The Gili Islands are a group of three small islands in Indonesia off the coast located between Bali and Lombok. Gili Islands are best known for their sandy beaches lined with palm trees, clear water and their coral reefs located just offshore. The islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – are an ideal place to explore the incredible underwater sea life. You’ll find picturesque places to swim and explore all the beauty and sea creatures below the surface.
During my time on the Gili Islands I spent a lot time it exploring the underwater world. I found everything from beautiful coral, to sea turtles and some breathtaking underwater statues. All these places are easy to access without a tour by simply just walking off the beach.
I’ll explain exactly where to find the best underwater places in the Gili Islands, the best times to go, and how to get there.
The Gili Islands are a perfect place for sea turtles to swim. With tropical waters and plenty of sea grass for the turtles to munch on, there are so many opportunities to spot turtles around each of the Gili Islands. To find the turtles on Gili Trawangan head to the east side of the island to turtle point. Turtle point is located in front of Villa Almarik. Head out to the beach just in front of it and you can often spot the turtles from the shore. Look for the shadows through the clear water of the incoming waves and you can easily spot the turtles, often only a few meters off shore. Just simply grab you goggles and GoPro and swim out to them. The best time of day is at high tide. During low tide the water is too shallow which can result in injuring yourself and the coral.
Gili Meno is most famous for it’s installation of the underwater statues named “Nest”. The Nest consists of 48 life sized human figures in a circular formation that was installed to promote coral growth. You will find these statues just off the beach at Gili Meno in front of Bask Resort (still under construction). If you are already on Gili Meno you can swim directly off the beach. If you are staying on Gili Trawangan and you don’t want to do a tour you can simply hire a kayak from one of the various water sports vendors and paddle over.
I took a kayak over which took me approximately 20 minutes to paddle across. You can spot the big white Bask sign from the beach on Gili T which will direct you exactly where the statues are located. The best time to go is early in the morning just after sunrise. There are many tour groups that arrive around 8:30 – 9:00 am so if you’d like to avoid the crowds, early morning is the best time to go. I arrived here at 7:30 am and there were already a number of people who were here swimming without a tour. I would suggest arriving at 7:00 or earlier for clear water free of other people.
The underwater scooters are not as well know and therefore you’ll find almost no one there anytime of the day. I arrived here during high tide and it was a bit of a challenge diving down to them for someone who isn’t experienced in free diving. For that reason I suggest checking them out at low tide to access a bit easier. To find the underwater bikes, head to Restaurant Ombak and look for a floating platform with solar panels on top. The bikes are located directly below.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
When you arrive in the Gili Islands there will be lots of tour operators offering tours to all these places. If you are not a strong swimmer I highly suggest taking a tour. These places are fairly easy to access but the currents can be strong making it more difficult than it may seem. Also, I suggest that you bring your own snorkel equipment if you have some. If you don’t have your own snorkel equipment don’t worry. There are lots of places where you can hire equipment, however I have found that the quality is not the best.
Have the best time exploring the underwater life around the Gili Island. It truly is a beautiful picturesque place both above and below the water. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below.
SHOP MY UNDERWATER TRAVEL ACCESSORIES