The Gilis are three tiny islands located between Bali and Lombok in central-southern Indonesia. The scuba diving around the Gili Islands is fantastic, and the more than a dozen dive sites are all a very short boat trip away, meaning that diving guests go out for one dive at a time, and can enjoy lunch at a beachside restaurant or a nap in their hotel, instead of on a boat. There’s so much good to say about these three islands, in particular the largest and furthest out to sea from Lombok, Gili Trawangan.
What makes these islands so attractive to diving tourists is hard to say for sure, but most agree that being able to enjoy the best aspects of diving in Indonesia while choosing from a wide range of accommodation, food and activities to fit all budgets is significant. The islands are easily reached by plane to Lombok or Bali international airports, then a drive and boat trip. In fact, it could well be the hair-raising road journey from hotels and airports in Bali and Lombok to board the boats to The Gili Islands which makes these three little islands so difficult leave. Public transport is ‘interesting’ in Indonesia, especially by road. However, on the Gili Islands, there are no motorized vehicles, so everyone is able to totally relax. Getting around can be done on foot, by bicycle, or for those with heavy luggage, there are horse & cart vehicles, known locally as cimodo.
There are at least a couple of dozen dive centres on Gili Trawangan, but fewer on the neighbouring Gili Meno and Gili Air. The practice of price-fixing is common for diving in the Gili Islands, but this is not such a bad thing, as it enables customers to choose which dive centre they like on its own merits, not just which appears to be the best value. The dive centres load their boats with divers and gear directly from the beach, and the dive sites are a short journey away - rarely more than 20 minutes.
Underwater, there are some wonderful creatures to be seen at Gili dive sites, and some species can be found nowhere else on earth. There are more fish than one would expect to see, and most corals are in healthy condition. Turtles are everywhere! If you dive in the Gili Islands and don’t see at least one turtle, you can and should feel quite disappointed. Cephalopods, such as squid, cuttlefish and octopuses are common, too. Sharks and rays are seen every day, usually at depths below 15m. The channels between the islands reach depths of 30 metres in many spots, and deeper that in a few. Just a few hundred nautical miles south, the sea is several kilometres deep, ensuring that lots of nutrient-rich currents feed the marine life in this area. The currents can be medium to strong at times, and it’s advisable to only dive with a locally-experienced Divemaster guide. Fortunately, there are enough dive sites in several locations to ensure that easy diving can be enjoyed at any time of day, all year round.