The Gili Islands are a set of three tiny islands just off the coast of Lombok that makes it onto most travelers’ Bali itinerary for several good reasons. First, it’s super easy to get from Bali to the Gili Islands, and secondly, the islands are among the most beautiful places to visit in Indonesia!
If you’re planning your first trip to the stunning Gilis, you must be wondering how to get there. Thankfully, getting to the Gili Islands is a total breeze! And is this guide I’m going to show you exactly how to get from Bali to the Gili Islands so that you can spend less time worrying about logistics and more time drooling over all the amazing things to do there!
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Before You Go to the Gilis
Before heading out to the Gili Islands, here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect trip.
- Read my detailed guide on the best things to do in Gili Trawangan. It’s packed with everything from tips and top activities to hotel and restaurant suggestions, and more! If you’re not sure what to bring along on your trip, this Bali Packing Guide will come in handy.
- There are no taxis or cars on any of the Gili Islands, so try to travel light. Most boat operators only allow 20-25 kg luggage per person, so check your operator’s luggage allowances in advance. Once you arrive on the islands, you’ll need to walk or take a horse cart to your hotel.
- The Gili Islands are super popular destinations. Find the best hotel deals here on Agoda, and make sure to book your stay at least a few weeks in advance.
- Don’t want to plan a thing? Consider this 3-day or this 2-day tour to Gili Trawangan from Bali. Both packages include beachfront resorts and fun activities, like snorkeling.
Gili Islands Quick Overview
As already mentioned, the Gili Islands consist of three islands. All three are worth adding to your dream destinations bucket list, with soft white sand beaches and fun things to do. However, it’s important to know that each island is unique in its own right. So the first thing you’ll need to figure out is which Gili is right for you.
- Gili Trawangan is the biggest of the 3 Gilis and arguably the most famous. Featuring gorgeous beaches, lots of beach bars, restaurants, and accommodation options, it’s perfect for all kinds of travelers – from couples to solo travelers to families. Gili T does have a bit of a reputation as a party island, but it’s not nearly as crazy as Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.
- Gili Air is where you can have your bread buttered on both sides. The island offers a good mix of accommodation, beaches, and things to do. Gili Air has a good nightlife scene, but it’s much more laidback than Gili Trawangan and not as mellow as Gili Meno.
- Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands. There aren’t many accommodation or restaurant options here. But if you’re looking for a quiet tropical escape or planning a romantic getaway, this is the Gili island for you!
Okay, so now that you better understand what each island has to offer, let’s figure out how to get to the Gili Islands!
Getting from Bali to Gili Islands
The distance from Bali to the Gili islands is only about 95km. The main transport option to get to the Gilis Islands from Bali is by fast boat.
Although it is possible to take a public ferry to the Gilis, you’ll be wasting much travel time. This is because you’ll need to first travel to Lombok by boat and from there catch another boat to your destination in the Gilis. The entire journey can take up to 8 hours, so it’s really not recommended.
Another option is to fly to Lombok and then take a boat to the islands. The journey will probably take the same time (if not longer than taking the speedboat), but I’ve included the details below nonetheless. That way, you can decide which way to go to the Gili Islands is best for you.
Taking a Fast Boat from Bali to Gili Islands
The most straightforward way to get from Bali to the Gilis is by fast boat.
While it is possible to get a fast boat to Gili Air from Bali, most travelers opt to travel from Bali to Gili Trawangan and then catch a boat to the smaller islands of Gili Meno or Gili Air from there.
Speed boats can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours, and the ride is, in most parts, comfortable. If rough seas and seasickness aren’t for you, it’s best to plan your trip during the drier months (see below).
To get to the Gilis from Bali, you’ll first need to decide which port to sail from; Padang Bai, Serangan, or Amed. Padang Bai offers the shortest route to the Gili Islands. And as a result, it’s the most popular gateway to the Gili Islands. However, if you’re not staying around the Ubud area, it might be good to consider one of the other ports.
Bali Sailing Ports: Quick Overview
Padang Bai is the main gateway to Gili Trawangan from Ubud and surrounding areas. The harbor is a 1-1.5 hrs drive from Ubud, and a fast boat takes 1.5-2 hrs depending on the sea conditions. The ferry leaves at 9:30 am, and you’ll need to be at the port 30 minutes in advance.
Serangan is another popular port and gateway to the Gilis, especially if you are staying in the south of Bali, close to Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran or Sanur. The average sailing time is about 3 hrs, and boats leave at 8 am, and 9 am.
If you’re in the north of Bali, in places like Lovina, Kuba, or Tianyar, your best bet is to catch a ferry from Amed to the Gilis. Boats sail at 9:30 am and take about 1hr to Gili Trawangan and 1.5 hrs to Gili Air. Freebird Express is the only company that sails to the Gilis from Amed, and you’ll need to book a ticket on their website.
Which Boat Operators to Use
There are tons of boat operators to choose from, with Blue Water Express, Eka Jaya, and Gili Gili Fast Boat being among the most reputable. Prices are generally fixed and include insurance for the ride.
Before you book a fast boat to the Gili Islands, make sure to check if the ticket includes a pickup service from your hotel in Bali. While getting to any of the ports mentioned above independently is an option, booking a ticket with a road transfer will save you the headache of figuring out all the transport hassles.
Still need more transport options? Compare prices or find more options here.
Flying to the Gili Islands
Technically you can’t fly to the Gili Islands. None of the islands have an airport or even a landing strip. And unless you’re already at Ngurah Rai International Airport or planning to spend some time in Lombok, I wouldn’t recommend flying to the Gili Islands because it will probably take the same time (if not longer) as the fast boat.
However, if you really must fly, your only option is to fly into Lombok International Airport. And, from there, make your way to a port where you can catch a ferry to the Gili Islands.
There are several flights from Bali (DPS) to Lombok (LOP) daily. Flights are cheap and only take about 40 minutes. But don’t forget that you’ll still need to get to one of the ports upon arrival, which will add more travel time to your itinerary.
The cheapest way to get to the Gilis from Lombok is by public ferry from Bangsal Harbour. Bangsal is roughly 60km northeast of Lombok International Airport, and it takes around 1.5hrs to get to the port. [Book a transfer from the airport to the port]. Once you’re at the harbor, you’ll need to catch a boat to the Gili Islands.
Ferries to the Gilis sail between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm at irregular intervals, with more frequent departures in the mornings. Boats only sail once they fill up, so you might need to wait around. The public ferry takes about 30 minutes to get to Gili Trawangan.
If that’s not for you, you’re better off taking one of the fast boats. While the speed boat will undoubtedly cost more than the public ferry, it will definitely be faster.
The best place to take a speed boat is from Teluk Nare Harbour. The harbor is located about 1.5hrs drive from the airport, and there’s a good selection of boat operators here. Moreover, the Gilis are only a 5-15 minute boat ride from Teluk Nare Harbor. While you can catch a taxi from the airport to the harbor and then hop on a boat, you’re better off booking a land and sea transfer in one go. That way, you can forget about all the transport hassles and just enjoy the ride!
Best Time to Visit
The Gili Islands are a popular destination year-round, but it’s always good to time your visit as the boats won’t sail in extremely bad weather. The best time to visit the Gili Islands is during the dry season (April to October), with the month of August seeing the least rain.
Not only will you experience the best weather during these months, but the chance of boat crossing cancellations will decrease. It’s best to try to get one of the earlier boats too. Sea conditions are usually calmer in the mornings than later in the day when the seas get rough. If you suffer from seasickness, don’t forget to take medication beforehand, as you’re going to be on the water for quite some time.
Getting to Gili Islands in Conclusion
As you can see, getting to the Gili Islands is pretty straightforward. I hope this guide has helped you find the easiest route to travel from Bali to the Gilis! Have an amazing trip!
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