getting to the gilis

The fastest and easiest way to reach the Gilis from Bali is by fast boat. Alternatively, fly to Lombok and transfer to the Gilis from the mainland. Explore both these options below.

Fast Boats: With Lombok’s airport based in Central Lombok, around 2 hours travel time from the Gilis, fast boat services are a popular option to flying, and provide fast and easy transfers between Bali and the Gilis.

Most fast boats leave Bali from either Serangan Harbour in the south of Bali or from Padang Bai Harbour in East Bali.

In good weather, fast boats can make the crossing in around 90 minutes but in heavy seas the trip can take two hours or more. Travel time also depends on the size of the boat, the boat’s engines, and from which harbour your boat departs.

If your fast boat departs from Benoa or Serangan harbours, you will spend less time travelling to the harbour from the main tourist areas in south Bali (around 30 minutes) but more time on the water (around 2 ½ hours).

If your fast boat departs from Padang Bai Harbour, in the east of Bali, travel time from Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Sanur, etc., to Padang Bai is around 2 hours. The crossing to the Gilis then takes around 1 ½ hours.

If you are staying in Ubud, Candidasa or the north of Bali, it makes sense to leave from Padang Bai.

Also note that some fast boats stop off at Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida (islands off Bali) enroute. Check boat schedules to check what route the boat travels.

Fast boats travel from Bali to Gili Trawangan and Gili Air before crossing to Bangsal Harbour on the northwest of Lombok for port clearance and then making the return trip to Bali (they cannot leave direct from the Gilis back to Bali without first clearing the port authority at Bangsal).

People travelling to Gili Meno also need to note that only Eka Jaya fast boats travel to Gili Meno. If you are travelling on another boat, you must disembark at Gili Trawangan and either catch the public ferry or charter a smaller boat to make the short crossing to Gili Meno.

The Lombok Strait – between Bali and Lombok – is one of the deepest bodies of water in the region and, during certain times of the year, waves can reach up to 4 metres high – at which time, fast boat services will often be cancelled.

Although this only happens a couple of times a year, always check sea conditions before travelling and choose a fast boat operator that will arrange for alternative transport or a refund if your trip is cancelled.

As there are so many boats to choose from, search the internet for “Gili fast boat” to check other travellers’ reviews and choose a reliable operator. Avoid companies that practice “over loading” in busy times or who have poor safety records.

Gili Getaway is a well-established and professional company with an exceptional safety record and good customer service. Their comfortable fast boats depart from Serangan Harbour daily to Gili T, Gili Air, and Bangsal Harbour, Lombok, as well as to Gili Gede in Southwest Lombok.

Fares include air-conditioned hotel transfers to main points in Bali. www.giligetaway.com

Blue Water Express is another long-running company with professional service and high safety standards. Boats depart from both Serangan Harbour and Padang Bai for convenience. www.bluewater-express.com

Eka Jaya is a popular large ferry with a capacity for 210 passengers. Although it can feel packed at times, its larger size makes for a more stable trip. Eka Jaya leaves from Padang Bai and travels to Senggigi (West Lombok), Bangsal Harbour, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili T before returning to Bali. They operate a shuttle service to/from Padang Bai and reasonably priced private car transfers can be booked through their website. www.ekajayafastboat.com

By Plane: Fly to Lombok International Airport and either stay on the mainland before making the trip out to the Gilis or arrange transport from the airport direct to the Gilis.

Drivers are waiting at the arrival hall at the airport and you can organise a taxi or private car and driver from the airport to Bangsal Harbour (approx 1 hour 45 minutes) and then catch a boat out to your preferred Gili.

HOTEL TRANSFERS: Many hotels on the islands provide speedboat transfers for guests, as well as pick up services from the airport in a private air-conditioned car. Although slightly more expensive than doing it yourself, it is a comfortable and easy way to travel to the Gilis – enquire at your hotel when you make your booking.

FROM BANGSAL HARBOUR: Catch a taxi or arrange a car and driver from the airport and travel to Bangsal Harbour, the main harbour to the Gilis on the northwest coast.

Public ferries and public fast boats both operate from Bangsal. Tickets to the Gilis are available from behind the sign-posted ticket office on the beachfront (the blue and white building on the right-hand side as you enter the harbour). The ticket office is open 8am to 5pm.

Public fast boats carry up to 60 passengers and operate from Bangsal Harbour to the Gilis daily from 9am – 4pm; but it’s best to get there in the morning. Boats leave roughly every hour and Price is Rp 85,000 per person.

The large and comfortable fast boats do a circular route from Bangsal to Gili Air (5 mins), Gili Meno (10 mins) and Gili Trawangan (15 mins), and then return on the same route.

Fast boats also provide easy transfers between the islands (eg. Gili Air to Gili T), as they are travelling the circular route between each island every hour. There is a schedule on display near the ticket office in Bangsal and at each harbour on the islands.

Public ferries are large outrigger boats that carry up to 40 passengers. These boats are slower but are the cheapest option for island transfers and operate from 8am to 5pm. Departures are easier in the mornings.

Public ferries travel to each Gili separately and wait until they are full until they depart but, generally, boats to Gili Air depart every hour, and to Gili T every 20 – 30 minutes. Boats to Gili Meno depart at 9am, 2pm and 5pm.

Approximate fares and travel times are Gili Air Rp 20,000 (20 mins), Meno Rp 25,000 (30 mins) and Trawangan Rp 25,000 (35 mins).

Private speedboat charters are also available from Bangsal and carry up to 6 passengers. This is a good option for groups and people who don’t want to wait for regular departure times.

Speedboat charter to Gili Air costs Rp 400,000, to Meno Rp 425,000 and to Gili T Rp 450,000, and includes insurance.

Fast Boats to Bali arrive and depart from the jetty at Bangsal. The check-in counters are behind the terminal building on the right of the harbour. There is Rp 10,000 departure tax payable on the jetty.

Individual ticket offices for the different fast boat operators are on the road just outside the gateway to the harbour – look for each company’s signs near the Mini Market.

Unfortunately Bangsal, like most ports in Indonesia, has its share of touts and scams The best way is to ignore them and head directly to the ticket office on the beachfront. Public ferry and charter boat prices are displayed clearly on the wall behind the ticket office.

Don’t let anyone take your bags or, if they offer to carry baggage, negotiate a price first. 10k per bag is reasonable. Ignore people who tell you that there are no return public transfers (there are); or that there is no water, mosquito repellent, etc., on the islands. All the essentials are readily available at shops on all three islands.

To catch a taxi from Bangsal, ask your hotel to call a Lombok Taxi before you leave the Gilis (or use the “My Blue Bird” taxi app). The taxi will be waiting in the parking area just a short walk outside the harbour entrance on the left-hand side.

Drivers at the harbour will also negotiate trips; prices are slightly higher than taxis but it’s a convenient option. See rates below.

Packages for climbing Mt Rinjani (via Senaru or Sembalun) are also available from Bangsal, as are day trips to popular tourist attractions. Always negotiate. These trips are also available from tour operators on the Gilis.

Useful contact: Pak Achmad is a trip organiser who is at Bangsal every day and can help organise everything from transport to speedboat charter. For example, if you want to arrange pick up from anywhere on Lombok and transfer out to the Gilis, he can organise pick up by car and boat transfer to suit your times (best to arrange in advance). Ph / WA: +62 878 6247 4228.

FROM TELUK NARA AND TELUK KODEK: Teluk Nara is a large peaceful bay on the northwest coast, about 25 minutes’ drive north of Senggigi and a few minutes before Bangsal. Teluk Kodek is a smaller bay directly alongside. Many of the dive companies, hotels and businesses on the Gilis have boats moored here and transfer guests to the islands every day.

Negotiate a private speedboat out to the islands with local boat owners here, thereby avoiding the hassles of Bangsal. Speedboat charters are available to all three islands and are slightly cheaper than at Bangsal, depending on your bargaining skills.

FROM SENGGIGI: You can charter local outrigger boats from the beachfront in Senggigi (in front of the Art Markets). The trip out to the islands takes around 1 ½ hours.

The journey up the coast in the morning is very scenic, but you may get wet on the way back. Make sure you negotiate a price with the boatman first!

A good alternative is to check out the dive centres on the main street in Senggigi who offer reasonable rates for transfers, usually including pick up from your hotel.

Arranging snorkelling and dive trips inclusive of island transfers is a good way to save time, money and hassles if you aren’t staying on the Gilis, or if you spend time on the mainland and then want to transfer to the Gilis.

Useful contact: Pak Achmad is a trip organiser who is at Bangsal every day and can help organise everything from transport to speedboat charter. For example, if you want to arrange pick up from anywhere on Lombok and transfer out to the Gilis, he can organise pick up by car and boat transfer to suit your times (best to arrange in advance).
Ph / WA: +62 878 6247 4228.

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