How to get to gili island (Gili trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air)
How to get to gili island (Gili trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air)
There are no airports in the Gilis. The nearest airport is on mainland Lombok. Flying to Bali and taking a boat to the Gilis is a viable and competitively priced option.
Bandara Internasional Lombok (IATA: LOP) is in south central Lombok and a taxi to Bangsal or Teluk Nare will take around 1 hr 40 min-2hr. Cost by taxi meter will be around Rp 250,000-270-000 depending upon the route used and occasional congestion that may sometimes arising from a wedding or funeral procession on the main road. It is an easy, and quite pleasantly scenic trip by road, indeed a lot of the route is the same as that travelled on many sightseeing day-trips. Any taxi carrying passengers from the airport is subject to an Airport Taxi Service charge. To any destination on the island outside the Central Lombok administrative zone the set fee is Rp 17,500, payable at the Airport Taxi Service counter in the centre of the terminal building. Aim to arrive at Teluk Nare or Bangsal no later than 16:00 for an uncomplicated crossing. Night time crossings are ill-advised.
Car and minibus transfer services are also available from the airport and Senggigi.
The Bali-Lombok route is operated by Garuda, Wings (code shared with Lion Air), and TransNusa.
From elsewhere in Indonesia, Lombok International Airport is served by flights from Jakarta, Surabaya and Makasar. These are provided by Citilink, Garuda, LionAir, Wings (LionAir regional). Eastward of Lombok Sumbawa is serviced by Trans Nusa, and Bima by Garuda. International flights are available from Singapore with Silk Air and Tiger Airways, from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with AirAsia, and Jetstar (Australia) from Perth.
Used mainly by locals, freight and diehard backpackers, there is an hourly public ferry service from Padang Bai (East Bali) to Lembar Harbour (Southwest Lombok), running 24 hours a day. The crossing takes 4 – 6 Hours (plus sometimes considerable waiting around for loading and unloading). This is extremely cheap but the on-board conditions are very basic to say the least, and the journey is very slow. Tickets are available from the harbors and cost just IDR40.000 (<US$4) adult fare. After arriving in Lombok it will then take another 2hr transfer to get to the Gili Islands via road and local boat from Bangsal harbor. For more info, see the main Lombok page.
As of mid 2014, the 550-seater speed ferry catamaran Bounty Cruises has resumed its daily service to the Gili Islands via Lembongan, originating from Benoa harbor in south Bali. This private ferry company started to operate in the late 90’s but hit economic adversity following the Bali bombings, forcing them to reduce the route to daily Lembongan trips only. The vessel is by far the largest passenger service direct to the Gilis and offers modern entertainment, bar and bathroom facilities on board. Tickets can be purchased in Benoa from their office or online via the website or Gilibookings.com.
By fast boat
If you want only to visit Gili Islands and Senggigi, a fastboat is more convenient than a plane, and you can then use taxis and boats for the Gili Islands. Fastboats depart in the morning from Bali, while planes depart maybe after noon.
Fastboat services offer a direct method of travel from neighbouring Bali across to Lombok’s Gili islands. There are now numerous direct boat services from Bali to the Gilis, all of which continue onto the main island of Lombok, and a few of which also pass by Nusa Lembongan en-route. One of them goes onward to Senggigi. Daily services depart from Benoa and Serangan Island in South Bali and from Padang Bai and Amed in East Bali are also from Sanur. Benoa harbour and Serangan are around 25-45 min by car, (dependent upon traffic) from the South Bali tourist areas. Padang Bai is a lot further by road and that road is often subject to delays and congestion. It is however convenient to Ubud.
You can contact the fast boat companies directly by phone or email, or book via one of the many local travel agents once you are in Bali. The only way to compare live seat availability and book e-tickets online is with www.giligilifastboat.com Gili Gili Operating routes from Serangan and Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan via Teluk Nare (Lombok) and Gili Air.
If you are travelling from southern Bali resorts such as Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua etc., the closest ports are Serangan or Benoa. However, you can depart from Padang Bai if you want a shorter crossing, which is around 1-2h from south Bali by road (so total travel time will be approximately the same). Also depart from Padang Bai if you are staying in or around Ubud. Amed is only suitable if you are staying in or around Amed, Tulamben, Candidasa or North Coast locations such as Lovina or Pemuteran.
Fast Boat operational safety
If you have legitimate concerns about either the vessel being used, the operator, overloading, or the prevailing weather conditions then do not board the boat, immediately seek a refund of your fare and make alternative arrangements. During periods of extreme weather the boats will not operate, this only happens once or twice a year. Flights across the Lombok Strait provide an alternative at similar cost and travel time.
The boats currently servicing all routes are smaller high speed craft with light duty hull construction and are driven by petrol fuelled outboard engines. Crew training, operational standards and safety equipment vary and some current services may be below the normal expectations of many foreign visitors.
No matter what port of departure you use, with the exception of those staying in Padang Bai or Amed, you will need to use a vehicle transfer for one portion of your journey. Take the weather into consideration when planning your voyage, shorter routes could reduce discomfort for those prone to motion sickness. Fast boat services from Amed and Padang Bai take around half as long to reach the Gilis as the routes from southern Bali. A shorter crossing amounts to extra road time on Bali, unless you are staying in Amed or Padang Bai already.
There are often significant differences in prices between operators on all the Gili Fastboat routes. There are also differences in the standard of the vessels, their operation, crew experience and certfication. It is advisable to look at more than just price. As competition has increased, so has misinformation about availability of seats and operating schedules. Check the veracity of information directly with your chosen operator if told by a tour desk a vessel is “full” or “bankrupt – not operating” or has “spontaneously combusted.” Ensure your ticket states the specific vessel requested. Stated trip times are often misleading and do not reflect the reality of the voyage nor previously achieved average crossing times.
Options to get from Lombok to the Gilis are:
A shuttle bus or taxi to Bangsal harbour (1 hr from Mataram), and a public boat from there (15/30/45 min to Air/Meno/Trawangan)
A chartered boat from Bangsal harbour
A chartered boat from the beach at Senggigi, or alternatives available 4 km north of the main township at Mangsit beach (1-2 hour travel time to the islands)
A chartered speedboat from Teluk Nare (15-30 min).
The easiest way to get to the Gilis from Lombok’s airport or Senggigi is to walk to the nearest travel agent, taxi desk or tout and book a package, or take a taxi northward to the departure points and deal with it yourself.
The cheapest way is to take a bemo/taxi to the Bangsal carpark on the Pemenang-Bangsal access road, then walk or cidomo to the beach at Bangsal, then take the Public boat (ferry) from there. However, this may involve some waiting around and the sometimes irksome requirement of dealing with sometimes unpleasant and irritating hawkers and touts, so some people just figure it’s not worth the hassle and they take the more expensive speedboats from Teluk Nare to the south of Bangsal, you drive through it on the coastal highway on the way to Pemenang.
See the Bangsal and individual Gili island articles for details of the official Koperasi Angkutan laut Karya Bahari services.
If you want to travel at your own pace, you can charter a boat directly from Senggigi or Mangsit beach to take you across. It may be beneficial to charter it for the day and then use it to look around the 3 islands for the rest of the day, or go snorkelling or turtle watching. Ask any travel agent or simply head to the beach behind the Santosa Hotel in central Senggigi or on the beach at Mangsit at the northern end of Senggigi district. At Mangsit most of the charter boats are located between Qunci Villas and the Holiday Resort Lombok (ex Holiday Inn Resort). On either beach you’re guaranteed to be solicited by boat operators and guides. The Senggigi article has more information on this. A charter of a regular outrigger (perahu) to any of the Gili Islands will likely cost Rp 500,000-600,000, but bargain hard. Some of these boats are pretty basic so make sure you check the safety equipment for yourself, especially if you cannot swim. The better guides at Mangsit beach will provide life vests of their own if the chartered boat does not have them. If there are three or less of you, it is much faster to arrange a speed boat pickup from Teluk Nare with one of the dive shops or your hotel on Gili Trawangan. A taxi to Teluk Nare from Senggigi will cost about Rp 60,000-65,000.
Note that the sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late afternoon, and well before dark. During periods of southerly winds and in July and August especially, the swell can be a bit hairy and you are very likely to get wet on the crossing. It is advisable to place laptops, cameras and handphones in waterproof bags for the crossing.