How to Get to the Gili Islands From Bali
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The three Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno) are popular places to go to from Bali. The most direct way to get to the islands is by boat, which takes around two hours or longer. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend doing them as a day trip. Plus, the Gilis deserve a few days of their own so you can fully relax and enjoy the pristine beaches and water.
Whether you’re going to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, or Gili Meno, there are multiple boats that leave from Bali every day. Most boats go to all three islands, with Gili T being the first stop and Gili Air being the last. You can find more information below, how to book your tickets, and two indirect ways to get to the Gilis.
- Travel time: 2 – 5 hours
- Cost: $14 – 25 USD
- How to book: 12Go.Asia or through your accommodation or a travel agent.
From Padang Bai port
Padang Bai is the main ferry port in Bali and it’s located on the southeast coast. There are lots of fast boats that sail every day from here.
You can leave either in the morning or the afternoon. Morning departures typically happen between 9 AM and 10:30 AM. Afternoon departures are at 1:30 PM. It’s best to leave in the morning when the water is calmest.
While the ferries are sometimes late, you should get to Padang Bai early. It can be confusing to find where you need to check in if you bought a ticket online. The ferries don’t wait for you, so give yourself more than enough time to get there and room for error.
From Sanur port
The Sanur port is south of Padang Bai. While it’s mainly for boats that travel between Bali, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Penida, there are a few companies that run boats to the Gilis from here.
Boats from Sanur only depart in the morning, between 8 AM and 9:30 AM.
From Serangan port
Serangan port is the southernmost port of all three and it’s the closest to the airport.
Serangan has the least number of boats that go to the Gili islands, so you’re limited to choosing between one boat that leaves at 8 AM or another leaving at 9 AM.
On all the Gili islands, there’s only one ferry port. Here is the Gili Trawangan harbor, Gili Meno harbor, and Gili Air harbor on Google Maps. You’ll be let off there, regardless of the boat company you take.
To get to your accommodation, you can walk, hire a bicycle, or take a horse-drawn cart. All of the islands are small enough that you can walk the entire island in an hour or more. So if you’re traveling light, walking is the cheapest option. Horse-drawn carts are the best option when you have a lot of luggage. However, not all horses are treated well. Some look skinny and uncared for, so choose your cart wisely.
How to get to the ferry ports from your accommodation
If you’re staying in one of the tourist centers in Bali, like Ubud, the most convenient option is to book your boat through your accommodation or a travel agent. This is because they’ll include a shuttle to take you to the port. If you book online, it’s still easy to get to the port. Order a car through Grab or Gojek, or hail a taxi off the road and haggle aggressively to get to a fair price.
Which fast boat company to take
Speedboats aren’t regulated in Indonesia, which means most companies throw caution to the wind. Your boat choice can either make or break your journey to the islands. I’m not kidding. It’s incredibly important to choose a company that operates safely and has a good reputation.
Eka Jaya is one of the best and recommended by a lot of companies and visitors. Their boats are large, so they get pushed around by waves less, compared to the smaller boats that other companies use. They also usually have air conditioning on the boat and run on time. The tradeoff of having a better experience is their tickets are more expensive.
Bluewater Express is another reputable company that provides a safer and smoother experience for a higher price. You can only book tickets on their website.
The one company you should absolutely not book with is Semaya One. I had a terrible boat ride with them (on the route between Nusa Penida and Lombok) where my electronics got ruined, and of course the company won’t take responsibility for damage to your luggage. I’ve also heard stories of their boats tilting so severely that passengers were terrified they were going to flip over.
Slow boat/public ferry
- Travel time: 6.5 – 8.5+ hours
- Cost: $4 USD + taxi fare
- How to book: Buy your ticket at the ferry port.
There are slow boats that depart from Padang Bai every day. Although it’s the cheapest way to get to the Gili islands from Bali, it’s also the slowest and you’ll need to make two transfers. It’s best if you want to experience how locals travel, have time to kill, or want to make a stop in Lombok before you go to the Gilis.
To take the slow boat from Padang Bai, follow these steps:
- Go to Padang Bai to buy your ticket. Boats leave about every 60 to 90 minutes, and the journey takes four to six hours. The slow boat will take you to Lembar in Lombok.
- From Lembar, you’ll need to get a taxi to Bangsal port, which is on the northwest coast of Lombok. The drive takes about 70 to 90 minutes.
- Finally, take the public boat to the Gili island of your choice. Buy your ticket at the harbor and ignore the vendors who approach you. The public ferry operates from 9 AM to 5 PM and leaves once there’s enough passengers.