How to Get to Gili Islands and Between Islands

Gili Islands Transfer Services

Getting to – and around – the Gilis is relatively hassle-free. Lombok has a new international airport with major operators flying regularly into the mainland, from where you can hop on a 2.5-hour overland transfer to the northern Bangsal Harbour, before boating to one of the three islands. You can also opt to boat directly from either of the two main Bali ports, namely Serangan and Padangbai, which mostly will take you to the Gilis within two hours.

Getting around these small islands is even easier. You can circumnavigate the islands on foot, or by bicycle, which are widely available for rent. Cidomo (traditional horse-driven carts) are easy to find and cost little. To experience all three islands, there are scheduled ‘island-hop’ services that operate regularly – all you need to do is check out their timetables and plan ahead. Here are some guidelines on how to get to the Gili Islands, and get around effortlessly.

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Flights to Lombok

Flights from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) to the new Lombok International Airport or ‘Bandara Internasional Lombok’ (LOP) normally take half an hour. Current flights are serviced by two major international airline companies, namely Garuda Indonesia and PT Lion Mentari Airlines, otherwise known as Lion Air.

Lion Air airfares, starting at around IDR 446,000 (USD 32), are known to be around half the price of Garuda Indonesia, however the latter is much preferred for its service quality and punctuality, with return tickets starting from IDR 900,000 (USD 67) per person. There are no airports or landing strips on the Gilis – all are serviced by charter and island shuttle boats. After landing at the airport in Central Lombok, you'll need an overland transfer northwest towards Bangsal Harbour.

Taxis and charter transfers are available from Lombok International Airport, with reputable Blue Bird Taxisthat can take you up to Bangsal on a 2.5-hour ride for around IDR 350,000 (USD 26). Roads on the Lombok mainland are fairly quiet, making your overland transfers swift and comfortable. From Bangsal, a half-hour boat ride will then get you to the Gilis.

Fast boat operators and Schedules from Bali

Another popular way to get to the Gilis quickly and easily is by motorboat, operated by a number of companies in Bali. For the majority of visitors staying in southern Bali, departures from the marina at Serangan Island is the best option, while those staying in East Bali, within the resort area of Candidasa in particular, can go straight to the Padangbai harbour, the main ferry seaport to Lombok and eastern Indonesia.

Ferries from Padangbai reach Bangsal in five hours, and you must take another boat trip to reach the Gilis. Meanwhile, the convenient fast motorboat services that depart from Serangan Island, such as Gili Getaway, take only 2.5 hours to reach the first stop at Gili Trawangan. Return tickets to Gili Getaway start from USD 130 (IDR 1,650,000) and includes refreshments, quality DVD movies with audio fed through headphones, and punctual schedules. Most of the services provide the further added convenience of hotel pick-up services at 07:00 before a departure from Serangan for the Gilis at 08:00 or 09:00.

Current fast motorboat services available from Bali include:

  • Gili Getaway
  • Blue Water Express
  • Gili Cat
  • Gili Gili
  • Ocean Star Express
  • Super Scoot 
  • Kuda Hitam Express
  • Marina Srikandi
  • Wahana Gili Ocean

Getting Between the Gili Islands

A local, official island hop boat service operates between the three islands, with schedules that you must check at the harbours beforehand should you be keen on experiencingall of the three Gilis over the course of your trip. This is highly important,especially with your return fast boat pickup schedule taken into consideration.

Tickets are available for purchase right at the island hop services booths, which are easy tospotat each of the island’s harbours. One-way fares are at IDR 35,000 per person. Schedules vary, but mostly depart at 08:30, with up to 20 minutes of waiting time. Afternoon services depart around 15:00 to 16:00. For a boat trip back to Lombok’s Bangsal harbour, the price is IDR 15,000 per passenger. Tickets are non-refundable and includes life insurance by Jasa Raharja, the Indonesian state-owned insurance company.

For an island-hopping experience that is flexible and ready at your own convenience, you can charter motorized boats operated by locals, who are easily found around the boat harbours. Or you can easily arrange for one at your hotel front desk. Obviously at a cost, fares start from a negotiable IDR 350,000 per trip (a viable option if you’re sharing your Gili trip with a large group).

The locally operated boats are the long wooden type with a roof covering the length of its hull. No life jackets are provided for passengers, and best advice is to only go out to sea when waves are calm and weather conditions are permissible. Incidents have occurred in the past.

Getting Around the Gilis

By Foot

All of the Gilis feature a combination of sandy and paved paths that line the coastal fringes of the islands. Gili Trawangan has the longest and well laid-out paths, ending at the quietest beaches on its northwest. You can easily go for a leisurely walk around the whole circumference of Gili Trawangan, the largest of the three, within just an hour. Walking is the cheapest and most enjoyable way to enjoy the Gillis.

By Bicycle

For those looking for a faster means of getting around, bicycle rentals are super easy to find, as the locals have found them good business. A Wim Cycle ‘Fatman’ beach cycle model with oversized tyres will let you cruise over sandy paths, easier than the cycles with conventional sized tyres. Those with front baskets are convenient to hold your drink bottles or a small bag. Daily rentals start from IDR 50,000, usually requiring you to return the bike at the rental around the same time within 24 hours. Electric bikes are also a new trend, starting from IDR 75,000 to 100,000 per rent.

‘Cidomo’ horse-driven carts

Currently the effort-free way of travelling on the Gilis is by Cidomo, a Lombok traditional icon, featuring a roofed wooden cart with car wheels, pulled by a single horse. Concerns from animal-loving visitors in the past who became distressed about the harsh treatment of the horses have led to their much improved conditions.

Fixed prices have been agreed upon by the local authorities to avoid over charging visitors, and a large announcement board lists the hotel or destination with fares for a maximum of two passengers ranging from IDR 65,000-80,000. Round island rides are available between IDR 150,000-170,000.

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