Fast boat, public ferry, private charter, or hotel transfer - either from Bali or Lombok - there are plenty of options to get to the GILI's!
There are numerous fast boat services operating between Bali and the Gili’s (as well as many that stop at Bangsal Harbour on the northwest coast of mainland Lombok). Alternatively, you can fly to Lombok and travel across to the Gili’s by boat. Flights from Denpasar to Lombok can be found for as little as USD27 on way. Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Lombok (with low-cost carriers like AirAsia) are sometimes even cheaper than from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar and if you want to skip Bali altogether this is by far the fastest and most economical option for getting to the Gili’s.
FAST BOATS TO LOMBOK:
With Lombok's airport based in the centre of the island, fast boat services are a popular option for flying from Bali, as they provide fast and easy transfers between Bali and the Gili’s. Most fast boats leave Bali from either Serangan Harbour in the south of Bali (in Sanur, around 30 minutes from Kuta) or from Padang Bai Harbour in East Bali (around 2 hours from Kuta).
In good weather, fast boats from Bali can make the crossing in around 80 minutes but in heavy seas, the trip can easily take two hours or more. 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!
Check sea conditions before travelling, and before buying your ticket search the internet for “Gili fast boat" to check other travellers' reviews to ensure you choose a reliable operator. Avoid companies that practice overloading in busy times. We’ve had good experiences with Golden Queen (from Nusa Penida to the Gili’s) and Gili Getaway provides a reliable service with a comfortable fast boat from Serangan Harbour to the Gili’s.
We recommend checking the 12go website or Bookaway to check all ferry schedules while in Indonesia. Alternatively, Skyscanner has a wealth of incredible deals in case you want to travel around and see more of Indonesia or consider flying into Lombok.
FLYING TO LOMBOK:
Fly to Lombok and either stay on the mainland before making a trip out to the Gili’s or travel to Senggigi (around 1 hour) to arrange transport to the Gili’s from there. Alternatively, get a taxi or private driver from the airport to Bangsal Harbour (approx. 1 hour 45 minutes). Check for flights on SkyScanner or Kiwi.com
ONWARDS FROM LOMBOK:
HOTEL TRANSFERS: Many hotels on the Gili’s provide speedboat transfers for guests, as well as pick up services from the airport - enquire when you make your booking.
FROM TELUK NARA AND TELUK KODEK: Teluk Nara is a large bay on the northwest coast of Lombok, about 25 minutes’ drive north of Senggigi, and Teluk Kodek is a smaller bay directly alongside. Most of the dive companies. hotels and many businesses on the Gili’s have boats moored here and transfer guests to the islands every day. It is easy enough to arrange private boat trips here (negotiate hard though!) out to the islands with local boat owners, avoiding the hassles of Bangsal.
FROM BANGSAL HARBOUR: Catch a taxi to BangsaI Harbour, the main harbour to the Gilis on the northwest coast, about 30 minutes from Senggigi (and a few minutes north of Teluk Nara). Tickets are available from the signposted ticket office on the beachfront and boats are operated by Koperasi Angkutan Laut (Sea Transport Cooperative), which monopolises transport to the islands and sets the prices. Ignore touts who want to sell you tickets and buy directly from the office.
Public boats are the cheapest option at Rp 15,000 one way and depart regularly to each of the three islands. Get there early as departures are easier in the mornings.
Public speed boats also operate from Bangsal Harbour to Gili Trawangan. Gili Meno and Gili Air daily from 9 am - 4.20 pm; but it's best to get there in the morning. Boats leave roughly every hour and provide fast and easy transfers between the islands (eg. Gili Air to Gili-T). Price is around Rp 85,000 per person.
Unfortunately, this area can be plagued by persistent touts and scammer - you're best off to ignore them and head directly to the ticket office on the beachfront. Public ferry and charter boat prices are clearly displayed on the wall of the ticket office. Note that public boats only leave when there are enough passengers to warrant the trip, so you may have to wait for a while. Best times are between 8 am and 2 pm. If you don't want to wait, or if the public boat looks dangerously overloaded, you may want to charter a boat, especially if you have a few people in your group.
Private speedboat charters are available to all three islands, from around Rp 350,000 to Rp 500,000 depending on your bargaining skills and which island you are going to.
If you can manage yourself rather not let anyone else carry your bags or, if you have no option and someone offers, make sure to negotiate a price for the service first. 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 from shops on all three islands. Bangsal is a pretty area and it's a shame that some of the touts ruin it for everyone.
FROM SENGGIGI: From the beachfront area in Senggigi (in front of the Art markets), you can charter a private boat to outrigger to the islands. The trip will take around one and a half hours and especially in the morning is very scenic, but you may get wet on the way back. It is important to negotiate with the boatman first and make clear what is included in price.
An alternative is to inquire at the dive centres on the main street in Senggigi who might offer reasonable rates for transfers, usually including pick up from your hotel. Arranging snorkelling and dive trips which would include island transfers is a great way to save time, money and hassles. Just keep in mind that a lot of the day-trio boats may not be able to guarantee that your luggage will stay dry!