Ahhhh Gili Air…a magical little island nestled between Lombok and Bali. Picture white sand beaches, sandy roads, epic sunsets, tranquility, delicious fresh seafood, and astonishing snorkeling and diving. It’s tough to describe just how marvelous it really is, but I’ll do my best!
There are three Gili islands, and we chose Gili Air because it is known to be much more chill than its neighboring party island, Gili Trawangan (which you should definitely go to if you want to party!).
Hotel In Denpasar:
Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport:
If you’re taking a late flight in, this hotel has everything you could need, including a great buffet breakfast and it’s just 5 minutes from the airport. $35USD/night
Where To Store Your Boards/Suitcases:
If you’re in need of storing your surfboards or suitcases for a day, week, month, etc. on mainland, then Bali Board Storage in Kuta (near Discovery Mall) is the BEST place around. We stored 2 suitcases and 2 duffel bags for the day for around $10USD. The owner is super friendly and they are really safe and reliable.
How To Get There…
Getting to Gili Air is a bit of a task, but totally worth the trek.
Option 1: Fly to Denpassar, Bali, then take a small, 50min flight to Lombok. Take a boat from Lombok to Gili Air.
Option 2: Fastboat (our choice): From Denpasar, hire a driver for $280,000IDR ($21.00USD) to drive the 1.5 hour journey to Padangbai Ferry Terminal. The fast boat tickets are $29USD one way to Gili Air.
Option 3: Public Ferry: It’s a long journey, about 4-5 hours for about $40,000 ($3USD). After you arrive in Lombok, you’ll then need to take another boat from Lombok to the Gili’s (10 minutes).
If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable, safe driver on mainland Bali, Mr. Agus Yudi is your man! He’s by far the BEST driver we’ve had in the many months we’ve spent exploring Bali and his english is GREAT! Contact information on photo below:
How To Get Around…
There are very few motorized vehicles on the Gili Islands (only a few scooters).
Horse Carriage: $100,000IDR ($7USD) from ferry terminal to your accommodation (overpriced, in my opinion and super sad for the horses). Riding in these carriages is quite terrifying…imagine the movie Gladiator, without Russel Crow. If you are able to walk, do it.
Walking: Luckily, the entire island of Gili Air is only 5km around
Where To Stay…
If budget permits and you want an AMAZING open water dive experience, then Manta Dive is the BEST place to stay and get your training. Of course, you can stay elsewhere and just take the course at Manta. The rooms are modern, spacious, air conditioned, come with a safety box, have a partial open bathroom and the service is excellent. They offer packages that include the dive cert and accommodation for 4 nights, around $500USDpp.
Sunrise Beach Resort:
A 2 minute walk from Manta Dive, it’s much more cost affective at $45USD/night. The included breakfast buffet is great for the price. NOTE: They offer rooms/bungalows with/without aircon.
PADI or SSI?
There are two different types of courses available in order to become a certified, open water diver, PADI and SSI. We chose SSI, because the instructors have more freedom to teach you the skills you need help on. In PADI, the curriculum is much more strict and, if you haven’t mastered step A, you cannot move onto step B or C.
For example: I had no issues with many parts of the course, except clearing my facemask underwater. If we took PADI, I wouldn’t have been able to move on to the second open water dive, without first mastering that skill. With SSI, I was able to do the second open water dive and my instructor had the freedom to practice that specific skill with me so I could be comfortable and master it. Thus, SSI was the best fit for us because of the freedom in the curriculum.
The SSI Open Water Dive Course:
Company: Manta Dive
Cost: $400USD for the course only (packages are available for accommodation and the course together)
Duration: 3 full days, 8:30am-4:00pm
Dives: 2 pool dives, 4 open water dives
Videos: 3-4 safety videos
Test: One written test (very easy)
After Certification: 18m depth allowance
Manta Dive has the BEST reputation overall and the deepest pool on the island, at 3 meters deep (10feet), which helps a LOT with training. Our instructor, Kimmo, was ABSOLUTELY incredible! He was extremely knowledgeable, patient, kind and you could tell he really enjoyed his job. We had such an amazing experience with this course because of him.
Notes About Diving:
If you’re hesitant about diving, put your fears aside and take the open water dive course. I can honestly say that I was super scared at many times in the deep ocean, but the more I gained experience, the more comfortable I felt. There’s a whole beautiful world under the sea! We saw beautiful sea turtles, clownfish (Nemo!) and many other colorful fish and wildlife! My only regret is not doing the certification sooner and diving in all the amazingly beautiful place Southeast Asia has to offer!
Holiday Fit Gili Air
Cost: $50,000IDR/day ($3.75USD) or $150,000IDR ($12USD) 1 week
Hours: 7:00am-10:00pm Daily
How To Get There: Located on the east side of the island, follow the main road until you get to Gita Gili and there will be a small sign signaling you to go down a back road. Follow this road about 5 minutes and you’ll see Holiday Fit on your left.
Where To Eat/Watch Sunset…
About a 15 minute walk from Manta, this is the BEST spot to watch the sunset. Be sure to go early (1++ hour before sunset) to get a good table.
Located beach side infant of Sunrise Resort, this place was our favorite on the island for food/drinks. Get the tuna steak, it’s delicious!
Chill Out Restaurant:
Who doesn’t love a happy hour of buy one get one free? They also have a huge menu, which includes cuisines from all over the world.