Known as the must-see destination for snorkeling and scuba diving in Indonesia, the Gili islands have gained immense popularity among divers of all types; both experienced as well as beginners. With the water temperatures averaging around 28 degrees throughout the year, the islands are perfect for water sports and activities almost any time of the year. The island is also home to diverse marine life as well as a wide variety of topography including canyons, ridges, walls, and slopes. The most exotic marine life found in the Gili Islands include an abundance of turtles, white tip sharks, scorpion fish, octopuses, cuttlefish, lionfish, sea snakes and moray eels, not to mention a huge variety of both hard and soft coral.
The Haan’s Reef located in Gili Air has developed into a renowned diving spot known for excellent “muck diving”. Here divers can explore all kinds of rare species such as flying gurnard, pink leaf scorpion fish, mantis shrimps, frogfish, robust ghost pipefish, ringed pipefish, blue ringer octopuses, pygmy seahorses and different varieties of frogfish and turtles.
Diving in the Gili Islands
The Gili islands and the neighboring town of Lombok are regarded as some of the best diving spots in the world because of their diverse and rich sea bed topography. Diving in the Gili islands can bring you face to face with diverse species of ocean-life including angel fish, moray eels, cuttlefish, ghost pipefish, and turtles. Visitors interested in extreme sports like diving in the Gili islands can even visit Shark Point to take in the view of a huge variety of sharks; a truly unique site. Just a short distance away from there is the Volker’s Golf course; so named because the green sea floor looks just like a golf course.
Exciting Marine Life in the Gili Islands
Almost every species of reef fish that are found around the world can be found in the Gili Islands as well. Really lucky divers can find some truly exotic marine creatures such as the black tip reef shark and the white tip reef shark. The Giant Manta Ray and Oceanic sunfish are other rare varieties of marine life that can be found here. If you are fond of turtles, then diving Gili will definitely not disappoint; the Gili Islands are fondly known as the turtle capital of the world. On rare occasions turtles can even be seen coming up to the surface of the water.
The corals in the region that are easiest to see are mostly dead or in extremely bad shape. To really be able to see the exquisite coral that the islands have to offer, you’ve got to go for a dive; and the view is more than worth it.
Best Diving Sites in the Gili Islands
There are three islands that make up the Gili Islands:
This island appears at the top of the list for offering the best diving Gili islands opportunities. It has held on to its reputation as a ‘party island’ due to the large number of restaurants, hotels and dive operations that are ever increasing.
This is regarded as the quietest option for tourists wishing to go diving in the Gili islands. Though it doesn’t have many accommodation options, its white sand beaches and coral life are breathtaking and make the trip worthwhile.
This island is where you can find the largest local population out of all islands in the region. It offers facilities for enjoying the marine life through dives, but also allows visitors to experience the local culture of the region.
There are currently 18 dive sites surrounding the 3 islands; a complete list of all the sites islands is included below:
- Air Slope
- Air Wall
- Basket Coral
- Bounty Wreck
- Coral Fan Garden
- Deep Sponge Coral
- Frogfish Point
- Manta Point
- Meno Slope
- Meno Wall
- Mikro Reef
- Shark Point
- Sponge Coral
- Takat Malang
- Turtle Point
Best Time to go Scuba Diving in the Gili Islands
Though visitors can enjoy extreme sports such as scuba diving throughout most of the year, it’s generally a good idea to avoid booking your trip from December through January. The rain in the area during these months reduces the visibility to a great extent, creating increased danger risks; especially for novice divers. The most ideal months for diving in the Gili islands are from May through to September.
Scuba Diving Conditions
The temperature of water in the region ranges between 26°C and 30°C, making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling as well as other extreme sports. Most of the dives that you will go on in the Gili Islands will however be drift dives due to the strong current in the area. The dive operators on the islands are well aware of the currents and will not expect you to swim back to the boat – rather the dive boat will come and find you. A quick crash course in drift diving will be given to beginners to these conditions.
The Gili Islands offer a number of inexpensive options for taking scuba diving courses. In fact, the islands have gained a worldwide reputation as a great dive teaching center. With such a vast array of plant life and sea creatures to observe even during a class, the Gilis are perfect for all kinds of water related extreme sports. They offer great visibility in the 15 to 20 meter range, thus allowing divers to witness the exotic marine life existing there. Due to the major popularity of diving in the Gili islands, diving courses and instructors keep increasing throughout the area.
Gili Trawangan offers the largest number of diving operators, though SSI and PADI licensed operators can be found on all the three islands. Fantastic facilities are provided and they also hire western dive instructors to improve their services that they provide to visitors from around the world. Great options are available for every type of diver; from those who are learning to dive for the very first time as well as those who are looking for a challenge or advancing their existing qualifications. Most of the operators offering diving Gili islands courses offer SSI as well as PADI options.
Some of the most common diving courses that visitors opt for include; fun dives, discover scuba, scuba review, advanced open water, open water + nitrox, rescue diver, drift diving and dive master courses.