5 ways to get to the Gili islands from Bali
GETTING TO THE GILIS is simple. We’ve put together some time saving tips on how to get there by fast boat from Bali via Padang Bai and Amed. You get a range of options, from the super slow public ferries to stylish private charters for the deep pocketed voyager. Failing that, the Gilis are just a short helicopter ride away, and the views on show are well worth including on your trip.
If you’re already planning to spend a night or two on the mainland before crossing over to the paradise islands, then you can get away with booking a spot on the fast boat the day before. But don’t leave it till the morning of the trip, the fast boats fill up fast – especially in high season.
Most travellers get their Gili fast boat tickets from travel agents in Kuta before transferring through Padang Bai. However, we highly recommend getting the fast boat to the Gilis from Amed, a beautiful fishing town on the east coast of Bali with unbelievable snorkelling, breathtaking views of Mount Agung and the most charming village vibe.
If this is a short weekend trip to the Gilis however, you’ll want to get there as fast as possible. In that case, your best bet is to get the fast boat from Lombok. It’s also a good idea to get to the Gilis from Lombok instead of Bali in January and February, when the seas can get rather choppy.
Lastly, the most important tip for getting to the Gili islands on the fast boats is never get on an overloaded boat. It’s rare that it happens these days, but just in case you find yourself herded into a dangerously overcrowded fast boat, get off and ask for a refund.
Can’t wait to get to the paradise islands? Here are 5 ways to get to the Gili islands from Bali.
Fast boat from Padang Bai
A handful of fast boat operators depart from Padang Bai to the Gili islands in the mornings between 9am and 930am. Most people spend the night in Kuta and take the shuttle bus to Padang Bai in the morning. A much nicer way to do it is to spend the night in Padang Bai instead and bypass the madness and sleaze of Kuta.
Gili Cat is the most popular fast boat to the Gilis, and you can book tickets online through their website. Blue Water Express is another reputable fast boat. However, you can get better deals buying a ticket from the tour guides in Padang Bai (IDR450,000 versus IDR700,000 online).
Fast boat from Amed
Crossing the Lombok Straight from Amed takes only 45-minutes, instead of 1.5 hours from Padang Bai and costs IDR250,000 each way. Not many travellers know about Amed because travel agents in Kuta don’t actively promote this hauntingly beautiful port. If you have the time, take the three hour drive to Amed from Denpasar, you’ll be so glad you did.
Pacha Express departs twice a day (9am and 4pm), stopping at all three islands.
Private sailing charter
Not the most practical way to get to the Gilis, but certainly a stylish way to travel the high seas, and discover 23 more Gilis when you charter a day trip on a fabulous sailing boat. Bali Yacht Services has a sizeable fleet, with a number of boats to choose from. Skim the Lombok Strait on a fabulous speed boat, a cruisy catamaran or a luxurious yacht? We can’t decide either.
The public ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok departs every hour on the hour, but it’s painfully slow. The upside of the 5-hour crossing: it only costs a measly IDR40,000 per person. Perfect for the traveller who has more time than money.
Then it’s another slow public ferry from Lombok to the Gilis and waiting in between, so the total trip will take over 8 hours. If it’s worth the hassle to you, then go for it.
Private air charters to the Gili islands
Getting to the Gili islands in a private helicopter charter isn’t just a way to arrive in style, it also gives you a chance to see Bali and the Gilis from above and snap a few award winning aerial photos of the islands.
Air Bali operates private helicopter charters between Bali and Gili Trawangan, which they’ve aptly named the Gilicopter – which flies on Fridays and Sundays only. The 45-minute flight takes up to 5 people depending on weight. Find out more about Air Bali’s helicopter charters to Gili Trawangan.
Are you ready to pack your bags and head for the Gilis? Read these 8 ultimate Gili travel tips first.