If you’re over the crowds in Bali and want your own little slice of paradise, look no further than the Gili Islands! I fell head over heels in love for this Lombok destination! From riding our own little bikes around the island, to snorkeling with sea turtles, to watching Avatar on the beach sipping out of a fresh coconut, these islands off Bali really can’t be beat!
After deciding the day before that we wanted to travel from Bali to the Gili islands, we had to do a little planning. Now that we made it safely there and back, I’ve learned that getting to the Gili islands from Bali is actually quite simple! Below I’ve put together 5 easy ways to take a boat from Bali to Gili (or a helicopter if you fancy!) My favorite option is the fast boat to Gili T, but choose whatever works best for you.
Fast Boat to Gili Trawangan From Amed
This is the number one way I recommend getting to the Gili’s! Amed is is this beautiful fishing town on the east coast of Bali near the breathtaking Mount Agung. I am terrible at riding on motorbikes, so three of us split a cab from Padang Bai to Amed for 260K, or about 87K each. We used the app GO JEK to get the best rates. Another app is Grab but we found GO JEK has cheaper rates.
Our other group of friends wanted to ride through the beautiful countryside on motorbikes which is what I would recommend. It is about a 2.5-3 hour ride from the Kuta area. Our friends were able to leave their motorbikes in Amed for the weekend at the port and they did not get stolen.
We arrived in Amed the night before our trip and stayed at an Air BnB but wished we had come a couple days earlier because the views and the people and the overall vibe of Amed was out of this world. If you are planning your Bali trip and haven’t decided on where to go, please put Amed on your list!
To cross the Lombok straight from Amed only takes 45 minutes and cost us 700K each for both ways (we were able to work out a deal – so try and barter!) We had a slight mess up where we only bought 5 tickets online instead of 7, so luckily we were able to grab our tickets the day of at the port but usually the tickets are sold out so we got really lucky! BUY YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME! You will be fine if you get your ticket the night before.
We used Freebird express, which departs twice a day at 9am and 4pm and stops at all three islands
For questions, email Info@freebirdexpress.com
Fast boat from Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan
This is another way to get from Bali to Gili Trawangan (I’m just assuming you’re going there because I’m biased and its the fun party island!) There are a handful of fast boats that depart from Padang Bai to Gili in the AM between 9 and 9:30. If you’re trying to get from Kuta to the Gili Islands, many people spend the night in Kuta and take a shuttle bus to Padang Bai in the morning. Alternatively you could spend the night in Padang Bai instead and skip Kuta – I stayed here and didn’t enjoy it. If you’re heading from Denpassar to the Gili Islands this option would work for you too!
An option for booking is Blue Water Express. Blue water express has two departures daily from Serangan, Bali at 8:00 AM and Padang Bai at 12:15 PM.
If you like being safe you can book online, but you can usually barter better deals with the tour guides in Padang Bai (500 IDR VS 700 IDR).
The public ferry departs every hour in Padang Bai. This is your best bet if you are on a budget – at IDR 40,000 per person, but its SUPER SLOW – around five hours. The ferry will take you to Lombok, and once you are there you will need to hop on another ferry to the Gili’s with some more waiting in between. If you are heading to Lombok for a couple of days then heading to the Gili’s, or if you have all the time in the world, maybe this option would be fine for you.
Private Sailing Charter
If money is no problem for you and you want to arrive in style, then hire yourself a private charter for an epic arrival! Check out Bali Yacht Services and choose from a speedboat, yacht, or luxury catamaran
Private Helicopter Charter to Gili Trawangan
If you’re looking to get some fun aerial footage of Bali and the Gili’s, this option may be the winner for you! Fly in a “Gilicopter” operated by Air Bali.
Air Bali flies on Friday’s and Saturdays and can take up to 5 people depending on the weight.
Tips From My Experience
- This for some reason didn’t register in my brain, but since the Gili’s are part of Lombok, you are entering an entirely new country. Naturally, I forgot my passport. BUT they were able to accept my drivers license! I would bring your passport just to be safe, but if you’re prone to losing passports like me, I’d say you’re safe with just a drivers license.
- Be at the port 30 minutes before it leaves to get signed in. They leave promptly!
- The ride can feel like a roller coaster with all of the waves – especially in January and February with the rainy season. Just make sure to never hop on an overfilled boat because this can be super dangerous!
- Keep your ticket info to hand in on your boat ride back from Gili to Bali.
- If you’re traveling from Ubud to the Gili Islands, choose either Padang Bai or Amed.
- DO NOT RIDE THE HORSES!! They have these horses that can take you to your hotel or villa and it was so cruel 🙁 Some of the horses could barely walk and many looked like they needed water. Don’t support things like this and practice responsible tourism.
On a happier note – YOU’RE OFF TO THE GILI’S!!! This was my favorite place I visited in all of Bali, and you are going to fall in love too!
INDONESIAN TRAVEL GUIDES
Whenever I travel anywhere, I love reading about the destination I’m visiting. I was so surprised at how helpful my Spain guide was. This Bali & Lombok Lonely Planet Guide is my top pick!
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