The Gilis do not have an airport and sea planes have yet to catch on. You'll have to fly first to Mataram, Lombok, and then take a boat.
On arrival in Mataram, if you haven't organized private transportation, purchase a ticket from the taxi office to either Bangsal (public harbor) or Teluk Nare or Teluk Kodek (both private harbors). The journey takes approximately 40 minutes; cost is about Rp120,000 each way. The taxi can take you on the Monkey Forest route or the coastal route, so you can get in a touch of sightseeing on your way. Either route takes the same amount of time and the same amount of money -- although the coastal route is prettier.
The trip will take you across the Wallace Line, a deep water boundary, running from Australia to Borneo. To the east live Asian and Australasian flora and fauna, and to the west live Asiatic. Chances are you will see dolphins and a whole array of bird life, which seem to also observe the boundary.
Public Boat from Bangsal Public Harbour, Lombok -- Taxis must finish their journey at the port gate which, for reasons best known to the cidomo drivers, is 600m (1,968 ft.) from the actual port. You can either walk these last 600m (2,000 ft.) or take the ever-present cidomos, although at an average of Rp30,000 per single journey it is hardly going to break the bank. Once at the harbor, buy a boat ticket from the office; do not be tempted to buy a ticket from anyone else, no matter how enticing the so-called deal may sound. Prices from the ticket office at Bangsal are fixed.
|Costs (Rp) to:||Air||Meno||Trawangan|
|Charter (up to 12)||155,000||170,000||185,000|
Boats run daily 8am to 4:30pm; the journey takes approximately 40 minutes but can take longer depending on the weather.
Bangsal has a small shop selling snacks and toiletries. You can either buy here or wait until you arrive on the islands. All the islands now have their own basic stores.
Fast Boat from Bali
A number of direct fast boat services are now available from Bali to Gili T. No boat service is available to Gili Meno as it is too shallow; Island Getaway offers a service to Gili Air, too, if required, at no extra cost. If you are staying in Kuta, Seminyak, and Sanur, one of the most established options is Blue Water Express from Benoa Harbour. For those staying near Ubud, Candidasa, or the east coast, it is quicker to depart from Pandangbai, about 2 hours from Seminyak. Check the weather forecast before you book as the journey is far more pleasant on calm seas.
The Blue Water Express (tel. 0361/723479; 08/1338418988 after hours; www.bwsbali.com) departs Bali International Marina in Benoa Harbour daily at 8am and from Gili T at 11am. Journey time is 2 to 2 1/2 hours; tickets cost Rp690,000 one-way; Rp1,300,000 round-trip.
The Gili Cat (tel. 0361/271680; www.gilicat.com) departs Padangbai (east Bali) daily at 9am; from Teluk Kode, Lombok, at 11:45am; and from Gili Trawangan at 11:15am. Journey time is around 2 hours; tickets are Rp660,000 one-way; Rp1,200,000 round-trip. Afternoon service leaves Bali at 1:30pm and Gili T at 3:30pm.
Island Getaway (tel. 0361/753241; www.gili-paradise.com) boats depart Benoa Harbour daily at 8am; and from Gili Trawangan at 11:30am. The trip takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours; tickets are Rp650,000 one-way; Rp1,300,000 round-trip.
Black Pearl (tel. 08/17343168; www.bluewatercruises.com) leaves from Serangan Harbour at 9am and returns from Gili T at 1pm stopping at Teluk Kode. The trip takes 2 1/2 hours; tickets are Rp680,000 one-way; Rp1,260,000 round-trip.
Getting on the Right Boat -- Each boat heading to the Gili Islands has a strip down its bow: white is for Gili Air; yellow for Gili Meno; and blue for Gili Trawangan.
Shuttle Bus & Boat from Bali
If you have time or a tight budget, you may wish to experience how the locals travel. Catch the public ferry (capacity 100) from Padangbai. Perama Tours (main office: Legian 39, Kuta; tel. 0361/751551 or 0361/751875; www.peramatour.com) shuttle bus and boat service runs daily from several points on Bali by bus to Padangbai, then direct to Gili T on the slow boat. The service takes around 8 hours. Though the boat looks like it lists heavily, fear not, it has looked this way for a long time. Times and prices are from: Kuta, 10am, Rp350,000; Sanur, 10:15am, Rp350,000; Ubud, 11am, Rp350,000; Padangbai, 1:30pm, Rp300,000; Candidasa, 12:30pm, Rp325,000; Lovina, 9am, Rp450,000.
The return leg from Gili T leaves at 7am and 9am from Senggigi.
A Local Experience
You can also negotiate with the local fishermen in Amed, Bali, who will sail you in their jukung to any of Gilis. The whole village gets involved in making these boats, carved from a single tree trunk with an outrigger on each side. The journey takes about 3 hours. It's a lovely way to see the coast, watch for sea life, and enjoy a local experience. The seats are wooden struts and the cover overhead from the sun can be inadequate where it exists. Expect to pay between Rp200,000 to Rp300,000 for the boat, which should fit up to four people. If you're on Lombok, hire a boat from the west coast.
Taking the Local Boats -- None of the local boats carry life jackets. With little shade, it can also get hot on the boat, so take strong sun block and a hat.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.