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Diving the Gili Islands, Lombok | Indonesia
emperor angelfish

The island of Lombok lies next to Bali and is often described as 'Bali how it used to be'. For divers there are two distinct diving areas – the tiny Gili Islands off Lombok's northern tip and the bays around the southern coast.

Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trewangan | These three islands are small and sandy, no roads, no cars and understandably haunted by long-term travellers. Gili Trewangan is the busiest hub for dive centres but as the islands are close together, you can dive around all three from whichever one you stay on, or for that matter from the nearby coastal resorts.

Dive sites are hardly ever more than 20 minutes from the beach and conditions are mostly easy, although stronger currents occur around the full moon. This, along with the proximity of the reefs, ensure these waters are perfect for novices and many people come here to train. Advanced divers will enjoy the deeper reefs, which have vast areas of pristine coral, huge swathes of hard corals and brightly coloured fans. Sharks are quite common and at certain times of the month, so are mantas.

Gili Islands, Lombok dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life Turtles
Whitetip sharks
Top dive site Simon's Reef
Seasons All year
Visibility 10 – 30 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Bali
Flights and transfers: Fly direct to Mataram from Singapore or via Bali (20 minutes). Transfers then take to 2 hours by road to the Gilis. As an option take the Gilicat speedboat direct from Bali to Gili Trewangan.
Dive operators and accommodation: Mostly small hotels and guest houses on the Gilis. On the coast opposite, it's larger, more formal complexes.

Easy to reach, Lombok is just a 20 minute flight from Bali. The pace varies on the three Gilis – Gili Trewangan is by no means quiet but has great night life and restaurants. Gili Air and Meno are quieter. Lombok's coastal beaches opposite the Gilis are more resort-orientated. Medana Beach is the location of the Oberoi, which is both classy and quiet and in a very romantic bay.


Conditions around the Gilis tend to be consistent and mostly easy-going. In the past, there was a lot of fishing, along with some bombing, and there is evidence of destructive practices. However, much of this is being resolved with bio-rock projects and artificial reefs promoting rapid reef regeneration. The shallows are rubbly and less than attractive but if you don't meet at least one turtle on every dive, you had your eyes shut. No matter what some will try to tell you, there is some very impressive diving here, especially below 20 metres.

We first went to Lombok as travelers in 1985. We snorkelled over the reef off Gili Air and were hooked. We have been back to dive there twice since and stayed in the lovely little Manta Dive bungalows on Gili Trewangan as well as at the fantastic Oberoi for a birthday celebration. Both were great.
Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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