Boats Gili Air Travel Tips

How to Get to the Gili Islands from Bali

How to Get to the Gili Islands from Bali - Slow Ferry or Fast Boat? thetraveloguer.com

If you are ever in Bali, you should really visit the Gili Islands. The three amazing pockets of paradise are located off the coast of Lombok, only a short boat ride from Bali.

It is really easy to get to the Gili Islands from Bali. Boat tickets can be purchased from any of the multiple tourist shops dotted all around Kuta.

If you are in Ubud, you can easily find a place to book a ticket, and although I can’t speak from experience with other locations in Bali, your accommodation should be able to book a ticket for you if there are no travel agents selling boat tickets to the Gili’s.

There are a couple of choices when you are deciding how to get to the Gili Islands from Bali. The first time I went from Bali to Gili Trawangan, I took the slow boat, the local ferry. The second time, we went for the fast boat. This decision was based on the fact that we had lost time due to Nyepi,and were dying to get to the Gili Islands!

 

How to get to the Gili Islands from Bali?

Option 1 –

Fast Boat

How to get to Gili from Bali - Fast Boat - The Traveloguer

The first option is the ‘fast boat.’ This will be a relatively newish boat that travels fast, and your ticket will include pick-up from your accommodation in Bali, as well as transport to the port. (Make sure you ask the travel agent if this is the case).

There are also more expensive ‘high speed’ or ‘luxury’ boats on offer, but the regular fast boat is all you need.
We paid 200,000 Indonesian Rupiah (€14.50 / $15.40 US / $14.50), but were quoted different amounts from different places. In Kuta, there are literally hundreds of travel agents, so you can easily find another if you are being quoted too high a price for your boat to the Gili Islands.

Most of the packages include the following:

-Pick up from your accommodation.

-Transport to the dock/pier.

-Boat ride to the Gili Islands.

 

We purchased our ticket the night before we left.

You pay upfront, and tell the travel agent where you are staying. You will be given a receipt and a time for pickup.

Bear in mind that the time they say you will be picked up at isn’t exactly set in stone. But you will be picked up, so don’t worry.

On the morning of our departure, we waited outside our accommodation for close to an hour before a minivan came. We took off down side streets to pick up other travellers. By the time we had filled the van, it seemed like a long time had passed and we were still on the streets of Kuta.The drive took a few hours to get to Pedang Bai.

Pedang Bai, Bali - How to get to Gili from Bali thetraveloguer.com

We were given coloured stickers to wear and our bags were unloaded and moved somewhere. Everyone went to the cafe to wait. We ordered the delicious big rolls that are the staple of many a backpacker’s diet. Tuna, with a crinkle cut piece of cucumber and some tomato. Yum.

After a while, people started to move to the pier, so we followed them. We got on to a modern looking boat and took an airplane-like seat in a bright cabin.

The journey was accompanied by the sound of a DVD being blasted from the front of the boat. It was really hot, and my pen stopped working due to the heat. You can sit out on the deck if you prefer. The fast boats stop at each of the Gili Islands, so just pay attention to the crew as they announce which island is coming up.

How to Get from Bali to Gili - The Travelgouer

We got off at Gili Air, jumping into the crazy clear water and making our way to the blindingly white sand.

We had arrived with no accommodation booked, as is the usual way. After gathering our strength. we put our backpacks back on and started walking on the sand path, happy to be on our tropical island.

gili air indonesia tropical paradise

How to Get to the Gili Islands from Bali?

Option 2 –

Local Ferry

How to Get from Bali to GIlil - Local Ferry thetraveloguer.com

Another option to get from Bali to the Gili Islands is the local ferry. This is much cheaper than the fast boat to the Gili’s. It takes longer, and involves more driving. See, when you get the local ferry from Bali to the Gili Islands, you depart from Padang Bai, and the ferry goes to Lembar Harbour in South-West Lombok. From there, you have to get across Lombok, in order to get another boat to the Gili Islands.

We took this route on my first visit to the Gili Islands. I can’t remember the price we paid, (pre-blogging days!) but it did include our transport in Lombok, and it was cheap.

The ferry ticket itself costs 40,000 IDR (€2.90 / $3 US / $4 AU).

When we did this trip, we left from Ubud, and we got transport to the port in Pedang Bai. It’s a 37 km drive. The ferry departs from Padang Bai every hour each day and it takes 4-6 hours. When we did it, the departure time was 7 am. However, the ferry departed long after 7 am, and the journey was very slow.

When you get to Pedang Bai, you will wait around for a while before being told to walk the fair distance to the ferry. You should stock up on snacks here. We bought a rice dish wrapped in a banana leaf that was nice.(And you know I’m always packing enough biscuits and snacks to keep me going!)

You aren’t guaranteed a seat on the slow ferry. We sat on the ground and leaned on our backpacks, but there wasn’t much room where we were, as people needed to walk past us. The breeze was nice, but the engine was very loud and the ground was vibrating.

View from the Ground of the Local Ferry from Bali to GIli | The Traveloguer

There are inside seats, and seats that are on the upper deck and in the shade. They looked like the best ones to get.

When you get to Lombok, you have to get a taxi or some form of transport to Bangsal harbour. In our case, we were able to get a mini bus that was part of our ticket.

(I’m not 100% about this, but I think when you get off the ferry, there is a long walk to get to where the mini buses are. We may have gotten a tuk-tuk. Sorry I can’t remember for certain!)

We drove for a while before stopping for one of those delightful ruses that are so typical of a South-East Asian trip. Officially, we had to stop to get the onward boat tickets or something. In reality, we hung around for about an hour and were encouraged to buy return tickets to get back from Gili, and to pre-book accommodation. If you have never experienced this before, you could easily think that buying a return ticket is the right thing to do. It’s not. Just say you don’t know where you are going after the Gili’s.

The drive in Lombok is pretty. There are rice fields and lush green landscapes to enjoy.

You will have to make yet another stop at a cafe on the side of a dirt road. You are told you are waiting for the boats or something.

We had to wait for a while, and were strongly encouraged to buy things, as it would be our last chance. We were told there was no mozzie spray and other essentials on the islands.

We actually fell for this one because we didn’t want to risk having no mozzie spray. Rest assured, you can buy all of these things on the Gili Islands, and the mozzie spray was one third the price that we paid.

After a while, we were told that the boats were down the road, and we should go now. This was a bit of a challenge for me and the girls because of the damn backpacks and the stretch of road that seemed too far. We were encouraged to pay for a horse and cart, which we did, and then felt like complete amateurs as we passed our fellow backpackers with their sensible bags.

Once you get down to the water, you get on a wooden long boat. These boats are nice, and it’s relaxing to be on them, with the wind in your hair as you approach the Gili Islands while the sun is setting.

How to Get from Bali to Gili - Slow Boat - thetraveloguer.com

When we arrived after the fast boat, it was afternoon. We had time to look for accommodation, go for a swim and enjoy our first Gili Air sunset with a drink. When we arrived on Gili Trawangan after the slow boat, it was dark and by the time we found accommodation and got something to eat, it was pretty late.

 

Recap: Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali by Boat

How to to Gili from Bali - thetraveloguer.com

Book your boat from Bali to Gili from any travel agent, or your accommodation.

For the fast boat, expect to pay 200,000 ($20)

If you wish to take the ferry, the cost of the ferry ticket is 40,000 (€4). There may be extra charges if you book through a travel agent, which is recommended as they will sort your transport on Lombok, as you need to get to another port once you arrive in Lombok.

The fast boat takes under half a day, as you are picked up early, at around 7am, and you arrive at the Gili of your choice after lunch time.

The slow boat journey starts early too, but you arrive on the Gili Islands when it is getting dark.

Both boat options have an early start.

Both involve not really being sure what’s happening.

Both do involve a good bit of travel.

So, in terms of saving time and money – on the local ferry you will spend less. If you take the fast option, you will have less travel time, and you don’t have to drive around Lombok.

In terms of time, you only gain a few hours.

So, if you aren’t too pushed for time, and you want to save money, then take the ferry.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Tim
    May 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Very cool post. Last time I went to Gili Trawangan the only option was option 2 and I have some great ferry crossing experiences; from calm seas to rough where the sensitive stomachs of local travelers left last nights meal in splotches all over the steel deck. Other times it was blazing hot and diving into the water seemed like a viable and inviting option. I should get back there.
    Tim recently posted…Kalahari’s New DayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      June 4, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks Tim. I would hate to have experienced the vomit splattered journey!

  • Reply
    Camille
    May 9, 2015 at 6:27 am

    I am thinking of making it to the Gilis next time I go to Bali, which is likely to be very soon, so this is perfect timing! Thanks for the info 🙂
    Camille recently posted…Wanderlust Instagrammy Awards: Malaysia in 20 Amazing PicturesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Gabrielle
    May 22, 2015 at 3:50 am

    nice post. I always think to use boats if my vacation to Gili Lombok. because in this way seems to present an experience that is cool, unique and fun. and your post gives an idea of the well. nice post. and thanks.

  • Reply
    Anthony
    June 11, 2015 at 3:13 am

    We loved our time in the Gili islands and took the option of the local ferry to get to Bali – was a long journey but great to see more of Lombok and examples of local life. Check out our Indonesia Blog for ideas and tips from our experiences.

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      June 24, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Exactly, it’s a great way to see more of Indonesia that you may not have seen if you were going to the Gili’s only.

  • Reply
    Danial
    August 5, 2015 at 7:22 am

    If you are ever in Bali, do visit the Gili Islands AND Lombok. Lombok is a different beast to the hustle and bustle of Bali. It’s more laid back and it really has that lazy island feel to it.
    Danial recently posted…Gunung Batur, Bali – In Search Of The Elusive Volcano SunriseMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Hi Danial, I loved Lombok too, we stayed in Kuta Lombok and did a lot of driving around the island. It’s really beautiful and the people are all so nice. I would love to go back to Lombok!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Xavier Polvoskie
    May 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Hello guys. If u have a vacation on Bali, I totally recommend you to go to the Gili, namely to the Trawangan
    island. To get there just ask guys from easygili. com how to buy ticket on speed boat. They helped me. So,
    now you’re standing on the coast of the island. Now you can do what you want, but don’t drink cheap alchohol
    or you may die. This is bad idea to do it here. Buy a beer, man. Everybody have to dive at least one time and
    try local fishing. The feeling was inexpressible!

  • Reply
    Veronika
    June 8, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Hi, I think this is the only out of 20 blog posts that really explains things in detail and made me understand the transport rules.
    So at the end would you advice to take the boat from agency?
    What do you think of the online booking tools – there the price for return trip between Bali and Gili T i about 100 Dollars. Is that realistic in your view?
    Thanks
    V.

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      June 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Veronika, I’m so glad you found this useful!

      I would advise you wait until you get to Indonesia before you book anything. I personally wouldn’t recommend you use the online booking tools, particularly as the price you quoted is very high. I would budget about $20-25 USD to get to the Gili Islands, but you could definitely get it for cheaper, but use that amount as a guide. It is really easy to book a boat from Bali, there are many options to purchase tickets there and it is really convenient. I hope this helps. Do let me know if you have any other questions!
      Christine Maguire recently posted…Jobs on the Road- Working as a Kiwi Packer in Keri Keri, New ZealandMy Profile

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