Gili Air Indonesia

Snorkelling on the Gili Islands – Gili Air

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Snorkelling on the Gili Islands - Gili Air

If you go to any of the Gili Islands, you must snorkel!!

The first time I visited the Gili Islands, we stayed on Gili Trawangan. We had an amazing time, but I never bothered to snorkel. I had tried snorkelling in Thailand a few years before, but had found it hard to get used to the breathing, and I didn’t do it for long enough to properly experience it. I was never interested in snorkelling after that.

After experiencing snorkeling on Gili Air, I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t try snorkelling on the Gili Islands before, and at every other chance I had!

As soon as we saw that amazingly clear water that surrounds the Gilil’s, we knew we had to check it out.

We rented snorkels from our accommodation for 50,000 IDR (or $5 AU, €3.40) and headed to the flawless beach to swim with the fish.

People Snorkelling on the Gili Islands, Gili Air


Snorkelling on Gili Air

For the first few minutes I found it hard to breathe. Water was getting into my blowhole and my goggles (they were too loose), so it was making me a bit stressed! I wasn’t loving the flippers either, so I took them off.

Luckily, I got over it nice and fast, and became completely enthralled by the amazing sights beneath the waves.
I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to snorkel on the Gili islands. There were so many fish and all the colours you could imagine. They were patterned, dotted, striped and streaked with luminous colours. It was like being in a cartoon.

It was so enthralling, being in that underwater world. The coral swayed seductively in the water as tiny fish made little popping sounds as they nibbled away. The way the coral seemed to breathe and dance was almost as amazing as the fish.

I hoped people couldn’t hear me gasping and saying ‘wow’ under the water, but I couldn’t help it.
We snorkelled all day, only coming up for air when we needed a short rest. It was so, so cool.

Snorkelling on Gili Islands, Gili Air

Much later on, it was feeding time.

From beneath the gently lapping waves, I saw a fishing boat come close.

The tourists on board got into the water, and their guide threw some sort of feed into the water.

Suddenly, it was like an underwater version of the streets of Hong Kong at lunch time as thousands of fish came out of the blue and darted towards the food suspended in the water. It was so surreal, and my favourite moment of the day. I got that cartoon feeling again and I loved it.

We spent the entire day snorkelling, walking to a few different spots around the small island of Gili Air. When we finally forced ourselves out of the sea for the night, we were still so excited about what we had seen, and I had a very painful bruise on my head from wearing my mask so tight all day. Not to mention a deep, deep indentation in the shape of the goggles!

When I got back to the room, I discovered that our first snorkelling session of the day, where we had spent four straight hours in the water, had resulted in extreme sunburn, of my ass.

I thought I had been smart because I wore a t-shirt for some of the day, and had factor 30 on, but I hadn’t counted on the fact that floating near the top of the water in direct sunlight meant that my behind was not protected from the sun. And so, I had a lovely roaring red and dazzling white bum for a really, really long time. The contrast of red and white was frankly amazing. So much so that I’m almost tempted to share a picture with you. Almost!

Lesson well and truly learned! While the rest of our idyllic time on Gili Air revolved around snorkelling and eating, I wore shorts and kept myself coated in an inch factor 30 at all times!

Have you been snorkelling on the Gili Islands?

Have you ever snorkelled or been scuba diving? How do the two compare? I’ve never scuba dived before!


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  • Reply
    susan cooper
    April 3, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve never heard of the Gili islands i must admit, but the pictures look awesome. It has always been a dream of mine to go snorkeling in Crystal clear blue water. Not sure if I’d be any good at it either, but in theory it sounds incredible. 🙂
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    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      April 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Susan, I wasn’t very good, but it’s not difficult once you get used to it. You should try to make your dream come true 🙂

  • Reply
    April 5, 2015 at 4:03 am

    I agree. The snorkeling around the Gilis is incredible. I did a snorkeling trip around the islands when was there last year…it just never gets old seeing sea turtles in their natural habitat 🙂
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    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      April 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Aw, I was so sad I didn’t get to see any sea turtles. Next time! I’ll just keep telling myself that. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 7, 2015 at 12:58 am

    The blue of the sea in that second photo is so gorgeous, it makes my heart ache with envy! I’ve been to Bali twice now, and never made it to the Gilis and I really wish I had! I love snorkelling, you really captured the sense of how wonderful it is to lose yourself in watching all the underwater life 🙂
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    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      April 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks Jo! My boyfriend took photos with an underwater camera, but we seem to have lost most of them. They didn’t really do it justice though! I hope you get to go the the Gilis soon 🙂

  • Reply
    April 9, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I have never heard about that place before but it looks amazing! I wish I could appear thee right now.

  • Reply
    Traveling Rockhopper
    April 17, 2015 at 8:37 am

    I’ve also never heard about this island, but looks like a paradise!
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  • Reply
    April 26, 2015 at 10:26 am

    very beautiful place and i love it.
    thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Hayley Simpson
    May 13, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I think I’m going to have to get to the Gili islands on my next Bali visit. I love snorkelling and that water looks incredible.
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  • Reply
    May 20, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Many times i tried to trip for gili friends says lot of things about Gili sure this time i will be their

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      June 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Yes, the Gili Islands are really beautiful, you will like them!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2015 at 8:44 am

    This is a fun activity. I really liked the snorkling. and one of the best locations I wanted to visit was Gili Lombok. very good reputation. exotic natural beauty and pristine marine habitat. nice post. hope that someday be able to Gili Lombok.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I did a 3 site snorkeling trip on Gili T. On my third spot, I had a personal tortoise to accompany me. What an amazing experience I had!

    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 1, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Wow that must have been such a great experience! I’d love to swim with a turtle!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Wonderful write up and amazing pictures.
    Best sunset of my life was on Gili Trawangan. No doubt i returned to Gili T after Rinjani trek, though not initially planned.
    You have a new follower 🙂
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    • Reply
      Christine Maguire
      September 21, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Thank you Amour! I would love to return to Gili T again

  • Reply
    April 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I just stumbled on your blog and have been religiously reading all your wonderful posts. I am heading to Bali and Gili T and September. I really would love to snorkel but I’m a very weak swimmer. Do you think it’s an issue based on your experience?

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    It certainly is a great place to snorkel, and it was interesting to read your take on it.

    Yes, you have to be very careful of the sun when out in it for so long. You tend to get caught up in the underwater surroundings, rather than take note of how long you have been in the sun with your head and bareback showing.
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