Your Magazine Guide to Gili Islands

  • Scuba Diving

An exceptional marine world full of beauty & biodiversity

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”
JACQUES COUSTEAU, Time Magazine, March 28, 1960

Divers from all over the world come to experience the underwater world of the Gili Islands.

Warm clear waters, many dive spots easily accessible and suitable to all levels make the Gilis a great diving destination, appealing to beginners who experience the Big Blue for the first time as well as to experienced or technical divers who are interested in small sea creatures and unusual dive spots.

Expect to swim with elegant white and black-tip sharks and friendly turtles, observe extravagant cephalopods and ghost pipe-fish hidden in plain sight and explore wrecks turned into the home of colourful fish schools!

Home to over 3,500 marine species including a variety of small sea creatures, the Gilis are also becoming a sought-after destination for muck diving. There are a multitude of centres that can plan just the right dive for you and the Gili Islands Dive Association ensures high diving standards and safe diving practices are applied at all times.

Every diver contributes to a “reef tax”, which is included in the cost of their first dive and goes to support the NGO Gili Eco Trust, a conservation organisation who implements projects such as coral reef restoration biorocks.

Levels of diving

  1. Open Water Diver
    Age: 10+ / 3-4 days
    Max dive depth: 18m
    You learn how to dive and get a certificate after passing an assessment at the end.
  2. Advanced Open Water Diver
    Age: 12+ / 2-3 days
    Max dive depth: 30m
    You perfect your skills with 2 compulsory dives: navigation and deep diving, you choose 3 other specialties.
  3. Rescue Diver
    Age: 15+ / 4 days
    You learn what to do in the event of a problem on various rescue scenarios.
  4. Dive Master
    Age: 18+ / 4 weeks+
    Working closely with an instructor, you learn how a diving centre works and acquire extensive experience by going on many dives.


  • Snorkelling

Turtles, Beautiful corals and all kinds of fish!

Snorkelling is a good way to freely explore the waters around the Gili islands. Let yourself drift with the current whilst being careful because sometimes it can be very strong.

You can easily rent the mask, snorkel and fins on all the Gili islands.

Another option is taking part in a snorkelling trip – a day out on a boat.

Many local agencies offer this service and you can book this trip on site or at your hotel. You leave in the morning around 9am for a full circuit of the Gilis, you stop for lunch and come back at about 4pm. Regardless of the island where you depart from, the boats will tour the most famous spots of the three islands, where marine life is abundant. Expect to see parrotfish and butterfly fish, dense schools of trevallies as well as some species of soft corals. Snake eels are also a common sight and you will most probably see giant turtles swimming along your side.


  • Water Sports

The Gili Islands offer endless possibilities for water lovers besides diving and snorkelling.

Enquire at one of the many watersport centres for a variety of activities on all the three islands. You can take a glass-bottom boat tour to see the underwater world without venturing into the ocean.

Rent a kayak and explore the coastline at your own pace or opt for a stand-up paddle board, a great way to approach the water and test your balancing skills.

On Gili Air and Gili Trawangan there are a few nice surf spots which are worth a “dawnie”.

Please be aware of currents and tides and surfing experience is advisable.

Subwing is the ultimate water sport that allows you to glide in the water pulled by a boat at slow speed, while parasailing will take you to new heights and safely land you back in the water! Have fun!


  • Freediving

A breath taking experience…

Summertime as a kid meant long days at the pool, which would end when my mom stood up and walked over to us to tell us it was time to go home.  Trying to extend the day for just a few more minutes, as soon as I would see my mom coming, I would take one breath and swim underwater to the other side of the pool so that my mom couldn’t talk to me. Little did I know that this was my unofficial introduction into freediving.

I had never tried scuba and definitely had never heard the term freediving before signing up for my first course. But after talking to the instructors of the shop, they had my attention. I’ve said for years that I am terrible at breathing, so I wasn’t sure I would be
any good at freediving. What I learned is that it is not so much about how you breathe, but about techniques, you learn to relax your body and mind so that you use less oxygen.

Freediving is a thing that almost everyone does, but you might not be familiar with the term either! Have you gone snorkeling and dived down to the bottom to get a closer look? That is freediving! Have you challenged your friends to see who could hold their breath the longest in the pool? Also freediving! Are you a surfer that goes for the big waves and spends some time underwater after awipeout? Freediving.

Now that I have completed a few freediving courses on Gili Air, I feel like so much more of the ocean is available to me.  When I see turtles on a snorkeling trip, I can safely stay underwater for much longer to be able to observe these beautiful neighbours of ours in their home (from a distance of course, don’t stress out the turtles!).

If I see something sparkling from the ocean floor, I know how to equalize the pressure in my ears so that they don’t hurt and I can dive down 20+ meters to check if it is lost pirate treasure (no luck so far).

Best of all,I have met so many other freedivers just by spending time going out on fun dives and spending time at the shop. Talking to other people that are also in this small, but very international community is so amazing.

Listening to other people who have seen whale sharks, mantas, pyrosome, just makes you want to grab your mask and suit, and a buddy (never freedive alone!), and head out to the nearest ocean to explore and just play in nature’s playground.

If you haven’t tried freediving yet, then make the most of your time here in the Gilis and sign up for a course. You will learn more about your body, about your mind, and then apply those things while you freedive and learn more about the ocean. It is an experience that can’t be compared to anything else.

See you in the blue!


  • Yoga

Get connected…

It’s no wonder that the Gilis are becoming a popular yoga destination. Stunning ocean views, colourful striped skies profiling Mount Rinjani and Mount Agung at sunrise and sunset and the natural setting make the Gilis an inspiring place to practice.

Many remarkable yoga schools scattered around the three islands offer classes that cater for the tastes of discerning yogis as well as to open-minded visitors who want to try yoga for the first time.

Ubud is Indonesia’s most famous yoga destination, but more and more people come to practice on the Gilis, where yoga classes can be taken in bamboo structures surrounded by peaceful gardens, rooftop terraces where you can meditate as the sun appears on the horizon, or breezy shalas on the beach.

For a closer contact with the water element, you can even try yoga on a stand-up paddleboard. Worst-case scenario you will have a refreshing swim!


  • Spa

Treat yourself…

There is no better way to relax after a day of diving and snorkelling or cruising around the Gilis than receiving a good massage. Many spas in the three islands offer different types of massages as well as all kinds of beauty treatments.

If you like it strong, we suggest to try traditional Sasak or Balinese massage, while for a more relaxing treatment, probably an Ayurvedic massage is the best option.

Pedicure and manicure for both men and women or different waxing techniques are available; ear- candles is a relaxing and unique way to have your ears cleaned and foot reflexology an excellent antidote to feet tired of walking around the islands.

You can choose to receive your treatment in an oceanview spa or in the quietness of a bamboo breezy terrace; also check out the spas of the best hotels on the islands, as they offer quality treatments at a good price.


  • Other Activities

There are uncountable activities you can enjoy on land in all three islands.

You can decide to learn how to cook delicious dishes from Indonesian cuisine or how to make jewellery, and even take part in an art class!

You may find yourself exploring WWII bunker remnants in Trawangan or riding a horse at sunset, sweating in the gym or dancing to the rhythm of salsa!

Try capoeira, samba, or explore different styles of yoga such as fly-high, sunset meditation, aerial silk or acroyoga!

When night falls, go for a movie on the beach or squeeze your brain and join a quiz night.

If you want to mingle with the locals, join them for a football or beachball match on the beach or challenge them in a badminton game!

Check the latest updates at one of the local agencies or ask at the reception of your hotel.