Written by @Saschaflower
It’s everyone’s favourite question about the Gili Islands and rightfully so. Travel can easily become the most stressful part of traveling so we want to answer this question once and for all… How do I get there?
What’s the cheapest way? What’s the safest mode of transport?
The most popular way to get to the Islands and probably the easiest when traveling from Bali is to take a fast boat. There are many boat companies operating currently and the journey from Bali takes roughly 1hr 45minutes.
Most boat tickets include free pick up from your hotel in Bali and return tickets should include a transfer to your next destination when returning to Bali. They do not include a transfer to your hotel once you arrive in The Gili Islands!
Fast boats go directly to Gili Trawangan and Gili Air but if you are traveling to Gili Meno, you will need to take the boat to one of the other two islands and then hop on a scheduled public boat or hourly speed boat from there.
Top tip: Don’t forget to bring some water and snacks with you. You can buy these from one of the many street sellers at the harbour but prepare to barter prices! There are some shops at the harbour but the prices are slightly higher here because well, you’re at the harbour. Make life easier and buy snacks for the journey beforehand. Beer is available on the boats to get you in the party mood.
There is actually a number of harbours in Bali that you can leave from however without a doubt the 2 most popular harbours are Serangan and Padang Bai.
Serangan is only a 15 minute drive from Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar therefore, it is arguably the easiest harbour to travel from however, currently there is only 2 or 3 boat companies leaving from this harbour each day and the boats sell out tickets fast so make sure you pre book.
This is the most popular harbour amongst Gili Island visitors. It gets crazy busy during high season (June, July, August) and therefore can feel a little hectic. Most of the boat companies leave from this port. It is roughly a 2 hour drive from the airport so be sure to allow yourself time to get there before your boat is set to depart.
Other harbours in Bali with fast boats going to The Gilis: Sanur Beach, Amed Beach.
You can book your tickets online or you can book them with one of the many agents in Bali. Most hotels in Bali also help you to arrange your ticket. It is much better to pre book your tickets, the boats get fully booked very quickly and therefore we strongly urge you not to just turn up at one of the ports and attempt to buy your ticket there.
The prices for the fast boats vary throughout the year, depending on season. If you are planning your trip during the Gili high season (June, July, August) then expect to pay more for your ticket than you would at other times of the year.
The harbour that you are leaving from can affect the price of your ticket and some boat companies are cheaper than others. There really is no set price for the boat tickets. Typically, you should expect to pay between IDR 350,000rp – IDR 650,000rp for a one way ticket and for a return ticket between IDR 600,000rp – IDR 900,000rp.
If you are booking your ticket with an agent, don’t be afraid to discuss the price options. You are in Asia after all and most of the time, the first price is not the real price BUT be realistic and don’t expect to pay nothing for your ticket.
Top tip: If you are returning to Bali after your holiday in The Gilis it is always cheaper to buy a return ticket rather than 2 x one way tickets. You can also book an open return ticket if you don’t know your return date but if you do this be sure you check in with the boat company you have booked with a day or so before planning to return to Bali.
This is without a doubt, the most stylish way to travel direcly fro
m Bali to Gili. This trip takes roughly 45mins each way. It’s definitely not as popular as the fast boat and this is probably down to the fact that it costs a lot more money! Nevertheless, if you are able to afford this then it is a spectacular alternative to the fast boats and I expect, a lot less cramped. The price of the helicopter is around IDR 64,000,000 mil and can seat between 1-5 passengers.
If you are a hardcore budget backpacker, or perhaps you really enjoy boat trips and just want to enjoy the sights for as long as possible…the ferry may be a good alternative for you. The ferry leaves the port at Padang Bai harbour in Bali everyday starting around 10am and then every 1.5hours after that until later in the afternoon. This journey takes around 4-5 hours depending on sea conditions and only costs IDR 40,000rp each way.
The ferry will not take you directly to the Gilis but instead will drop you off at Lembar harbour in Lombok. From here you will need to arrange for a driver to take you to Bangsal harbour in order to take a public boat to one of the Gili Islands. The ferry is by far the cheapest way to get to the Islands.
Top tip: Grab a seat as quickly as possible on the ferry as seats fill up fast and definitely bring snacks and supplies. There are refreshments sold on the Ferry but you’ll be very limited for choice.
If boats aren’t your thing and understandably you can’t afford the helicopter ride to the Islands. The only other option to get to the Islands is to fly from Bali to Lombok. Flights are cheap and have a duration of around 30mins. Once you arrive at the airport in Lombok you will need to arrange for a driver to take you to Bangsal harbour where you can take a public boat to the Islands.
Once you have arrived at Bangsal harbour, book yourself onto a public boat (IDR 12,000-20,000) to one of the islands or an hourly speed boat (IDR 85,000-100,000). Boats normally stop operating after 5pm.
This is an impossible question to answer and definitely comes down to your own preference. As with all travel methods, there are risks involved for each. We can only recommend that you choose the transport that you feel most comfortable on.
No matter what mode of transport you decide to use remember that although It might feel like a long journey at the time… we promise you it’s worth it!
Top tip: Stay patient, everyone is trying to get somewhere.