The three small Gili Islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coral reefs, are among the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia, and certainly one of the best snorkeling area in Southeast Asia. The crystal-clear waters of these paradisiacal islands, where turtle-watching is the star attraction, are the guarantee of exceptional snorkeling experiences. Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most populated of the three islands. Known as the « party island », Gili Trawangan is easily reachable from both Bali and Lombok.

How to get to Gili Trawangan for snorkeling?

Visitors gets to Gili Trawangan mainly from Lombok (Senggigi, Teluk Nare and Bangsal), Nusa Lembongan and Bali, by ferry or speedboat. Inter islands boats transferts are also available (from/to Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan). Contact the different companies for up-to-date information.

Snorkeling with green sea turtle at Gili Trawangan
Sea turtles (here, a green sea turtle) are easily spotted in Gili Trawangan, sometimes very close to the beach (here photographed in zone 1 on the map).

Water entrance for snorkeling Gili Trawangan

You can snorkel almost everywhere around the island, surrounded by coral reefs, but we particularly recommend the two areas marked on the map below, known for the richness of their marine life and the abundance of sea turtles, particularly the green sea turtle. These two areas are located on both sides of the north-eastern tip of the island, well sheltered from waves and currents. Here, the absence of a coral barrier allow snorkelers to explore the reef flat but also the reef drop off.

You can enter the water directly from the sandy beaches. Be careful in the northern area (zone 2 on the map), as there is sharp coral very close to the beach (wear water shoes).

Gili Trawangan snorkeling areas map

Gili Trawangan snorkeling tips

The two snorkeling areas have approximately the same profile. Both cover a 150 to 200 meters-wide area between the beaches and the reef drop-off. At these points, starting from the beach, you will cross a few dozen yards of sandy areas and seagrass (↕0.5-2m), then a sea bed covered with coral (↕2-3m) as far as the reef drop-off (+6m).

The northern area (zone 2 on the map) is less crowded, and less frequented by boats. The coral is also best preserved there, compared to the eastern area (zone 1 on the map).

Snorkeling with a green sea turtle over Gili Trawangan reef
Sea turtles are mainly seen in the seagrass meadows, but also on the reef drop off (here, a green sea turtle on the northern reef, zone 2 on the map).

This spot is certainly the best one in the Gilis to swim with green sea turtles, which uses to feed and rest on the sea grass beds in both areas, sometimes a few meters only from the beach. You can also meet hawksbill sea turtles on the coral areas along the drop-off, especially at high tide.

On Gili Trawangan, like on Gili Meno and Gili Air, the turtles have been long used to human presence and can be easily approached and observed. Avoid disturbing the turtles, which come to the area to feed and rest: don’t chase after them, don’t touch them, and leave them enough room when they come up to the surface to breathe.

Surgeonfish and parrotfish at Gili Trawangan
Some areas of this spot are really fishy (here, a school of several surgeonfish species, accompanied by a few parrotfish, photographed in zone 1 on the map).

While swimming with turtles is the main attraction on the island, the other beauties of the area should not be overlooked. Along a strip of ten or so meters along the reef drop-off, the seabed is full of marine life. The reef is covered with soft and hard corals, and plunges abruptly down toward an immaculate sandy seabed. Parrotfish are abundant on the drop-off, as are butterflyfish and surgeonfish, often seen in large schools. You will also come across Moorish Idols, batfish, lined surgeonfish, blackbelly triggerfish and sixbar wrasse.

School of longfin batfish in Gili Trawangan
A school of longfin batfish (platax teira) photographed in Gili Trawangan northern reef flat (zone 2 on the map).

The reefs were damaged in the past and are slowly regaining their former glory. Don’t touch the coral and be careful not to break it with your swim fins. Watch out for boats that come and go on this site when you are exploring the drop-off area.

Restaurants and accommodation in Gili Trawangan

On Gili Trawangan, you’ll find countless beachside hotels, bungalows, cafés, bars and restaurants.



Live a close encounter with green and hawksbill sea turtles in this video 👇 by Maima.

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  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth6m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersBoats crossing in the area
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Sea turtle watching in the Gili Islands

snorkeling-turtle

Sea turtles (both green and hawksbill) are a familiar sight in the Gili Islands. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:

  1. Do not attempt to touch or ride sea turtles
  2. Stay at a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movement and allow sea turtles plenty of space when they come up to the surface to breathe

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.