Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on June 30, 2023
The three tiny 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, practically guarantee exceptional snorkeling experiences. Gili Air is the closest of the three islands to Lombok, and certainly the quietest and most peaceful of the three Gilis.
To reach Gili Air, you have many options available, mainly from Lombok (Bangsal) and Bali (via Gili Trawangan), by ferry or speedboat. Inter-island boat transfers are also available (from/to Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan). Contact the various companies for up-to-date information.
You can snorkel almost all around the island, which is surrounded by coral reefs, but we particularly recommend the area on the map above. It is known for the richness of its marine life and the regular presence of sea turtles. The area extends along the southern tip of the island, between the Bel Air Resort & Spa and the Sunrise Resort. You can enter the water anywhere along the sandy beach.
The spot to explore covers a 150 to 200 yards-wide area between the beach and the reef drop-off. At this point, when starting from the beach, you will cross a few dozen yards of sandy areas and seagrass (↕2-6ft/0.5-2m), then a sea bed covered with coral (↕6-10ft/2-3m) as far as the reef drop-off (↕+20ft/6m).
The two sea turtles species, the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle, are mostly observed in the Gilis. The turtles feed on the seagrass, sometimes a few yards only from the beach. You can also encounter them on the coral areas along the drop-off, especially at high tide.
In Gili Air, like elsewhere in the archipelago, the turtles have been long used to human presence and can be easily approached and observed. Avoid disturbing the turtles. They have come to the area to feed and rest: don’t chase after them, don’t touch them, and leave them enough space when they come up to the surface to breathe.
While turtle-watching is the star attraction on the island, the other richness of the site should not be overlooked. Along a strip of ten or so yards along the reef drop-off, the seabed is covered by colorful soft and hard corals, even though some areas have been badly damaged in the past.
You will swim with hundreds of green chromis, scissortail sergeant damselfish and sea goldies. Sunburst butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) is the most common butterflyfish in the area. Clownfish are present but tend to be rare in the area. Try, instead, to spot a palette surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus, the absent-minded blue fish from “Finding Dory”, that pays regular visit to the site.
The reefs here were damaged in the past and are slowly regaining their former state. Don’t touch the coral and be careful not to break it with your swim fins. Watch out for boats that come and go frequently at this site when you are exploring the drop-off area.
On Gili Air, you’ll find countless beachside hotels, bungalows, cafés, bars and restaurants.
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:
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Sea turtles, vibrant reef drop off and underwater statues
Free shore access
Sea turtles and vibrant reef drop off
Free shore access
Shallow wreck with many corals and reef fish
Fringing coral reef with colorful fish
Fringing coral reef and underwater temple with colorful fish
Fringing coral reef and artificial reefs