This spot has been added by


7 spots added - 76 photos shared

Other contributors You can help us keep this page up-to-date by uploading your pictures to the photo gallery, or by sending us your comments via the contact form

Last updated on

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.

The snorkeling area at Gili Air
Impossible to resist Gili Air’s crystal-clear waters!

How to get to the Gili Air snorkeling spot

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.

Gili Air snorkeling map, Indonesia

Water entrance for snorkeling Gili Air

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.

Gili Air snorkeling tips

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).

A hawksbill sea turtle dives back to the reef at Gili Air
A hawksbill sea turtle is diving back to the reef after coming up to the surface to breath.

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.

A gorgonian at Gili Air's reef
The reef drop-off features healthy coral, including beautiful examples of gorgonian.

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.

A spotfin lionfish at Gili Air's reef

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.

Restaurants and accommodation in Gili Air

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


  • 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


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 a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle that is swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movements 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.