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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, practically guarantee 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.

A pair of green sea turtles in Gili Trawangan
Sea turtles (here, a pair of green sea turtles) are easily spotted in Gili Trawangan, sometimes very close to the beach (here photographed in zone 1 on the map).

How to get to the Gili Trawangan snorkeling spot

Visitors can get to Gili Trawangan mainly from Lombok (Senggigi, Teluk Nare and Bangsal), Nusa Lembongan and Bali, 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 Trawangan snorkeling map - Turtle watching areas

Water entrance for snorkeling Gili Trawangan

You can snorkel almost anywhere around the island which is surrounded by coral reefs, but we recommend the two areas marked on the map above. These areas are known for the richness of their marine life and the abundance of sea turtles, particularly green sea turtles.

These two areas are located on both sides of the northeastern tip of the island, well sheltered from waves and currents. Here, the absence of a coral barrier allows snorkelers to explore the reef flat and 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 tips

The two snorkeling areas have approximately the same profile. Both cover a 150 to 200 yards-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 (↕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 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).

Green sea turtle in Gili Trawangan
Sea turtles are mainly seen in the seagrass meadows, but also on the reef drop-off.

This spot is certainly the best one in the Gilis to swim with green sea turtles. The turtles feed and rest on the sea grass beds in both areas, sometimes only a few yards 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.

School of mixed surgeonfish in Gili Trawangan
In addition to the sea turtles, Gili Trawangan reefs feature loads of reef fish, such as this school mixing several types of surgeons and a few parrots.

While swimming with turtles is the main attraction on the island, the other beauties of the area should not be overlooked. A strip of ten or so yards along the reef drop-off, has a seabed that 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 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 here 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 frequently in this area 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.




  • 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.