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 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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Shallow wreck with many corals and reef fish
Fringing coral reef with colorful fish
Free shore access
Fringing coral reef and underwater temple with colorful fish
Fringing coral reef and artificial reefs