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 there?

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

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere along the sandy beach.

You can do snorkeling all around the island, surrounded by coral reefs, but we particularly recommend you the area on the map below, known for the richness of its marine life and the abundance of sea turtles, particularly the green sea turtle.

Gili Trawangan snorkeling map, Indonesia

Exploration

The spot to explore covers a 150 to 200 meters-wide area between the beach and the reef drop-off. At this point, 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).

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, 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.

Surgeonfish and parrotfish at Gili Trawangan

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. 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 small groups of Moorish Idols, or sixbar wrasse, which is more shy however.

Sea urchin at Gili Trawangan

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

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



Species you may spot while snorkeling Gili Trawangan
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas  
Hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata  
Orange band surgeonfish Acanthurus olivaceus  
Lined surgeonfish Acanthurus lineatus  
Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis  
Sunburst butterflyfish Chaetodon kleinii  
Raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon lunula  

 

  • 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.