For the year-long Bali dwellers, the Gilis are an opportunity to get away from day-to-day life and enjoy a mini tropical staycation.
For tourists and travellers, the Gilis offer the perfect holiday within a holiday vibe.
So, how do you get from Bali to the Gili Islands?
From my own experience of travelling to the Gilis, I have all the information you need to plan an epic trip to the small island paradises.
Pack your SPF and your flip flops, and get ready for an incredible adventure!
Travelling from Bali to the Gili Islands
There are a number of ways to get to the incredible Gili Islands from Bali.
The first and most popular way is by fast boat, which can be taken from Sanur Beach Port, Serangan Harbour or Padang Bai Harbour.
There is also a public ferry which leaves from Padang Bai Harbour with a stop off in Lombok – a much longer journey but a real bargain!
If you prefer to travel by air then you can hop aboard a plane from Bali Airport to Lombok Airport – with a quick boat transfer.
And finally, if you have big bucks to spend, there is an option to charter a private helicopter that will drop you off at Gili Trawangan – with a boat transfer available if Gili T isn’t your final destination.
Here are some more nitty gritty details about each of the options!
Taking a Fast Boat from Bali to the Gili Islands
To get a fast boat to the Gilis you can travel from either Sanur, Serangan or Padang Bai ports – depending on your chosen boat company.
It takes approximately 2.5 hours+ to get to the Gilis, and you will stop off at each island to let off passengers as well as collect people returning to Bali.
The majority of the fast boats have an open-top and enclosed bottom seating sections.
I personally love to sit at the top to feel the sea breeze, take in the views, and you will feel less of the bumps of the waves. Be armed with some sunscreen if you choose to do the same!
My favourite fast boat company is Ekajaya. They operate from all the main ports heading out to the Gilis, Nusa Penida and Lombok.
Ranging from IDR 600,000 to IDR 1,200,000 for a return ticket, the cost of a journey from Bali to Gili Islands will depend on your starting port and ending destination.
They also include a free hotel pick-up and drop-off in the ticket price – bargain.
Dependent on your chosen port and starting position, it will take around 4-5 hours from your Bali hotel to land your toes in the perfect sands of the Gilis.
The fast boats are a super flexible way to travel to the Gilis. With no return dates stamped on the tickets, just choose to use it whenever you please!
Tips for Taking a Fast Boat
- Arrive early – seats are on a first come first serve basis. If you have a preferred spot – either below deck or on top – be one of the first on board to secure it
- Pack light – if you can keep all your belongings in one hand luggage to stay with you throughout your boat ride, it’ll be a lot easier and quicker for you on arrival
- Have a sweatshirt and sunscreen – below deck usually has pumping air-conditioning that can get very chilly, but on the contrary the top deck has direct beaming sun the whole journey. Be prepared for both!
- Take a sea-sickness pill – if you have existing motion sickness issues, take your medication
- Book a round-trip ticket – not only is it much cheaper, operators are normally very flexible and will allow for changes to dates
Taking a Public Ferry from Bali to the Gili Islands
If you have plenty of time on your hands and want to do as the locals do, the public ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok is incredibly cheap and a whole experience in itself.
Easily the cheapest way to get from Bali to the Gili Islands, for as little as IDR 40,000 you can hop aboard for the 4-5 hour boat ride.
The public ferry will drop you off at Lembar port, so you will need to grab a local driver to zoom you over to Bangsal port which is approximately 1.5 hours away.
It is a great chance to enjoy a cruise and the stunning scenery of Lombok.
Finally, join the public ferry across to the Gilis for as little as IDR 20,000.
A trip to the Gilis on the public ferry will take around 7-8 hours, but can be a beautifully scenic experience.
Tips for Taking the Public Ferry
- Get on early for a good seat – you are going to be there for a while so you want to make sure you are comfortable, steady and can enjoy the view (the left side of the ferry has the best views of the Bali coast)
- Stock up on snacks – it could be a bumpy ride, and if you aren’t the most sea wise then some tasty snacks will help keep you distracted and a bit less seasick
- Be ready to get up close and personal – public ferries want to fit as many people as possible onboard, you could be getting very close with some other passengers
- Pack light – all your luggage will need to remain on your person throughout the journey, be sure to pack light and sensibly to avoid any problems
- Take note of the weather forecast – if you are travelling to the Gilis during the rainy season, the boat timetables can change minute-to-minute. Don’t be surprised by delays or a wet ride.
Taking an Airplane from Bali to the Gili Islands
For those who aren’t sea-worthy and would prefer to fly their way to paradise, it is possible to take a flight from Bali airport across to Lombok.
Cheap, reliable and a bit more of an adventure, this is a great option for those without sea legs.
A lot of airlines operate this route including Lion Air, Wings Air, Batik Air, Citlink and Garuda.
For the 30 minute flight prices can range from IDR 300,000 up to IDR 1,200,000 /one way.
After landing at Lombok airport, you will need to take a taxi to Bangsal harbour – which can take up to 2 hours – and hop on a speed boat across to the Gilis.
Tips for Taking an Airplane
- Pack light – although you may have a decent baggage allowance on the plane, the boat from Lombok to Gili will be small and open
- Carry some cash – have enough to be able to pay for the car transfer and boat
- Know your timings – getting an early flight will ensure you can easily find a boat to take you over to the Gilis. As the day gets later, the price will go up and boats will be less available
Taking a Helicopter from Bali to the Gili Islands
For the bad and boujee among us, the best way to get from Bali to the Gili Islands is by helicopter.
Taking just 45 minutes from Seminyak, Ubud, Jimbaran or Uluwatu, you can select your starting point to land in Gili Trawangan.
Luxurious, exclusive and a fantastic experience, splash some cash on a helicopter ride across to a tropical haven.
Tips for Taking a Helicopter
- Have your camera at the ready – there are going to be some amazing views between islands, be ready to capture the moment
- Be ready to hop on a boat – if you aren’t going to be spending your trip on Gili T, you will need to get a boat transfer over to one of the other islands
- Sit back and relax – a helicopter is the most glamorous way to get from Bali to the Gili Islands, enjoy it!
Which Bali Port is Best for Getting to the Gili Islands?
As I previously mentioned, there are 3 harbours from which you can catch a fast boat – or public ferry – over to the Gili Islands.
Sanur, Serangan and Padang Bali, which is the best?
Padang Bai Harbour
By far the most popular and easiest harbour to catch a fast boat across to the Gili Islands, Padang Bai sits in the East of Bali within the Karangasem Regency.
Although furthest from the tourist towns, Padang Bai is closest to the islands with just a 1.5 hour ride. Packed with fast boat companies, restaurants and local sellers hawking snacks and fans, the harbour is filled with activity and excitement for an adventure.
I highly recommend having booked your tickets before arriving at Padang Bai, many of the boat operators offer a free hotel pick-up service to make the journey as easy as possible, plus you won’t need to worry about haggling for a best price!
Quick tip – Check with your hotel if they have a preferred operator, or do some research to find one most suited to your budget. Be sure to also check online reviews regarding safety.
With morning departure times from 8am, you can expect an early pick-up and a full afternoon enjoying the island paradise that awaits.
Sanur Beach Port
Sanur Beach Port has very limited services to the Gili Islands as their main focus is transfers between Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Bali. However, there are a few companies that operate the route.
A fast boat from Sanur to the Gilis will take around 3 hours and will be slightly more expensive than Padang Bai. A perfect option for those who would prefer extra time on their boat trip than travelling across the island by car, Sanur is an easily accessible port with plenty of amenities nearby.
Sitting right on Sanur Beach, the port is just a moment’s walk from all the big resorts and hotels. If you are travelling from another part of the island, consider staying a night before your boat to enjoy the town and be super relaxed for your journey.
Finally, we have Serangan Harbour which is the most well facilitated of the options. Surrounded by restaurants, warungs and stores, you have everything you need to be ready and raring to go.
As it is a less popular harbour option, travelling by fast boat from Serangan Harbour can feel a lot more relaxed and exclusive. Not so many crowds, more personalised service and a 3 hour 10 minute boat ride to enjoy incredible scenic views of Bali island and far-off mountain ranges.
I now knight you a Gilis travel pro!
Whether you have travelled to the Gili Islands before and just wanted some more info, or are planning your first time trip, these tips and tricks will make sure you are able to organise the most suitable and comfortable journey for you.
I highly recommend the fast boat – there’s a reason why it is the most popular – quick, easy and reliable, you will arrive in the Gilis tropical utopia in no time.
Pop open a Bintang and enjoy an outstanding Gili Islands stay!