How to get to the Gili islands from Lombok
GETTING TO THE GILI ISLANDS FROM LOMBOK is a short 35 minute fast boat ride, right to the island of your choice. But if you have time to spare and you want to experience how the locals live, then jump on the public boats from Bangsal Harbour.
Landing in Lombok from overseas and catching a boat to the Gilis on the same day takes some coordination, unless you intend on chartering a speedboat or making a deal with an outrigger boat. The cheapest way to get to the Gilis on the other hand, is on the public boat which costs less than US$1 and departs in the morning at 7.30am, and in afternoon at around 4.30pm.
If you’re spending the night in Lombok and transferring to the Gilis the next day, then there’s plenty of homestays and hotels in Senggigi, which is 20 minutes away from Bangsal. It’s not our favourite spot in Lombok, but it’ll do for the night.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting to the Gili islands from Lombok.
Bangsal ticket office
You’ll find the ticket office right on the seafront. It’s open from 8am to 4.30pm and only buy your tickets from there. The touts will try to persuade you otherwise. They’ll also want to carry your bags for you, this is not a free service. If you need help with your clunky cases, negotiate beforehand and double check that they’re talking Rupiah and not dollars.
Shuttle boats from Bangsal operate twice a day, at 8.15am and 4.30pm. A ticket to the islands should cost less than IDR25,000 (depending on which island you’re hopping off at). And you can also charter a boat for a group of 10, one way or return. Prices start from IDR135,000 for a one-way charter and escalate after dark.
Fast boat from Teluk Nara and Teluk Kodek
Located on the west coast of Lombok, about 25 minutes drive from Senggigi are two fast boat terminals. Most travellers depart from Teluk Nara. Teluk Kodek on the other hand is used by resorts such as Villa Ombak, The Beach House, Ko-Ko-Mo and Scallywags to transfer guests from Lombok to Gili Trawangan by private speedboat.
Blue Water Express makes several trips between Teluk Kodek and the Gilis, mostly stopping in Gili Trawangan and Gili Air only. Gili Getaway is another fast boat service that allows you to purchase tickets online, it’s just more pricey (almost double the price) doing it this way. But you pay for peace of mind.
Getting to Gili Meno from Lombok is tricky since the fast boats from Lombok don’t seem to stop there. You can make a request with the fast boat operators, but they might only agree to make a stop in Gili Meno if the crowds warrant the stop.
If you’re travelling in a group of five, then chartering a private speed boat through the Lombok Network might be a good way to go. Especially if your flight lands at an awkward time and you want to get to the Gilis pronto. The charter for a group of five costs US$132 one-way and includes an airport transfer.
You can also simply turn up at Teluk Nara or Teluk Kodek and negotiate a price with one of the many outrigger boats there. It’s a beautiful scenic trip on a calm day, plus you can strike a deal to hire the boat for the entire day and do some island hopping and snorkeling. A fair deal for a day trip is in the region of IDR600,000.
Public ferry from Bangsal Harbour
Lombok’s public boats to the Gili islands aren’t the most convenient way to travel. The boats wait around to fill up, and if you’re late, there might not be a seat left for you. But if you have an appetite for adventure and promise that you won’t get upset if it doesn’t work out, then you’re in for a real bargain. Tickets cost just IDR8,000 (Gili Air), IDR9,000 (Gili Meno) and IDR10,000 (Gili Trawangan). The journey takes about 2 hours.
If you don’t get a seat, you can always go back to Teluk Nara (10 minutes away from Bangsal), and get a fast boat from there. Or spend another night in Lombok and try again the next day. You’ll find some basic homestays right across the road from the harbour.
You really have to be flexible if you’re going to chance it on the public boat. Let’s face it, for US$1, the locals who use it everyday don’t care if you post a negative review on Tripadvisor.
Is it better to get to the Gili islands from Lombok instead of Bali?
Yes. Especially in January and February when the seas get rather choppy between Bali and the Gili islands. Also a big plus, bypassing the chaos of Kuta – which is the way majority of visitors get to the Gilis.
Now that the Lombok international airport has opened, visitors from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Perth can enjoy a more hassle-free way of getting to the Gilis. There are rumours that the direct flights to Lombok from Perth may stop if the route doesn’t get used more frequently, so there’s a good excuse to book your tropical island holiday now!