The fastest way to travel to the Gilis Islands from Bali is to take a fast boat. The quickest route is from Padang Bai, but there are also options from Serangan and Sanur. It’s best to check the schedules and prices with your accommodation or a local travel agent before making a booking, as routes can change.
There are multiple companies that operate boats between Bali and the Gili Islands. The prices are usually the same regardless of which company you book with, but the boats vary in size and comfort. Small fast boats can be bumpy and uncomfortable if the sea is rough, so it’s best to avoid them if you suffer from motion sickness. Eka Jaya is the largest operator, and their boats are the most comfortable if you are worried about getting seasick.
The boats from Padang Bai depart from the pier in front of the fast boat offices (Google Map search “Padang Bai Fast Boat Harbour”). You can also catch them from some hotels on the north coast, but they will be a bit more expensive. The trip to the islands takes 1.5-2 hours and will drop off at Gili Trawangan, then Meno and finally Air. You can book your tickets online through BookAway or 12GoAsia, but it’s best to ask your accommodation for a recommendation – they will know the reputable companies.
If you are staying in northern Bali, there are ferries that sail to the Gilis from Amed. The ride is slightly longer than if you’re travelling from Padang Bai, but the price is much lower. If you’re travelling on a budget, this option may be worth looking into.
Once you’ve arrived on the island, there are plenty of things to do. Depending on your interests, you can explore the beaches, hike to the top of the volcano, go scuba diving, or just relax on the beach. But the most popular activity is to watch the sunset at one of the beautiful viewpoints around the island. The sunset at Bukit Merese or Bukit Seger is especially spectacular and should not be missed.
If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s also possible to save money by renting a scooter in the capital of the island, Denpasar. Then you can use it to explore the rest of the island and the neighboring ones. Just be sure to wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road. The roads can be quite narrow and confusing, so it’s important to pay attention and drive carefully. You can even find a place to leave your scooter for cheap, if you’re not planning on using it during your stay in the islands. Just be aware that some places require you to leave a deposit for the bike, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation beforehand. Otherwise, you can rent a scooter at most of the tourist information centers on the island. There are also many motorbike taxis that will take you to your destination for a very affordable price. rent a boat nusa penida