Bali to Gili Made Easy: My Top Tips for an Effortless Bali to Gili Islands Day Trip

Can you do a day trip to Gili islands from Bali? OF COURSE! A Bali to Gili Islands day trip is the perfect way to experience crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. Whether you’re an avid snorkeler looking to explore the underwater world or simply seeking a relaxing day in a tropical paradise, this journey is sure to leave you in awe.

Having navigated the waters between these islands more times than I can count, I’ve gathered a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and heartfelt advice to share – consider me your personal guide.

But before you set off on this Gili island Bali day trip, there are a few things you’ll need to plan and prepare for to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From transportation options to must-see attractions, I’ve got you covered with everything you need to know for your Bali to Gili Islands day trip.

Want to have all the logistics and planning sorted for you? Book the Gili island tour from Bali

top pick

Gili islands snorkelling with turtles



🤿 Private return hotel transfers in Bali

🤿 Multiple Snorkelling spots around Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno underwater statues and Gili Air Coral garden

🤿 Private snoreklling boat

🤿 Includes return fastboat tickets from Bali

🤿 Includes all snorkelling gear


What to Expect from the Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are made up of three small islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Each island has its own unique charm and offers different experiences for visitors. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from each one:

📖 RELATED READ: 5 Tips on How to Choose Which Gili Island is Best for You – All Gili Islands covered!

🌴 GILI TRAWANGAN: Also known as “the party island,” Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed of the three islands. It’s popular among backpackers and young travellers for its lively nightlife, bustling markets, and delicious food options. If you’re looking for a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of activities to keep you entertained, Gili Trawangan is the place to be.

🐢 GILI MENO: This island is often considered the “honeymoon island” due to its peaceful and secluded atmosphere. It’s the smallest of the three islands and is perfect for those seeking a quiet and romantic escape. You can spend your day relaxing on the white sand beaches, snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters, or strolling through the quaint village.

⛱️ GILI AIR: Located between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno, Gili Air strikes a balance between the other two islands. It has a laid-back vibe with fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation options, making it ideal for budget travellers. You can enjoy stunning sunsets, water activities such as kayaking or paddleboarding, and delicious seafood dishes.

TRAVELIST TIP: There aren’t that many Bali to Gili island day trip packages, because It’s highly recommended to stay a few nights on the Gili islands, one day tours are a bit of a rush but if you’re short on time, this is my current pick with 5-Star Reviews ➡️ Gili Island Snoreklling tour package from Bali

📖 RELATED READ: How to Plan Your Perfect Gili Islands Itinerary Whether You Have 3, 5, 7, or 10 Days

Planning Your Bali to Gili Islands Day Trip

Best Times to Visit

To make the most of your day trip, plan your visit during the dry season, from April to October. The weather is perfect for beach activities, and you’ll avoid the crowds that flock to the islands during peak season (July and August). If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting in May, June, or September.

Choosing the Right Mode of Transport

Not sure how to get to Gili islands from Bali? Well, you actually have 3 options, but not all are best suited for a Bali Gili islands day trip.

🛥️ Fast Boats: The quickest option, taking about 1.5 to 2 hours. Reliable companies include BlueWater Express, Gili Getaway, and Eka Jaya Fast Boat among others.

🚢 Slow Ferries: More economical but can take up to 5 hours. Not ideal for a day trip due to the longer travel time.

🚤 Private Charters: Ideal for larger groups or those seeking a more personalised experience. Companies like Bali Charters offer tailored services, but they come at a higher cost.

📖 RELATED READ: How to Get to Gili Islands from Bali Easily – with Pro’s and Cons & Travel Tips

The choice between a fast boat and a slow ferry/boat is more than just speed—it’s about the experience. Fast boats get you to the Gili Islands quickly – This Gili island trips is a winner, giving you more time to explore. They’re a bit pricier but worth it for the convenience and the sea breeze in your hair.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re doing a Bali to Gili islands day trip a FASTBOAT is definitely the right option to choose. Considering that it is a day trip you’ll need to minimize your trip time and maximize your island time

Booking Tickets in Advance

To avoid missing out on this Gili Islands day trip, book your tickets in advance. Spots fill up quickly, especially during peak season. I recommend checking out several providers for the best deal and experience. The reason the online bookings go so fast is because the best boats (newest, most reputable, reliable etc). tend to get booked up first.

It’s not to say that if you go to Padang Bai port on the morning of your trip you can’t find a boat, but I’d book ahead to be safe.

Departure Ports to the Gili islands

Most boats depart from the Padang Bai port, located in East Bali. Some providers also offer pickups from your hotel at an additional cost. If you’re already staying in the North or West Bali areas, consider taking a fast boat from Serangan Harbour or Amed Beach to save on travel time.

As for departure times, most departures are in the morning around 9-10 am.

TRAVELIST TIP: ‘Bali time’ is a thing so don’t expect everything to always run 100% on time, but I’d definitely still be weary about getting there too close to departure as unlike airlines, they will not wait for you regardless of whether you’ve purchased a ticket or not.

Travel Time to Padang Bai from Bali areas

In order to make sure you get to the boat on time for your Gili island day trip, you may have to wake up a bit earlier than you like, to account for the travel time from your Bali accommodation to get to Padang Bai.

Travel time from Ubud to Padang Bai: 1h30m (approx.) It’s recommend leaving Ubud at around 6:30 am to reach Padang Bai by 8:30/8 am.

Travel time from Kuta to Padang Bai: 2h30m (approx.) It’s recommend leaving Kuta at around 6:00 am to reach Padang Bai by 8:30 am.

If you’re staying in Seminyak, Canggu, or further away from Padang Bai, it’s best to leave even earlier to account for traffic.

Booking your tickets in advance also allows you to get the best boats and avoid any last-minute stress. Trust me, you don’t want to be running around trying to secure tickets on the day of your trip – it’s not fun.

Gili Islands Day trip Packing Essentials

To ensure a seamless day of adventure and relaxation, pack the following:

  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Swimwear and a towel
  • Snorkelling gear (if you prefer to use your own)
  • A change of clothes
  • Cash (places on the Gili Islands might not accept cards)
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A waterproof bag for your belongings

Safety Measures and Local Customs

While the Gili Islands are generally safe, it’s essential to be aware of a few safety tips and local customs:

  • Respect the local culture by dressing modestly when not on the beach.
  • Always wear a life jacket when on a boat when instructed to do so
  • Also, The Gili islands are generally safe, always be vigilant when walking around at night on your own or in secluded areas and be weary of your belongings.
  • Be mindful of the environment – dispose of your rubbish properly and avoid using single-use plastics.

Suggested Bali to Gili Islands Day trip Itinerary

Early Morning Departure

Catch the first boat out to maximise your time on the islands. The early morning sea is usually calmer, making for a pleasant ride too.

Arrive and Explore

Given that your time is so limited, it might be a stretch that you’ll be able to explore each Gili island in its entirety. Although each Gili Island offers its unique charm (Gili Trawangan for the party souls, Gili Meno for serenity seekers, and Gili Air for a mix of both), you’re likely going to choose just one Gili Island as your base. I’d suggest Gili Trawangan.

Gili Island Activities

Don’t miss out on snorkelling or swimming in the crystal-clear waters. The marine life here is exceptional, with turtles being a common sight. If you’re like me, you might want to try to see everything (obviously in a day – it is impossible). If you want to maximise your trip I’d suggest doing one of the following tours depending on your preferences:

➡️ Private Snorkelling tour Gili Islands Day tour – 4 hours (TOP PICK)

➡️ Shared Gili Islands Snorkelling Tour – 4.5 hours

➡️ Authentic Indonesian Cooking Class

➡️Gili T Surf lesson with Sunny Surf School

➡️ Horseback Riding on the Beach

Private Gili Islands Snorkelling Tour from Gili T

5 Star Rated | 😃 161 Reviews | ⌚ 4 Hours | BOOK IT

Bali to Gili islands day trip snorkelling tour from gili trawanagan


  • Snorkel four very different spots in the Gili Islands from a private boat
  • See Vespa scooters and a circle of human statues underwater
  • Immerse amid hundreds of colourful fish and maybe even sea turtles
  • Enjoy a relaxing lunch on tranquil Gili Meno, with bottled water too

What an awesome time on this private tour with lunch included. Our guide Juan was able to use our GoPro camera to capture incredible videos of us with turtles, tropical fish and the coral reef. The lunch restaurant on an idyllic beach in Gili Meno was truly special.


Shared Gili Islands Snorkelling Tour from Gili T

4.5 Star Rated | 😃 34 Reviews | ⌚ 4.5 Hours | BOOK IT

Gili islands snorkeling tour from gili trawangan


  • Enjoy a friendly shared snorkelling tour from Gili T or Lombok
  • Snorkelling from a glass bottom boat
  • Snorkelling at the major snorkelling spots including Gili Meno statues, Turtle Point and pretty coral gardens
  • Have lunch on tranquil Gili Air (not included)

Great snorkeling tour. Good boat driver and dive master. Beautiful snorkeling locations. Saw underwater statues, coral reefs w colorful fishes and sea turtles. The currents were strong.


Authentic Indonesian Cooking Class

🥇 Viator Badge of Excellence | ⭐ 5 Star Rated | 😃 159 Reviews | ⌚ 2 Hours | BOOK IT

Indonesian Food Indonesian cooking class gili islands Gili island cooking class gili trawangan cooking class


  • This is a relaxed and fun space to indulge in a memorable cultural experience
  • chefs will guide you through preparing, cooking, and eating several of the region’s most popular dishes like kelopon, mie goreng, fried tempe, and more
  • Vegetarian or vegan? No problem! They will replace the chicken with tofu/tempe and we have vegan oyster sauce
  • Chefs are from either Lombok mainland or the Gili islands, and are well versed in the local Sasak culture; from marriage traditions and social norms to education and local lifestyles, you’ll get an intimate picture of what it is to be Indonesian

The instructors were great, they spoke really good English and I enjoyed all the recipes! They were super informative and explained a lot about the ingredients and where/how they are grown in the local area


Gili Trawangan Surf Lesson with Sunny Surf School

🥇 Viator Badge of Excellence | ⭐ 5 Star Rated | 😃 26 Reviews | ⌚ 2 Hours | BOOK IT

Sunny surf school gili trawangan surf lesson gili island surfing


  • Ride the waves of Gili Like a Pro in this fun beginner friendly surfing lesson
  • Run by locals to teach you the basics of surfing
  • All equipment will be provided by the surf school
  • Pick up from your hotel in Gili Trawangan

Best place to surf in Gili! Would recommend this place to anyone wanting to try it!! Great teachers and so nice guys working there, we had so much fun with them and while surfing!

Tripadvisor Review

Horseriding on the Beach on the Gili Islands

5 Star Rated | 😃 12 Reviews | ⌚ 1 Hours | BOOK IT

Gili island horseriding Gili trawangan horseback ride


  • Enjoy a beautiful horseback journey on golden sand beaches
  • More experienced riders will have the chance to gallop through the waves too
  • Pick up and saddle set up right from your hotel
  • The guides will take you to the best spots for amazing photos and videos too
  • I highly recommend this for a sunset ride (but for a day trip its still a lovely relaxing experience)

Got picked up by our guide at hotel and went straight onto the horse and walked to the beach. My guide knew all the places to take photos and did a great job. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience


TRAVELIST TIP: The one-day Gili Islands Snorkeling Day tours and half-day tours are my top picks because this package is organized for you and you don’t have to worry about arranging a boat yourself and you still get to experience a bit of Gili Meno and Gili Air. It’s definitely one of my favourite things to do in Gili islands.

📖 RELATED READ: 20 Amazing Things to Do on the Gili Islands – sun, seas, turtles and more

Lunch: Savoring Local Cuisine at a Beachfront Restaurant

After a morning of adventure, it’s time to refuel. Head to one of the many beachfront restaurants on Gili Trawangan. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, traditional Indonesian dishes, or international cuisine, the island has it all. One of my personal favourites is Scallywags Beach Club – their grilled seafood platter is to die for! Enjoy your meal with your toes in the sand, soaking in the breathtaking ocean views.

OPTIONAL: Afternoon: Discovering Gili Meno or Gili Air

In the afternoon, hop on a short boat ride to either Gili Meno or Gili Air. Both islands offer a more relaxed vibe compared to Gili Trawangan.

🐢 Gili Meno: Known as the “honeymoon island,” Gili Meno is perfect for those seeking tranquillity. Spend your time lounging on the serene beaches, visiting the Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary, or exploring the underwater sculptures at the Nest Statues.

⛱️ Gili Air: A fantastic blend of Gili Trawangan’s vibrancy and Gili Meno’s calm, Gili Air offers lovely beaches, excellent snorkelling spots, and charming cafes. Take a stroll through the island’s quaint village and chat with the friendly locals.

TRAVELIST TIP: I honestly do feel like it might be a stretch to try to visit another island in your Gili island day trip from Bali in a day and still be back for the last 15:30 boat back to Bali. So I would choose 1 Gili island and just stick to that and do a snorkelling tour from Gili Trawangan that covers visiting the snorkelling spots of Gili Meno and Gili Air

Late Afternoon: Returning to Bali, Reflecting on the Day’s Experiences

As the day winds down, it’s time to head back to Bali. Catch an afternoon fast boat back to Padang Bai, reminiscing about the day’s adventures as you sail across the glistening waters.

Bali to Gili Islands Day Trip FAQ

In conclusion, the Gili Islands offer a plethora of activities for every type of traveller. From snorkelling with sea turtles to enjoying beachfront horse rides or an epic surf lesson, there is something for everyone on these stunning islands. Whether you are looking for relaxation or adventure, the Gilis have it all. So why wait? Book your experiences now and start planning your next unforgettable trip to the Gili Islands.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the article have affiliate links, what this means is, if you click a link and make a purchase I may earn some money to buy a coffee (whoohoo!). Thanks for the support, I’d love to keep making this content freely available to all. As always opinions and thoughts remain my own.

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