A Diver’s Guide: Diving Gili Trawangan
On 22/07/2019 by Lia Diffin
A Diver’s Guide: Diving Gili Trawangan
If you’re planning a diving trip to Gili Trawangan then you’ve come to the right place. This dive guide is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know before your visit. How much do dives run? What’s the visibility like? What time of year is best? All these questions and more will be answered for you below. So sit back and take a read. But be warned - we’ll have you daydreaming of turtles, triggerfish and tides by the end of this article.
Costs on Gili Trawangan
Here on Gili Trawangan, we've made things pretty easy for you when it comes to pricing. That's because all of the major dive centres on the island are part of the Gili Indah Dive Alliance (GIDA). This group, led by the local elders, ensures a fixed price agreement between all member shops. So whichever company you choose, the price for the dive course will be the same. So no more haggling, no more visiting shop after shop searching for the best price. Instead you can focus on what really matters - finding the best shop for your needs.
Divers should be aware that you will see a reef-tax on your bill at all GIDA member shops. This is a one-time fee charged to every diver or snorkeller and goes to local non-profit Gili Eco Trust. The fee is used to help pay for beach cleaning, reef conservation and recycling to offset our human fin print.
Conditions on Gili T
Currents in the Gili Islands are fickle beasts. Unpredictable even on the best of days, the currents can range from non-existent to a strong push. As a result, most dives are treated as drift dives in the Gilis. This means your boat will pick you up wherever you surface. How is that for service!
Along with the water temperature, visibility is one of the big draws for divers to the Gili Islands. Our crystal clear blue waters have some of the best and most consistent visibility in the region. During the dry season, this averages between 25-30 metres, but can reach up to a whopping 35 metres. During the rainy season, this number will usually average between 10-25 metres. This can depend on the day and the dive site, though, and is largely based on the currents. Increased plankton concentrations during this time can also decrease visibility.
The increased plankton during the wet season can lure in the big pelagics - whale sharks, mantas and even mola mola! So you really can’t go wrong in either season.
Water temperature is not something you need to worry about in the Gilis. With average temperatures of 28-29 degrees Celsius (82-84F), you’re swimming in bathwater year-round. These averages will fluctuate with the seasons, but these are minute changes of a degree or two at most. For those that want the warmest waters, visit in the dry season between May and August. The coolest months are December to March during the rainy season.
Marine Life in the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are one of Indonesia’s top diving destinations. Boasting the largest biodiversity on the planet, it is a hotspot for divers from across the globe. The immense variety of life found here is due directly to the islands' geographic locations. They are located right smack in the middle of the Indonesian Throughflow. This warm water current carries large amounts of nutrients through the region creating the perfect smorgasbord for marine life. And nothing brings people, or animals, together like food.
The amazing biodiversity makes diving the Gilis a truly exciting experience. Not to mention the best place to snap a turtle selfie! Did you know the Gilis are known as the ‘Turtle Capital of the World’? You would be hard-pressed not to cruise past one of these local beauties on your trip.
Some examples of the marine life you may encounter are:
Definitely see: clownfish, angelfish, turtles, sweetlips, grouper, anemones. Morays, stingrays, cuttlefish, octopus are also frequent sightings.
Might see: frogfish, black and white tip reef sharks, ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses are also occasionally spotted.
Could see, but need to be lucky: mola, whale and manta rays.
It is not only the fish that attract thousands of divers every year. The Gilis have some amazing soft and hard corals, as well as various coral rejuvenation projects. BASK Nest and BioRocks are the two most well known projects, and offer incredible underwater photo opportunities.
There are over 30 epic dive sites situated around the Gili Islands and Lombok. Most of which are located within a 15-20 minute boat journey and are suited to all diving ability levels. Some of the top Gili dive spots of visitors and locals alike are:
This is probably the best known dive site on the Gili Islands. It is also the premier dive spot for viewing larger marine life in the area. It’s popularity is a result of the insane variety of marine life seen here on a single dive.
Located on the north side of Gili Trawangan, the dive site has a flat sandy bottom which turns into a series of progressively deeper canyons. Divers will often find reef sharks basking in the canyons, and cuttlefish, stingrays, and turtles in the shallows. If that isn't impressive enough, the spot is also a huge hangout for a school of huge bumphead parrot fish.
Located off the east side of Gili Trawangan, this site is a firm favourite for Manta divers. Here you’ll find a sandy bottom at 30m, which rises up into numerous large sea mounts throughout the site. These mounts range in size, and offer up a stunning coral garden with overhangs and outcrops. Divers will find thousands of garden eels covering the sandy bottom of this site, along with barracuda, leopard sharks and giant rays. If you’re looking for a deep dive with epic topography and some of the best corals in the area - this is the one for you.
This is another great deep dive, just north of Gili Meno. It offers divers a series of seamounts and a variety of overhangs, outcrops and sand bar formations. A mix of hard and soft corals can also be found here, along with large barrel sponges and gorgonian fans. The latter are home to a Manta favourite - the pygmy seahorse. If that isn’t enough to tantalise the eyes, divers can spot reef sharks, porcelain crabs, nudibranchs and the occasional eagle ray and turtle.
Manta Point (Sunset)
This dive site consists of a gently sloping reef on the south side of Gili Trawangan. It boasts amazing soft and hard corals, including both branching and table species. These are home to more fish species than we can count in one dive. As the current is minimal here, it is also an excellent spot to get up close with the larger locals. These include reef sharks, sting rays, octopus and on occasion a passing manta. The deep water upwellings from the Lombok Sea help attract a good diversity of fish and pelagics. Which means it's a great spot to cross off some bucketlist marine life.
Turtle Heaven is just a short boat cruise to the east side of Gili Meno. As the name suggests, it is a favourite hangout of our most well known Gili residents - green and hawksbill turtles. Featuring a shallow entry and a gentle slope, the site caters for all level of divers. This means divers can either choose to go deep or cruise along the slope towards a large barricle. Many fish species can be seen here, including clownfish, and large lionfish. If you’re looking to snap yourself a turtle selfie, or find nemo, then Turtle Heaven is our suggestion.
Curious about the other 20+ dive sites in the area? Then head on over to the Manta Dive website for our favourite hangouts on the Gilis.
When to Come to Gili Trawangan
You really cannot go wrong at any time of the year in the Gilis. With water and land temperatures remaining blissfully warm all year long, the biggest question is how soon can you get here.
We hope this guide helped answer any questions you may have had about diving Gili Trawangan. With crystal clear waters, tropical temperatures and some of the best biodiversity in the region, we promise you won't regret the choice.
More questions about the island? Then contact Manta Dive! As the only Diamond Rated Dive Centre andInstructor Training Centre in the region, we like to think we're sort of experts in the area. So give us a text, email or call. You're in good hands - or fins - with us!