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Best Snorkeling Spots in Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan & Gili Air

Gili and snorkeling have become synonymous with each other. Boasting white-sand beaches and surrounded by crystal-clear water that houses a wide range of marine life forms, Gili Islands are one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Indonesia, especially for people who enjoy snorkeling and underwater adventures.  

Located near Lombok Island, the Gilis consists of three small islands—Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan, and Gili Air, each as splendid as the next. But if they’re all wonderful, which one must you explore?

Equally beautiful as they are, the three tiny islands are unique in their own way. Other than offering a variety of snorkeling spots, they also possess distinctive characteristics that may fit different types of snorkelers. Here, we take a look into Gili’s snorkeling spots to help you decide the best one for you.

Gili Meno: Most Insta-Worthy Snorkeling Spots

Flanked by the other two Gili islands, Gili Meno is relatively quiet, making it ideal for families or couples. It is also a favorite among snorkeling enthusiasts for its picture-perfect locations.

The best four snorkeling spots in Gili Meno include:

Bounty Wreck

Despite its name, there’s no shipwreck here. The wreck in question is a platform from what used to be a floating pier, which sank during a storm in 2001. The wreck is now completely covered in hard corals, turning it into an artificial reef and home for several types of fish species, such as angler fish, ghost pipefish, scorpion fish, and many more. Although the bottom is approximately 18 meters below the surface, the shallowest part lies at nine meters, making it an ideal snorkeling site.

Meno Slope

With a sandy sloping wall that extends until 16 meters under the surface, Meno Slope is often recommended for new snorkelers. Coral bommies of many sizes can be found in this part. A second wall, which runs even deeper into the ocean, is suited to the more experienced divers.

Nest Underwater Statues

A famous spot, Nest is an underwater art installation commissioned by the nearby BASK island resort. Depicting 48 life-size human statues in a circular formation, Nest is created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor to symbolize the circle of life. More than an artwork, it’s a gift to the local community and nature. Made out of environmentally friendly materials, Nest also functions as a man-made reef that encourages the growth of marine life. 

Just like the corals and fishes, tourists are also drawn to this particular spot, and it’s easy to see why. The beautiful statues are a much-loved subject of underwater photography, making Nest a frequently crowded place.

Turtle Heaven

In general, the three Gili Islands are the natural habitat of turtles. In Gili Meno, snorkelers can encounter them in Marlin Hill, also known as Turtle Heaven. 

Located on the northeast side of Gili Meno, Turtle Heaven is characterized by a steep coral slope that features a large coral mound, where Green Sea Turtles can be found in abundance. The area is also home to Hawksbill Sea Turtles. 

Snorkeling with turtles in Gili Meno is a one-of-a-kind experience. As the turtles are already used to humans, they are very approachable, and taking pictures with them is relatively easy. Even so, every snorkeler must remember not to touch them and maintain a respectful distance to keep them comfortable.

Gili Trawangan: Most Popular Snorkeling Destination

The largest of the three Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is completed with numerous tourist facilities. Historically known as the “Party Island”but now known as the “For Everyone Island”, Gili Trawangan or Gili T may be famed for its nightlife but it doesn’t mean it lacks amazing snorkeling locations.

The best two snorkeling spots in Gili Trawangan include:

Trawangan Slope

In Gili Trawangan, you can go snorkeling straight from the beach at a location called Trawangan Slope. The corals that grow along the artificial reefs provide an excellent underwater view for snorkelers. The spot is also a haven for a lot of turtles and diverse types of fish, including stingrays, which usually pop up during the right season.

Turtle Point

Due to the popularity of this spot, many try to imitate it, and there are signs bearing the name “Turtle Point” in various locations along the road. However, the real Turtle Point of Gili Trawangan is situated on the northeast point of the island and can be accessed by swimming from the shore.

As the name suggests, Turtle Point is a place to check out turtles while snorkeling. The turtles would visit the location to feed on the sea grass that grows there. 

This is a great place to go at your own speed and explore, and particularly good for children or those new snorkeling given the shallow waters up to 25 meters from the shore before the deeper waters begin.

Gili Air: Most Relaxing Location for Snorkelling

Like Gili Meno, Gili Air is on the quieter side compared to Gili Trawangan. At the same time, it is said to be livelier than Gili Meno. Meanwhile, in contrast with Gili T, Gili Air has a reputation for being “chill” or peaceful. Gili Air is where tourists can relax and spend some time doing yoga, going to spas, or enjoying a traditional massage.

After relaxing, it’s time to go snorkeling! The best three snorkeling spots in Gili Air include:

Hans Reef

Housing a variety of nocturnal sea creatures, Hans Reef is a popular spot for night divers. Still, it is also a remarkable location during the day. Moreover, it’s a great place for underwater explorers of varying levels, from beginner to advanced.

Frogfish Point

Snorkeling at the Frogfish Point could give you a chance to encounter special and rare marine life forms. It is characterized by beautiful corals and sandy areas. Some of the fishes that call Frogfish Point home are scorpion fish, ghost pipefish, garden eels, and of course, frogfish.

Nemo City

With a seagrass-covered gentle sandy slope, Nemo City is perfect for everyone, whether you’re a beginner snorkeler or an experienced one. A dive into this spot will allow you the sight of uncommon fishes.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden is nestled in the channel between Gili Air and Gili Meno. Here, the corals that grow on the artificial reefs have attracted several types of sea animals, including the Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles. It’s a perfect site to take underwater photographs or merely admire the wonders of marine life.

Gili’s snorkeling spots are abundant in quality and quantity, and the list you see above may not cover all of them. But hopefully, it will help you discover which Gili Island is best for snorkeling. What’s important is not finding the perfect one but finding the perfect one for you. Each Gili Island comes with its own personality, and your choice depends on what kind of snorkeling experience you want.

Also important is to remember your limit, as some spots may require a high snorkeling experience. Always be prepared and bring your equipment. If needed, flippers, masks, and snorkels are available to rent at the shops on the main roads or warung (traditional kiosks) on the beach, starting from 50,000 IDR/hour. To ensure safety, you might want to take organized snorkeling cruises, especially the ones offering professional snorkeling guidance. There are many operators offering group tours in shared boats, but if you’re looking for a more comfortable option, private tours are a must.

For an opportunity to mix snorkeling, sightseeing and adventure we recommend our five-hour cruise. In addition to a great day out with free-flow drinks and a gourmet buffet on a comfortable boat, our experienced snorkel guides will take you to snorkel at Nest Underwater Statues, Turtle Point and Secret Garden and capture these moments on a GoPro for you to keep forever.  Premium snorkeling gear is also provided.

Happy Snorkeling!

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