12 Awesome Dive Sites in the Gili Islands, Indonesia
For such a tiny group of islands, the Gilis (Trawangan, Meno & Air) host a diverse range of dive sites ready for beginner divers for their first epic experience, all the way to those veteran divers that are looking for some extra WOW factor.
Best of all?
They are all SO easy to reach – almost all sites are within a 15-minute boat ride so you can go back to the dive shop for a coffee and cake break between each dive.
|Dive Site||Best For||Diver Level||Highlights|
|Shark Point||Shark & Turtle spotting||All Levels||Glenn Nusa Wreck|
|Halik Reef||Corals & Drift Diving. Freediving||All Levels||Deep ridges & colourful shallow wall|
|Sunset||Flat Topography and big schools of fish||All Levels||Corals & sharks at depth|
|Deep Turbo||Deep diving pinnacles||Advanced only||Blacktip reef sharks & turtles|
|Simon’s Reef||Deep Diving pinnacles||Advanced only||Macro & drift diving|
|Turtle Heaven||Turtles guaranteed||All Levels||Turtles!|
|Biorocks||Macro & night diving||All Levels||Coral Restoration park|
|Meno Slope & Wall||Drift wall diving||All Levels||Flying across a wall|
|Bounty Wreck||Wreck diving||All Levels||Navigating the wreck|
|Hidden Reef/Mirkos Reef||Coral filled ridges||All Levels||Massive table corals|
|Haan Reef||Sandy training site||All Levels||Macro wildlife|
|Seahorse Bay||Seahorses||Advanced levels||Macro & photography|
1. Shark Point
Shark Point is probably the most famous and requested dive site of Gili Matra (Trawangan, Meno & Air), and for great reasons!
If you head into the depths (22 meters) you’ll catch a glimpse of the Glenn Nusa wreck.
Sunk in 2016 as an eco-project from the GIDA dive shops and Gili Eco Trust, it’s settled at 26 meters and rapidly been overgrown in sponges, sea fans and corals. Guarded by a big school of snappers, there are a few swim-throughs if you are daring enough.
Enquire about your WRECK SPECIALITY to learn more about this!
Jimmy, dive instructor and water sports fanatic told us that his favourite site to dive in the morning is Shark point. Catching a good drop straight on the Glenn Nusa Wreck to wait for a glimpse of the circling sharks. We don’t disagree!
Deep Shark Point ranges from 20 – 40 meters and is a series of impressive ridges and valleys where you’ll be lucky to spot some of the resident black and white tip reef sharks.
Along with the sharks, a highlight is spotting the massive school of trevally creating a tornado when the currents are in your favour.
Shallow shark point is somewhat of a haven for turtles. Grazing amongst the soft corals is one of the most popular hangouts for Gillis green turtles and a great photo opportunity with this reptilian dive buddy.
Whilst the drifts and currents of Shark Point are what attract the megafauna, it can sometimes create quite undesirable conditions, especially for beginner divers. Dive shops will assess the situation and can easily change to a more sheltered dive spot at the last minute.
2. Halik (deep and shallow)
Ready to see all the coral colours of the rainbow?
Another beautiful and scenic dive site is Halik, with more prominent ridges than Shark Point and a more colourful, diverse hard coral cover.
With less chance of spotting sharks, Halik makes up for it with an incredible drift dive through delicate whip corals in the depths (22- 35+meters) followed by a beautiful wall and slope (8-18meters).
The massive coral bommies are worth checking ‘behind’ each for sheltering pipefish, lionfish and cool nocturnal critters.
Shallow Halik is a gorgeous reef shelf with some of Gilis’ healthiest coral cover. Huge schools of rabbitfish swarm over thousands of damsels that dance in and out of the coral colonies as you swim over. Here’s another great spot to see a lazy turtle that’s wedged itself on the edge of the shelf overlooking the blue. Sometimes there are baby sharks in a little caved overhang.
We spoke with underwater photographer Charlie.Submerged who claims shallow Halik Reef as her Gili favourite site. Suited for beautiful clarity, lighting for those epic shots, healthy corals and the occasional shy black tip reef shark.
3. Sunset (Manta Point)
With a gentle lazy topography of rolling hills, Sunset is a glorious drift dive in whichever way the currents may take you.
Descending down onto a field of corals in each direction, Sunset Reef is one of the most diverse reefs, perfect for the colourful coral nerd. There are some great photo opportunities of thousands of damselfish dancing in and out of the reefs as you drift over them, barely needing to fin to propel yourself forwards.
This is an excellent site for your first-ever dive! Even at 10-12 meters, you’ll swim over hundreds of meters of pristine coral reefs, with turtles sitting at the bottom of massive coral boulders and bommies.
Why do some shops call it Manta Point?
Well, this site is also in the name, it’s one of the best spots on the Gilis to spot a MANTA! Though sightings are quite rare, at certain times of the year there is a chance to see a manta loafing around the famous cleaning stations at Sunset Point.
Whilst no wildlife underwater can be guaranteed, this is surely worth risking a cheeky fun dive (or two) for!
When we met with Putri, Dive Guide in Gili Divers she mentioned an epic dive experience she had at Sunset, whilst following a team of Open Water Divers on her 9th ever dive, she spotted a whale shark above her head! Is it time for a dive site nickname change?!
Batty for batfish
Another highlight at these cleaning stations is the elegant batfish. They school around the bommies putting on quite the display. You’ll also find them following around the green sea turtles that love Sunset point. Whilst they share the same diet as a turtle, they don’t compete for it, they’d just hang around until it’s turtle toilet time and then just take their fill on poop.
Now, there’s a fun fact you wish you didn’t know!
4. Deep Turbo
This spectacular dive site isn’t a barrier reef like many of Gilis sites, but a series of coral [hills/mountains/pinnacles] jutting up from 30 meters to a top of 18 meters.
Now Deep Turbo isn’t for the fainthearted. If you’ve wanted that sky-diving feeling without the thought of throwing yourself out of a plane then the descent into the blue down to 25meters will take your breath away.
Once you get to the bottom at 25-30meters, there is a good chance to spot sharks in the valleys between the giant pinnacles. Be sure to look around frequently whilst you slowly meander your way up the sides of the pinnacles, ready to bunny hop over to the next one.
As the name suggests, sometimes the current can be quite turbulent!
Another great spot for a drift dive, but don’t panic, the instructors and guides know multiple routes through these fascinating mountains to ensure that almost every dive to Deep Turbo is different.
This site is best-dived in the morning. Not only does it mean your decompression time is at its finest but the reefs are alive with schooling fusiliers, snappers and batfish.
Fabien, owner of Gili T’s fitness centre GiliFit (and long-term dive bum) claims Deep Turbo as Gili’s best dive site! Being the first group dropping straight down to 30 (meters) and waiting for the sharks to swim by.
It’s also a great dive site at all times of the day when you’re diving on NITROX. Probably the best site for your NITROX speciality to really compare bottom times with the regular air divers that have to start their ascent into the blue after around 25minutes.
Needless to say, this is a dive site only for advanced divers.
5. Simon’s Reef
Simon’s Reef is another fantastic group of sea mounts slightly further out to sea, making it a “long” 15-minute boat ride from Gili Trawangan.
Discovered by the tech-diving owner of Blue Marlin, Simon Liddiard, this is a dive site for spectacular topography. You can happily stare down into the abyss at 30 meters depth, then look up to see schooling fusiliers in the shallows.
The shallowest mount here is at 14 meters, so another alluring location for NITROX divers.
Imam, Dive Instructor and local legend at Trawangan Dive told us Simon’s was one of the best places for macro hunting with plenty of nudis (nudibranch – not naked divers!).
Although very similar to the Deep Turbo bottom formations and pinnacles, the hunt for macro wildlife at Simon’s is much more exciting.
Keep a careful eye out amongst the corals for a chance to spot:
- Pygmy seahorses on enormous gorgonian fans.
- Tiny little whip coral shrimp on the elegant coral whips.
- Hundreds of garden morays, sweeping across the sandy plains.
- A vibrant collection of nudibranchs.
And once you’ve got your head out of the sand be vigilant/look up] for:
- Schools of snapper.
- Grazing turtles.
- Columnar pillar corals that grow straight up from the depths.
- Pelagics such as blue marlins, tuna and giant trevally.
6. Turtle Heaven
The Gili Islands’ #1 dive spot for the infamous turtle populations. Here you’ll spot multiple Hawksbill and Green turtles fighting it out for a sunbathing spot on top of this mount at the northern edge of Gili Meno.
For turtles, this haven is no longer a secret!
So many resident turtles frequent the area, so it’s the best chance to get up and close to these fascinating endangered animals.
Although they appear very tame, remember to never touch, stroke or grab a turtle. Even for the perfect picture, they can pack a good bite if they need to! The best approach is from behind, so they can swim away if they feel you get too close.
Lucia, a fun-diver in Trawangan Dive has a life-long obsession with turtles, we were fortunate to bump into her after her first dive to Turtle Heaven to see a very happy face upon surfacing and having her 3-minute safety stop supervised by a giant green turtle.
Turtle Heaven is best dived in the afternoon, but this is also the time when the site is the busiest.
The large sloping pinnacle is home to all the turtles resting on the summit at 10 meters. The sides of the pinnacles have impressive coral structures with thousands of dancing damselfish playing in the current.
It makes an incredible site for first-time scuba divers wanting a memorable experience.
One of Gilis most unique dive spots is the Biorock Artificial Coral Restoration park.
With a lot of boat activity to the GIlis, there has been a rapid increase in anchors being dropped on the very coral reefs that we intend to visit! The Gili Eco Trust has been implementing reef restoration projects around the Gili Islands since 2002. The Biorock dive site has been built from a totally destroyed coral slope and now looks better than ever!
The Biorocks dive site is also a fantastic place for freedivers of all levels
An underwater sculpture trail takes place from 5 meters to 21 meters as you casually drift down the southern slopes witnessing magnificent structures that have been sunk to attach broken fragments of coral onto. They are powered by electricity to boost the coral growth rate and resilience against stresses caused by climate change.
International artists and sculptors have designed creative structures, so be sure to watch out for the giant manta ray, dolphin and of course Gili’s favourite, a giant Bintang bottle, along with huge swim-through domes and tunnels. With more than 150 structures on this site, you won’t be bored swimming through them.
Oh…for a perfect Instagram opportunity, don’t forget the scooters!
We spoke with the Project Manager of the Gili Eco Trust Delphine Robbe who undoubtedly mentioned Biorocks dive site as her favourite! Her best advice…. Always bring your camera! So the photography goons out there, this is the (shallow) site for the best shots.
If you love a night dive, then this is probably the best spot after hours, with many fish hiding inside the Biorocks at night, whilst morays and lionfish hunt their prey.
For those macro buffs then be on the look for stargazers, stonefish, pipefish, squid and octopus that frequent the area day and night.
8. Meno Slope & Wall
Get to grips with Gilis currents along this beautiful wall with no fin kicking needed.
Whilst you can cover Meno Slope and Meno Wall in one dive, many argue that it is in fact two dive sites.
So close, yet strikingly different in topography, layout and things to see. Keep your eyes peeled as you drift past the wall that starts at 8 meters and sinks gently down to 21 metres.
This makes it perfect for beginner divers (with a little buoyancy control) to advanced photographers and macro lovers.
Be sure to peek in all the cracks and crevices in the wall for eels, soldier fish and invertebrates such as porcelain crabs, nudibranchs and beautiful blue lobster.
When the wall has finished evolving into a slope, the current drops right back too. Here you’ll spend the second half of the dive swimming around giant bommies of glass fish, spying on camouflage bottom dwellers and swimming back up the slope to your safety stop.
Another site for a night dive, taking a torch on the walls and spotting the active fish chasing or being chased, and my favourite part of the night dive, there is commonly bioluminescence in the shallows! Time to waft your dive buddy’s hair to make it glow as bright as Gili’s full moon party!
9. Bounty Reef
Bounty wreck, off the coast of Gili Meno, has been accumulating corals, wildlife and divers alike for more than 15 years.
Although it IS technically a wreck, it wasn’t a boat or ship. It was an old jetty used by the Bounty Cruise Liner that used to dock on Gili Meno.
When it was decommissioned, the jetty got pushed into the sea and now is a fantastic spot for hard coral cover, vast gardens of soft corals and a great hidey hole for the immense school of midnight snapper that dominate the wreck.
If you’re interested in navigation and mapping then Bounty is a perfect spot to pull out your slate, sketching points of interest in relation to the wreck.
Many Advanced Open Water Divers will do one of their adventure dives here.
The wreck sits from 8 meters to 15 meters on the bottom, giving an extended bottom time for swimming all the way around. Be sure to scale the sandy bottom next to the wreck towards the glass fish bommie, where these little fish swim in unison, flowing over the rock like water ripples.
Whilst the currents are milder on the Bounty than some sites, if you swim a little deeper, and find a rock to hang on, watch life swim past in the channel and keep an eye for eagle rays.
10. Hidden Reef
Hidden Reef (also known as Mirko’s Reef) is a secret site ‘hidden’ between Gili Air and Meno. Here is where you’ll find the BIGGEST table corals of the Gilis.
Hidden Reef took a beating in 2016 with a global coral bleaching event wiping out some of Gilis’ oldest, most established corals. However, with the misfortune that the world faced in 2020, two years of no diving has returned Hidden Reef to its former glory.
This series of ridges start at 10 meters, so with an experienced guide, you’ll drop perfectly into the blue and then follow the steep ridges down to 25 meters where elegant whip corals and gorgonian sea fans cling to the sides and layers upon layers of tables stand proudly.
Eventually, the whole site sinks to 40 meters ++ so due to being limited by deco time, make this your morning dive or better still, jump on NITROX for it!
11. Haan’s Reef
Haan’s reef is Gili’s only (popular) prominently sandy reef, making it a great training site for new divers.
Along with being a great training site, it’s a good chance to spot the shy camouflage sandy wildlife such as blue-spotted stingray, cowfish, boxfish and beautiful nudibranchs.
Laying off the coast of Gili Air, there is one big pinnacle at 10 meters where there is usually a good chance to spot a sleepy turtle resting on top and a wealth of scorpionfish taking up hiding on the coral stack.
Laura Kazi, Trawangan Dive’s IDC instructor loves the sandy training site at Hans Reef, perfect for conducting the career-changing Instructor course training she loves to teach, knowing there are rays, cowfish and shrimp frequenting the training area!
From here you can go one of two ways!
Towards the north are smaller pinnacles and mysterious coral islands each with their mini habitats of critters, finishing at around 25 meters. Towards the south and Gili Air are a wonderful slope of bommies and island oasis each worth a good 10 minutes or more of exploration.
Watch out for pipefish, lobster and many cleaner shrimp on the coral stacks and bommies of Haans Reef.
12. Seahorse Bay
Although Seahorse Bay is off the coast of Lombok, not Gilis, it is a ‘must-visit’ site to check out the resident seahorses!
Assuming Gilis famous currents are no match for the ill-equipped seahorse’s motions this sheltered sandy bay is only a 20minute boat ride from Gili Trawangan and hosts a wealth of macro prospects for the most avid of divers.
On the checklist are stargazers, pipefish, octopus, seahorses, leaf scorpion fish and stonefish.
Unfortunately, it’s not just a muck dive due to the silty sediment on the bottom, there is also a lot of trash lying around. There are lots of plastic wrappers and bottles that the wildlife just takes advantage of in new and unusual hiding homes.
If you are around for one of the Gili Eco Trust’s Dive Against Debris – then this is the site that needs constant cleaning!
Due to the soft silty sediment, divers here should be of an advanced level or with particularly good buoyancy to not stir up the sand.
Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!
Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.
Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:
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Even this exhaustive list of dive sites doesn’t completely makeup all the underwater locations of the Gilis! Now that the technical diving movement is on the rise, some of Indonesia’s most established tech instructors have been discovering more and more tech (deeper than 45meters) dive sites that are worth mentioning too.
But that’s for another little surface interval read!
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