Despite most people never leaving the comforts of Bali, Lombok & the Gili Islands are just a short ferry ride away.

The most popular destination is the Gili Islands. They can be accessed by fast boats from numerous locations such as Sanur (650,000 IDR), Nusa Lembongan (600,000 IDR), Padang Bai (650,000 IDR) and Amed (550,000 IDR).

The longest door-to-door transit time will be 4 hours by speed boat, but budget conscious travelers can experience more of Indonesia and save a bunch of money in the process by taking public transportation.

The downside is the trip takes the better part of two days.

Sanur Boat Departure

Sanur Speed Boat Departure

How to get from Sanur to Gili Air

Let’s explore the costs and sights along the way from Sanur to Gili Air so you can make an informed decision

If you are returning from Nusa Lembongan, Perama has a 10:30am bus (75,000 IDR) that runs from Sanur to Padang Bai and allows enough time for breakfast after the ferry. Otherwise, you can attempt your luck with bemos that are both time consuming and frustrating.

My general rule for shorter Bali trips is that Perama charges twice what it may cost if you get local bemo prices.

Sanur Beach

Sanur Beach

Here is what you could expect if you tried to go from Sanur to Padang Bai by bemo. The first bemo would take you to Kereneng Terminal (10,000 IDR) in Denpasar. You would then have to transfer to Batubulan Terminal (10,000 IDR).

From there you can expect to pay 20,000 IDR to get to the Padang Bai Junction. It is either a 4 km walk, or another 10,000 IDR to Padang Bai proper. All this is assuming there are other passengers and you refuse to partake in the drivers’ extortion tactics.

A short bus ride can quickly turn into an all-day affair with little savings. We know all to well:

Bemo Transport Indonesia

Inside a bemo, without the usual passengers crammed-in

Once in Padang Bai you can grab lunch before heading to Blue Lagoon to enjoy the beach and snorkeling assuming you have a friend watching your bags while swimming.

The safest way to reach the coral is along the left side where there is a canal that leads you out. Around sunset, head back to the main strip and grab dinner and drinks.

Padang Bai Harbor

Padang Bai Harbor

The ferry across to Lembar Harbor takes 4-5 hours (44,000 IDR) and runs 24 hours a day. If you take the midnight ferry you will arrive around sunrise, and save a night’s accommodation costs. Upon first arrival in Lombok you will notice a drastic difference. Say goodbye to Hindu and hello to Muslim culture.

Assuming you timed the ferry correctly you should start hearing the morning call to prayer. Bemos to Mataram (15,000 IDR) load on the main road outside the harbor. While waiting, you may see several horse carts that are not found on Bali.

From the Mataram bus station the bus to Pemenang costs 25,000 IDR. It is then a short 1 km walk to Bangsal Harbor, or you can ride the horse cart for no more than 10,000 IDR if you have always wanted to:

Bangsal Harbor Lombok Gili Island

Waiting horse carts at Bangsal Harbor

Bangsal Harbor

Bangsal Harbor

After crossing into the ferry terminal, tickets to Gili Trawangan can be purchased in the building to the left and Gili Air tickets (19,500 IDR) are bought from a stand to the far right.

The most important thing is to arrive as early as possible as they require 30 passengers to depart and your odds get slimmer each hour that passes:

Slow Boat Tickets Bangsal Harbor Gili Islands

Slow boat ticket booth on the left, waiting passengers on the right

Bakso Bangsal Harbor Gili Islands Lombok

Order a Bakso for 10,000 IDR while you wait

Slow Boat Gili Islands Lombok

Public slow boat to/from Gili Air

Gili Air Goat on a Boat

Something tells me these goats are not coming back

Only the most frugal or seasoned backpackers take this route. The main requirement is that you see the journey as half the fun in order to enjoy the experience.

Here is a recap of the costs per person to travel from Sanur to Gili Air, so you can make an easy comparison:

  • Speedboat: 650,000 IDR
  • Public transport: 178,500 IDR
Harbor Gili Air Island Lombok

You made it! Paradise awaits…

Multiply the savings by everyone in your party, and plan a special treat on Gili!

For more information on what to see & do in the Gili’s, check out our posts:

*** The Final Word: Save money & take the slow ferry *** 

How did you get to the Gili Islands?

3 Shovels

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public transport

Visited in October 2015