Complete Lombok snorkeling guide 2020 – Explore the Gilis

With so many wonderful islands and beaches, a Lombok snorkeling trip offers you endless opportunities to enjoy stunning scenery not only underwater but on land too. No matter you wish to stay on the popular North Gili Islands, or prefer to visit the less discovered areas like Sekotong Peninsula in South Lombok or the East Secret Gilis, this complete guide will provide you with all the information you need to know when snorkeling in Lombok!

The best Lombok snorkeling places

Lombok, this less discovered yet stunningly beautiful Indonesian island won’t disappoint you if you are looking for a peaceful destination for a snorkeling holiday. The main island doesn’t offer good off-beach snorkeling because the coastline is either rocky with high waves or surrounded with mangroves/seaweed colonies. But Lombok has altogether 26 islands ‘Gilis’ (gili means island in Sasak language) that feature excellent coral reefs and rich marine life.

Hidden beach in Lombok
Lombok has a wonderful coastline and surrounded by picturesque islands

Best places for snorkeling in Lombok:

  • North Gili Islands: Trawangan, Meno, and Air
  • South Gili Islands in Sekotong
  • East Gili Islands

The popular North Gili Islands are easy to reach and offer a wide variety of accommodation, shops, and restaurants. Those who are ready to walk the extra mile to explore the Secret Gilis and enjoy some of the best Lombok snorkeling places will find amazing scenery on the southwest and also on the east coast.

Tip: check out our Bali snorkeling guide too!

North Gili Islands

If it comes to snorkeling in Lombok, the North Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air come to the mind first. Out of the 26 Lombok islands, these are the best known and many think wrongly that they belong to Bali.

Gili Trawangan main beach
Gili Trawangan – the most popular of the North Gilis

These 3 islands might seem alike at first sight, but in fact, are completely different. Trawangan became famous for parties, Meno for underwater sculptures called ‘The Nest’, while Air remains a perfect combination of relaxed beaches and moderate nightlife.

Gili Meno underwater statues
The famous Gili Meno underwater statues, the Nest – a great spot to snorkel!

What is their common feature then? They all have good snorkeling places! You will find here vibrant coral gardens as well as many turtles! Read our Gili Islands snorkeling guide for detailed information about the best snorkel spots in Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air!

Note: In 2018 August an earthquake hit North Lombok and the islands suffered damages, but now all the facilities are re-opened and ready to welcome visitors.

The South Gilis – Sekotong Lombok

The less discovered Southwest Lombok awaits tourists with mesmerizing landscape and picture-perfect islands! Far from the earthquake zone, the Sekotong Islands offer excellent conditions for a relaxing Lombok snorkeling holiday!

Gili Layar – The South ‘Secret’ Gilis are less popular, therefore better for relaxation

The Southwest Gilis include 12 bigger and smaller islands:

  • Gede
  • Asahan
  • Layar
  • Rengit
  • Goleng
  • Nanggu
  • Tangkong
  • Sudak
  • Kedis
  • Genting
  • Lontar
  • Poh

The biggest island is Gili Gede with a wide variety of hotels and homestays on it and even has direct speedboat connection with Bali (Gili Getaway). Most of the smaller ones are uninhabited, but some like Gili Asahan, Gili Layar, Gili Nanggu or Gili Sudak offer accommodation too. Should you stay on the mainland, there are some pretty hotels in Tawun (we stayed a few days in the Silver Fern Beach Resort and loved it).

Gili Asahan - Gili Goleng
Gili Asahan and Gili Goleng with mainland Lombok in the background

From here, you can do snorkeling with South Lombok island hopping tours, but we highly recommend to spend a few days on any island that has accommodation if you wish to enjoy a quiet getaway with excellent snorkeling at your doorstep. The best snorkeling you find around Gili Asahan, Gili Layar, Gili Goleng, Gili Rengit, and Gili Nanggu, but all the others worth a visit if you are around!

Tip: Read our Pearl Beach Resort Gili Asahan snorkeling trip review too.

East Lombok snorkeling

Like the Southwest region, East Lombok also still enjoys uncrowded beaches, beautiful nature to explore as well as some of less known Lombok snorkeling islands. There is not much tourism on the east side. Don’t expect fancy hotels or restaurants. This region is visited mainly by locals on weekends and holidays, therefore the corals here are still in good condition.

The northeast uninhabited islands, Gili Lawang and Gili Sulak with the surrounding waters build a marine conservation area. The mangrove forests, coral reefs, and seagrass fields host a wide variety of marine life. On the islands, you can observe bird species and monkeys too!

Lombok snorkeling
Gili Lawang Reef

From Pondok Gili Lamp, there are daily snorkel trips available to Gili Kondo, Bidara and Lampu ( also known as Petaran). Visiting these three islands is an easy yet enjoyable Lombok snorkeling tour that gives you the opportunity to observe colorful corals and playful fish.

Snorkeling Gili Kondo
Gili Kondo, Bidara and Lampu snorkel trip

To get to the east coast of Lombok, the best option is to hire a driver for the most comfortable experience. You might do it by scooter too, but it is a long drive and not all roads are in good condition. The journey takes about 2-3 hours from Mataram or Kuta Lombok.

Best time for snorkeling in Lombok

Lombok enjoys a tropical climate with 30 C (88 F) maximums and 22-24 C (72-75 F) minimums all year round. The rainy season from November to March brings showers and high humidity. From June to September there is the dry season with little rain and less humid air. The sea temperature is always between 27-29 C (81-84 F).

Beach in Lombok
Typical summer weather in South Lombok – sunshine and calm sea with some clouds over the mountainous area of the island

Of course, the mountain areas enjoy colder temperatures and more rainy days, but if you plan to spend your Lombok snorkeling holiday on an island no matter in the north, south or east, most likely you will experience wall-to-wall sunshine while watching passing storms on the horizon only.

In summary, there is no bad time to visit Lombok, but if beach activities are your priority, we recommend scheduling your Lombok snorkeling holiday before or after high season. The months of May, June, September, and October offer good weather combined with low prices.

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South Lombok coastline

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

2 thoughts on “Complete Lombok snorkeling guide 2020 – Explore the Gilis

  • 2020-01-16 at 00:37
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    Hi Anett,
    thank you for your article about Lombok. I am going to Bali and Lombok this summer, 4 weeks with my lady and our 2 children ( 17 and 8y.o). We’re diving and snorkeling (the little one and me). We’ve been in Malaysia, Thaïland and Mexico for snorkeling and diving, wonderful!!!
    Which spots do you suggest and for how many days in Bali and Lombok?
    Have a nice week,
    Sami, Switzerland

    Reply
    • 2020-01-16 at 13:23
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      Hi Sami,
      Thanks for your kind comment. It is a great idea to split the 4 weeks between Bali and Lombok. There is more things to do and see in Bali (temples, waterfalls, shops but also more tourists) while Lombok is more chilled, so it depends on your personality where you should stay longer. If I were you, I would do a round-trip: few days in Bali somewhere close to the airport (Jimbaran, Canggu, Sanur etc) then moving to Amed (good off-beach snorkeling, also possible to do diving, nice shipwreck in Tulamben). You can easily stay a week here because there is a lot to see (volcano, water palace, waterfalls trips are easy to do from here). From Amed you can take a speedboat to the Gili Islands (Meno, Air or Trawangan). You can stay on one island and visit the others with a longtail boat, or if you want you can stay a few days on each, they are all nice and have good snorkeling, but Trawangan and Meno are the best. From here you can go to Lombok mainland, I would suggest staying somewhere in the south because it is less touristy. We stayed in the Sekotong area, did some day trips to visit some islands (Kedis, Sudak, Nanggu) and rented a bike to go around in the south (amazing coastline and nice beaches). Before going back to Bali, I recommend spending a few days in Gili Asahan (very relaxed island, good snorkeling in front of Pearl Beach Resort). From here, you can take a speedboat (actually from Gili Gede) back to Bali to spend the last few days of your holiday there enjoying the vibe. Of course, this round-trip works the other way around too, whatever is more convenient for you 🙂
      Hope this helps 🙂
      BR, Anett

      Reply

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