The Fast Boat To Gili – How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands

The three Gili Islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno, are located close to the island of Lombok, Indonesia, and a boat ride away from Bali.  Although a very common add-on to a trip to Bali, it is not entirely intuitive how to travel to the Gili Islands. This post walks through my tips on how to travel from Ubud to Gili Islands, including how to take the fast boat to Gili. It will also cover the fast boat companies that pick up from other Bali towns, providing an overview of how to travel from Bali to the Gili Islands.

Fast Boat To Gili Travel Guide

How To Book The Fast Boat From Bali to Gili Islands
How To Book The Fast Boat From Bali to Gili Islands

There are two primary ways to get from Bali to the Gili Islands. There are both a public ferry and a fast boat. The traditional, more public style ferry from Bali to Gili, is slow, makes tons of stops, and can take up to five hours or more. It’s cheap, costing only around $5, but it is definitely the local way to go. The fast boat to Gili is a better option and I will provide tips and advice on how to take the fast boat below. There are two main companies that provide fast boat services: Eka Jaya and Marina Srikandi. We booked with Eka Jaya but managed to travel on both services. 

You can also fly from Denpasar to Lombok, and then transfer to Gili. This is more expensive and can be a pain. You still need to book a transfer to the Denpasar Airport, wait for a flight, and then fly to Lombok. Once in Lombok, you will need to book a ferry to the Gili Islands anyway. It is sort of a pain and doesn’t really save much time. 

*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.

How To Travel From Bali to Gili Islands

Fast boats to Gili are advertised at every tourist town in Bali, with tour operators selling tickets for different companies, each of which promises the “fastest boat” from “Bali to Gili.” It is hard to weigh your options on how to get from Ubud to Gili unless you know someone who recently traveled there and can share either a great or a bad story. These fast boat companies provide pick up from hotels across the island, including Ubud, Sanur, Seminyak, etc. 

When purchasing tickets from a travel company in Bali, prices can range from $50-$100 or more round trip for one person. Each travel company adds on their own commission cost on top of what is charged by the fast boat company. It’s definitely okay to negotiate your fare. For me, I would rather book my fast boat to Gili online, before I leave home to know you are getting a good price and have secured your spot. The confirmation email will tell you what time you will be picked up from your hotel, but they probably will not be able to confirm when you will arrive at the Gili Island of your choice. 

How To Travel From Ubud To The Gili Islands

Traveling from Ubud is a little more complicated because of the distance it takes to get from Ubud to the port where the ferries leave from. I will explain how we got to the Gilia Islands from Ubud, and explain our experience so you know what to expect. After, I will share some tips to make the journey a little smoother. 

We booked our ticket in Ubud, through our friend Komang. She showed us a brochure from her friend’s tourist office, advertising a round trip ferry, including air-conditioned transit from any hotel in Ubud, or the south Bali beach areas, for about $120 a person. We were able to negotiate the price down from there, but it was a bit of a hassle.  

Book a Fast Boat to Gili – only 90 Minutes

Transfer From Ubud Hotel To The Boat Dock

The boat company we used was Eka Jaya. It seemed to be popular and advertised everywhere on Gili Air island (in our opinion, the best Gili Island). They picked us up at our hotel in a shuttle bus with a mess of other people. Because we were staying a little out of Ubud, we were last on the bus, meaning two things: 1) our pick up time of 7 am was an estimate given to everyone, actual times may vary; and 2) I had the middle seat, next to the driver, and up against the stick shift. Oh well.  

Fast Boat to Gili Travel to Gili IslandsMost fast boats to Gili depart from Padang Bai. Some leave from Serangan Harbor, which is further south. We arrived in the port at Padang Bai about 90 minutes later. There was mass chaos, as women touts tried to sell snacks for the boat ride. We grabbed our luggage and made it to the Eka Jaya office to get our boarding pass. The company took our bags, gave them a luggage tag for our destination, and whisked them away. 

The chaos continued as we made our way onto the busy pier, with lots of boats lining the dock, more touts, and plenty of passengers. We watched them load the bags, with mine seemingly dropped in some wet cargo hold. We ventured aboard, handing in our boarding card. It’s important to be patient here. Don’t expect a first class, luxury travel experience. Just go with the flow. 

What Is The Fast Boat From Bali To Gili Like?

Fast Boat to Gili Travel to Gili Islands
A passenger on the boat roof

The cabin was not like the picture in the brochure (never is, right?). Half of the interior had full seats, and the back half had lined benches. We scored a seat towards the front, in front of a fan (there was no air con). We braced for the worst having heard a recent horror story of a 5-hour journey through storm swells. It depends on the Gili Islands weather. But, we arrived in Gili Trawangan just short of 90 minutes later. The ride was smooth enough that I was able to fall asleep for a few minutes. 

The fast boat from Bali to Gili makes multiple stops. First, the boat travels from Bali to Gili Trawangan, and then it continues onto Gili Air. That was our destination. We waited on board while most of the boat left. More people boarded shortly later and we were off for the short 10-minute ride to Gili Air. The boat most likely continued to Lombok before returning to Bali. About 30 minutes after leaving Gili Trawangan, we arrived in Gili Air. That means the total travel time on board for the boat to Gili is about two hours, but that is always an estimate. The fast boat dropped us just off the coast, on the Gili Air beach. 

How To Travel From Gili To Ubud (And The Rest of Bali)

The Fast Boat To Gili - How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands
The Fast Boat To Gili – How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands

Our return trip from Gili to Bali was a little less easy. This might not happen to you, but if it does, it’s important to know it’s not that unusual.  The trip from Bali to Gili Air certainly wasn’t luxurious, but it ended up being easier than the trip from Gili Air to Bali. Although our return ticket read “check-in time 10 am,” we asked around about departure time and check-in time at a few of the tourist offices on Gili Air. Each time we were told something different. So, we made our way to the pickup point a little early. Our boat should not have left until 11, but we arrived around 9:30. We were promptly told “Eka Jaya boat not running today. You take that one” pointing to the boat that was making its way in. We expected to wait at the dock for about an hour, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Although we had to wait for the official passengers who booked their tickets on Marina Srikandi to board first, we got two seats in a much nicer cabin than Eka Jaya, albeit with painfully cold air conditioning. After picking us up at Gili Air, we ferried to Gili Trawangan where the boat filled, seemingly to the brim. We sailed for about an hour, I believe to Lombok (not entirely sure), before starting the official hour and 10-minute ride back to Bali.  

Find what other travelers have to say about Eka Jaya Fast Boat at TripAdvisor

Find what other travelers have to say about the Marina Srikandi Fast Boat at TripAdvisor

Transfer From Gili Fast Boat Pier To Bali Hotels

Fast Boat to Gili Travel to Gili Islands
I look thrilled right?

We arrived in Bali, once again, to mass chaos. This time, we were traveling to Sanur, not back to Ubud. They threw the bags overboard and tossed them on the pier. We found our bag among the taxi drivers offering direct taxis. Our purchase included a ride home, back to Ubud, or anywhere else, including Denpasar, Kuta, Sanur, etc. So, we declined the taxis, which would be more expensive.  

We found a shuttle bus with the company name on it. I got a much better seat. The bus filled pretty quickly. The driver informed us he would be driving us to the center of Sanur, not to our hotels. I asked, “why?” As I waited patiently for an answer, he told me he needed to come back to the port for the next group of passengers. I was afraid he would realize that I did not even book with his company. I continued to look at him until he asked where we were staying. He then collected hotel information for all the passengers and dropped us off in succession, after the one hour ride to Sanur. 

Book a Fast Boat to Gili – only 90 Minutes

Verdict: How To Get To The Gili Islands From Bali

My overall verdict? Not too bad of a journey. When it comes to ferry transport I always expect the worst after a boat trip in Malaysia back in 2009. That was miserable Aside from some minor inconveniences, the boat rides were relatively smooth, with just some small rough seas. I also think it helps to hear from someone else’s experiences before the day of travel to know what to expect. For example, you may book your ride on one boat, but end up riding on another. Or, you may be promised hotel drop off and then have a driver who doesn’t want to follow through. Now, you know what to expect. 

My Top Tip on Travel to the Gili Islands: Book ahead. By booking ahead with a reputable company, you can avoid the negotiation and hassle. And, by booking with a company like Viator, with a credit card, you have more options for redress if there are any problems during your journey.

More Gili Islands Travel Tips

Top Gili Island Travel Experiences

Check out this 3 Day Sailing to Komodo Island and hang out with the dragons! From $240 per person.

Or, save the hassle of booking a fast boat to Gili, and book a 6-day complete tour of Bali and the Gili Islands, with hotels. From $675 per person.

Interested in diving in Indonesia? Check out this PADI Explore Dive from only $65.

Recommended Gili Islands Hotels: Check out the top hotel recommendations in the Gili Islands.

Where to Eat in the Gili Islands: Eat fresh fish or check out these restaurant recommendations on TripAdvisor!

Gili Islands Things To Do: Once you take the fast boat to Gili, what is there to do? Book a private snorkeling excursion (starting at $90 per person) or just lounge on the beach! 

*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.

Pin It To Save For Later!

The Fast Boat To Gili – How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands

The Fast Boat To Gili - How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands

11 thoughts on “The Fast Boat To Gili – How To Get From Ubud To The Gili Islands

  1. Amber Hoffman says:

    Thanks Kim. The shuttle bus ride was not all that bad, I just loved the woman with the neck pillow for the one hour ride…

  2. Theresa Burkard says:

    What a thorough article. I am so agree with tip number 2! That kind of Indonesian tradition really did help my budget traveling. LOL. Anyway, later I found out that there's plenty other beautiful islands in Indonesia like Derawan Island or Kei Island. Have you heard about that? I usually read Jak Post for my daily digest about Indonesia's tourism destinations. You should read it too, and maybe one day we got bump into each other in some place in Indonesia. 😉

  3. Amber Hoffman says:

    Theresa, thanks for the tips, I will take a look at those other islands. We are always looking for new beach destinations nearby.

  4. Gita says:

    Thanks for writing the tips 🙂 Anyway, if you need more reference about Indonesia maybe you can also visit Jak Post, I also read some informative articles there. I hope it could be useful for you too.

  5. Jayadi says:

    Very interesting. I liked this post. I have never visited Gili Lombok. Maybe this year. seems to be very interesting when you can visit it. The plan I will get there by means of land travel by motorcycle. is there any accommodation for that? nice post.

  6. Mike says:

    Hi, many thanks for your details of the boat trip. It is now almost 2017, I wonder if there is any new development as to air travel as I will not have much time. Any suggestion to hotel in Gili T is also much appreciated. Thank you very much

    • Amber H. says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have hotel recommendations on Gili T, as we stayed on Gili Air. I believe it is possible to fly from Bali to Gili T, but I am not sure what the status is. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  7. Ciara says:

    Great information, Thanks. I was struggling to find clear information online so this is great. We are thinking to sacrifice a night in ubud so we can go to gili straight from seminyak. Does that sound less hassle?

    • Amber Hoffman says:

      I wouldn’t skip Ubud, but it’s not a bad idea to leave from Seminyak. In the end, though, If you leave from Ubud, go to Gili, and then return to Seminyak that probably makes the most sense. In the end, driving from Ubud to Seminyak can take a while with traffic and will end up killing a day anyway.

  8. Ruhan says:

    Thank You so much for sharing your experiences, its been over 3 hours I was searching for some relevant information to reach to GILI T. Internet is full of things that mostly dont make sense.

    Once again thank you !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.