DIVING & SNORKELING IN LOMBOK & GILI ISLANDS
Three small islands, surrounded by coral, The Gilis, off Lombok's west coast, are fast becoming one of her main draw cards. Dive centers with all the high tech equipment and professional instructors ensure that visiting divers at all levels of experience and ability can dive in waters that have more varieties of fish than anywhere in the world - and that includes The Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea.
The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beachside cafes playing reggae and serving up banana pancakes, and no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace. The white sand beaches are without a doubt better than anywhere on Bali or Lombok.
The Gili islands have excellent diving, with an impressive array of sea creatures and plant life to be seen, such as green and hawksbill turtles, manta rays, bumphead parrotfish and more. Visibility is commonly in the 15-20m range. However, due to the exposed position of the Gilis, currents can be quite strong and drift diving is the norm.
Now appears to head the list as the most popular island - it has long had a reputation as the 'party' island mainly through a concentrated and central foreshore area of restaurants, dive operations and hotels including some luxury boutique choices.
High standards, great instructors, new gear, good boats, saltwater pool for training.
Still the quietest island is a place to escape to and although it has a smaller list of accommodation options those that it has are tending towards a more up-market clientele. Snorkeling off beaches of pure white sand the coral is superb.
Has the largest local population and while it has more of a lived-in feeling than the other two islands for some that is quite possibly its attraction. On Gili Air it's possible to likewise enjoy the marine possibilities but also one can absorb some of the local culture missing on the other islands.
In addition to the Gilis there are many other dive and snorkel possibilities such as an area now being promoted on the rugged south coast where the experienced can now dive among hammerheads and rays.
SNORKELING ON GILI ISLANDS
You can rent masks and fins off the beach, or contact any of the numerous dive shops to arrange snorkeling or diving at choice spots nearby.
It's possible to snorkel right off the beach, but pay attention to the currents, which can be quite strong even near the shore.
The best snorkeling is at Coral Beach Bungalow (North side of Gili Trawangan) - turtles abound in this area! At low tide it is hard to get out without reef shoes.
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