The snorkelling and diving around the Gili Islands is some of the best and most accessible in Lombok, despite the havoc wreaked by an El Niňo in 1998, which locals estimate has cut down the visible marine life to around a fifth of what it was. Despite this, and a lot of visitors, however, the reefs remain in reasonable condition. All the islands are fringed by coral reefs and visibility is generally around 15m. The fish life includes white-tip and black-tip reef shark, sea turtles, manta rays, Napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrotfish.
There are good snorkelling spots just off all the islands’ beaches. Snorkel gear is widely available, but the condition does vary. Dive companies take snorkellers further afield for about and half-day tours of the three islands in a glass-bottomed boat are commonly advertised. The offshore currents around the island are strong and can be seriously hazardous. Dive operators are aware of this, but if you’re snorkelling or swimming off the beach it’s easy to get carried out further than you intend and then be unable to get back to land. There has been at least one drowning in recent years.
The best dive sites involve short boat trips. There are plenty of dive operators on the islands, and there’s a price agreement, so they all charge the same. All divers pay a one-off reef tax to the Gili Eco Trust, which works to protect the reefs around the islands.
The nearest hospital is in Mataram, where there is also a recompression chamber at Jl Adi Sucipto 13B (24hr hotline t0370 660 0333).