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TRAVEL HOTSPOT / Indonesia: Turtle spotting around the Gili Islands

27 September 2016
Laatste update: 12 September 2017

Going on a trip to the Gili Islands in Indonesia? Then you should definitely consider seeing the underwater world as well. Where you can find stunning places and animals on the islands in Indonesia, you can also find beautiful creatures and coral in the ocean. Like amazing sea turtles!

Diving or snorkeling

Never been underwater before? There are different options to enjoy this whole different world. A lot of places around the coastline offer dive courses where you can learn to dive in just a couple of days. These dive courses will cost you in general around € 350,- (on the Gili Islands) and therefore you get a PADI certificate. This certificate is valid in thousands of places around the world. And you are able to see a lot of stunning places under sea level everywhere you want to go.

Not keen on diving? Then you can also consider to snorkel! You might see less, but still explore amazing things. I tried to get my PADI before as well, but was not able to finish the course due to ear problems. So my only option on the Gili Islands was snorkeling. And yes, that was still definitely worth it. And much cheaper. For around 30.000 IDR / 50.000 IDR you can rent a snorkel set for the whole day on the Gili Islands. That’s around € 2,- / € 3,-. Cheap activity!

Swimming with turtles

Snorkling around the Gili Islands is great fun. I have to be honest, the coral around the coastline is not as stunning as it can be. It completely lost his color so therefore I am sure there are better places to go to if you want to see that. But you can see a lot of colorful and amazing fish though (yellow, blue, orange, you name it!). And one of the best things I haven’t seen anywhere before yet: sea turtles! And that made this place one of my favorite places to snorkel around.

Best place to spot turtles

Although the Gili Islands are extremely small, not every part of the islands is the best place to snorkel. The first day we tried it on the East side of Gili Trawangan, in the middle of the island. My boyfriend saw one turtle swimming, far away, but I was not able to see it. The next time we tried it on the West side of Gili Meno. Not a success at all. Barely anything to see and the current was so strong that we both struggled with swimming. Also not a good place to go when we were there.

But then we decided to go to the North part of Gili Trawangan, on the East side (almost at the turn point). That was a lucky shot! I walked into the water, swam a bit, snorkeled around… and was suddenly shocked by some creature that was eating one meter next to me. Turtle! I was so surprised that you could actually see them so close by! And that he kept on eating. We were able to swim a while with him and it seemed he didn’t care at all. In the meanwhile we saw other turtles as well. Wow, what an experience! Two days later we went again and saw turtles again. So cool!

Turtle sanctuary

One sad thing about the turtles: the locals dig the eggs up the turtles lay on the beach, to sell them on the markets in Lombok. Luckily, not every local is happy about that fact. That’s why you can find turtle sanctuaries on both Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. The owners of these sanctuaries give people the opportunity to sell the eggs there instead of bringing them to the markets. Both sanctuaries have a sand field and at the moment the eggs hatch, they put the little turtles in aquariums. After eight months they release them into the ocean!
Baby turtle sanctuary
Schildpadden Gili Islands

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