What You Need To Know Before Your Divemaster Course On Gili Air

Posted on 10/05/2018 by Silke Mueller

Are you thinking about doing your Divemaster on Gili Air? Did you maybe already book your flights and want to know a little more about the island before making it your home? Whatever the case may be, this article is for anyone who wants to stay on the island for a little longer than a few days.

What Can I Expect From Gili Air?

Silke Müller - Gili Air sunset

The Instagram answer would be burning sunsets and crystal clear water. While the sunsets do get pretty crazy and the visibility leaves nothing to be desired, there’s a little more to the story of Gili Air. The ‘keeping it real’ answer to the question would be frequent power cuts and chickens running in front of your bike. But it would also include great diving in warm waters and beers with new friends while watching the sunset.  

How To Get To Gili Air

Silke Müller - Fast boat

Gili Air is part of the Gili island archipelago located off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. There are two ways to reach us: you can take a fast boat from Bali or fly into Lombok.

If you are in Bali, there are three major departure points to the Gilis: Amed, Padangbai and Benoa. Amed is the furthest from the Denpasar Airport but the closest to the Gilis. Padangbai is the most common option where many fast boat companies are based. You won’t have to worry about how to make your way there as most companies also offer a complimentary shuttle service to Padangbai. The closest harbour to the airport is Sanur. Check out Gili Bookings, Patagonia Xpress, Ekajaya Fast Boat or Gili Getaway for up-to-date prices and schedules. A fast boat from Padangbai to the Gili Islands will usually take about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the sea conditions.

On a budget with a little bit more time? Public ferries leave for Lombok from Padangbai every hour. While this option is cheaper (IDR 40.000 per person), the journey takes about five hours and you will not arrive in Bangsal. When you arrive in Lombok you will need to drive about 1,5 hours to get to Bangsal from where the boat leaves for the Gilis (IDR 12.000 IDR).

If you decide to arrive in Lombok by plane, you’ll need to take a taxi from the airport to the Bangsal harbour which costs about 150.000 IDR - 200.000 IDR and takes about two hours. Once you reach Bangsal, you can either take the public boat (IDR 12.000) to Gili Air or get a private transfer. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the Gili Air harbour from Bangsal.

If all this information is a little too much and you just want to get here without having to worry about anything (which is understandable), just send us a message and we can arrange your transportation for you.

Where To Stay On Gili Air

You will be responsible for your own food and accommodation for the duration of your Divemaster course with Manta Dive.

All good, though. Gili Air has a wide range of accommodation options - you’ll find anything from basic rooms to luxury villas. Most people live in homestays which offer rooms with a range of amenities. The price depends entirely upon what you need - AC or fan, hot water, and WiFi are the most common factors in determining the price. You can also rent an entire bungalow if you prefer to have your own space. Prices start from 2.000.000 IDR with most options being around 4.000.000 IDR (be aware that the prices may change depending on high/low season).

As much as we would like to give you the answer to the best accommodation option for you, it’s just not possible. Availability and prices vary due to the season (high season is from June to October here). Our recommendation is to book a homestay for your first couple of nights (via booking.com, for example) and then have a look around the island once you’re here. Our staff can help guide you to a variety of options, depending on your needs. That way you’ll be able to get a feel for the place and won’t have to decide from thousands of miles away.

What To Eat On Gili Air

Silke Müller - Nasi Campur

While local street food is always a favourite with our DMTs, there is a decent variety of restaurants here - for an island in Indonesia. Meal prices range from 20.000 IDR (about 2 USD) to 15 USD and eating out is often less expensive than actually cooking for yourself. Vegetarian and vegan options are available in most restaurants. If you really crave a special condiment from back home, you can always take the boat to Lombok and go shopping in Mataram.

How To Get Around The Island

All of the Gili islands do not have any motorised vehicles and the only thing resembling cars are horse carts (known as “cidomos”). Instead of motorbikes, most people living here have bicycles to get from one place to another. While you can rent bikes, we would highly suggest buying one if you’re here any longer than a couple of weeks. You can usually sell the bike at the end of your stay for almost the same price you got it for. There is always someone selling their bike and the best way to find one (aside from asking people on the island) is a Facebook group called “Gili Air - Pinboard”. Join the group to find out about accommodation offers, bikes for sale and other things happening around the island.

Will I Have WiFi?

The short answer is “yes”. The longer version is “yes - weather, electricity, and mood of the internet gods permitting”. Most places on the island have an internet connection, Manta Dive included. With frequent power cuts and other island challenges, don’t plan on it being regularly reliable. The easiest way to ensure you (almost) always have an internet connection is to buy a local SIM card. These can be bought on the island and work with a prepaid system. You buy a certain amount of data and once it runs out, you simply go into the shop and buy more data. It costs just 150.000 IDR for 15 GB. So no stress.

While we’re on the topic of the internet: Netflix in Indonesia is a tricky thing. For some people it seems to work perfectly fine, others can’t access their account or the movies won’t load. We, therefore, suggest bringing some movies or series with you. Don’t have any? An empty hard drive will do. Our staff has built up quite a collection over the years and we can provide you with hours of entertainment.

Do I Need A Visa?

Visas are important and you need to be aware of which one you want when you arrive in Indonesia. The simplest option is the paid visa on arrival (which costs 35 USD). This allows you to stay in the country for 30 days and can be extended for 30 more days on the nearby island of Lombok. The extension costs 800.000 IDR. Find out more about visa regulations here.

Please be aware that if you enter on the free visa and plan on staying longer than 30 days, you must leave the country to get a new visa on arrival. If you want to stay for longer than two months, it is easy to fly out and back for a new visa allowing for a slower paced Divemaster course.

Diving With Manta Dive

Jenni Collier - Manta Dive boat

Let’s get to the fun part, the reason you’re coming to Gili Air: scuba diving! For the duration of your Divemaster course, all of your dives are included. So if you have extra time and energy, you are able to log unlimited additional dives and experience!

Nitrox, Deep, Perfect Buoyancy, Night, and Navigation Specialty courses are included in the Divemaster course and do not increase the price as they are part of the package. We complete workshops on these critical topics as part of your training to better help you control dives in these different types of conditions.

We expect all of our candidates to assist around the dive centre as part of their internship. After all, that’s the reason you’re doing your Divemaster: to experience what it’s like to work in the scuba industry and get a behind-the-scenes insight into a dive centre.

We generally work from 8 am to 5 pm every day. One night a week is “late shift” and you have one day off a week. You will become a full team member and assist as necessary – learning all the parts of running a dive centre. We generally run two dives per day, with 3 – 4 dives on busy days so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to log extra dives when you’re not busy assisting on courses.

Rental dive equipment is provided with the course. However, as a working dive professional it is imperative to own your own total diving system. At a minimum, you’ll need your own dive computer, surface marker buoy, compass, whistle and tank banger. As previously mentioned, a professional quality BC, regulator, exposure suit, mask and fins available for rent at no extra charge for the duration of your course. However, these are items that, as a dive professional, you should be thinking about purchasing.

In terms of exposure suits, it depends entirely on your sensitivity. With waters being comfortably warm all year around, you can easily go on dives in just a rash guard. Temperatures average 27 - 29 °C with the occasional thermocline. We provide our guests with 3mm shorties to give you an idea of what you should prepare for.

In order to make your Divemaster course a little bit more meaningful and give back to the ocean, you have the option to participate in our biorocks program. The biorocks are artificial reef structures we have installed in the waters just outside of Manta Dive. Find out more about them here.

What Else Can I Do Besides Diving?

Silke Müller - Pink sunset

In the rare case you would like to do something other than diving (we really don’t know why that would happen) there is a range of activities offered on and around the island. While the favourite might be watching the sunset, there’s something for everyone. Find out more about the different activities here.

What Should I Bring With Me?

Here’s a list of things you should / could / might think about bringing. This logically depends on your personal preferences, but in case you have no idea what to bring, this will give you an idea.

  • your diving equipment (duh)

  • reusable water bottle (we sell them at our shop as well, but if you already have your own, please bring it)

  • reef safe sunscreen

  • adapter (Indonesia uses European-style two-pin round plugs → C plugs)

  • rain jacket (depending on the season; the rainy season is from November through April and short tropical showers happen frequently during those months)

  • robust shoes (if you’re thinking of exploring Lombok a little bit and maybe even contemplating hiking up the volcano, you will need them; on Gili Air, you only need flip flops or no shoes at all)

  • vitamins and any medication you need (it’s a little island, these things are hard to come by here)

  • not too many shirts (you’ll get Manta Dive shirts from us)

We could go on all day with things to know about our island, but it’s probably best if you come to see it for yourself. There are always new things happening and you’ll quickly discover your own favourite lunch and dinner spots.

We think we have covered all the points you need to know about before starting your DMT with us. In the unlikely event that you still have a question, feel free to write us a message to anna@manta-dive-giliair.com :)

We look forward to you joining our team!

See you in paradise!

Alfred Minnaar - Manta Dive boat

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