Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have endless days backpacking around South East Asia, where missing a boat has very few consequences – after all you can just try again tomorrow… or next week. But for the vast majority of us we have tight holiday schedules and pre booked hotels, where missing a boat can cause some serious headaches.
Bali (like many parts of Asia) runs on something called Indonesian Rubber Time – that is time being very flexible. If you’re on a 2 week holiday it can sometimes be frustrating to be spending hours waiting for the bus or boat which you are repeatedly assured is coming in 5 minutes.
I purposely didn’t title this post ‘How to get to the Gili Islands and Nusa Lembongan – stress free’ because you will almost always be affected by rubber time. It’s just much better to be experiencing rubber time whilst sat on the beach and sipping a drink than stood outside your accommodation wondering where the hell your taxi is. For this reason I would recommend the following boat companies when travelling to/from the Gilis and Nusa Lembongan.
Gili Islands: Blue Water Express
More expensive than some of the budget boat operators but you do get what you pay for. Blue water Express is run efficiently and they will pick you up and drop your off in most of Bali’s popular areas. Getting a free transfer from Denpasar or Ubud for example and being driven for an hour to Padangbai is all part of the service. They even phoned ahead to our hotel and WhatsApped me to let them know that recent volcanic activity meant we would have to sail slightly earlier (NB. WhatsApp is very popular in Indonesia so if you don’t have it I would recommend downloading it – it’s free). It would have been a nightmare if we had chosen one of the cheaper boat operators and paid for a taxi only to find the boat had already departed.
Yes there was some hanging around on the beach waiting for the boat to depart but Bluewater have a nice shaded seating area and provide you with free bottled water and should you want them, anti-sickness tablets (The ride can be very rough!).
You can pre book boats online here.
Nusa Lembongan: Scoot Fast Cruises
We had an almost identical service to the one provided by Bluewater Express. The only difference being the colour of the boats. We had timely transfers to and from Nusa Lembongan and once on the island they will drive you to your accommodation. On our return trip they then took us all the way to Ubud.
You can book your boat in advance here
If you are in any doubt about hiring a scooter whilst on Nusa Lembongan I recommend reading my post about it here.
You will definitely find cheaper boat operators but considering the efficient service offered by both of these companies, I would say it’s worth the extra cost. Considering that they provide a complete door to door service it’ll likely end up costing the same if you have to pay for private taxis to get you to a cheaper boat.