Gili Meno offer many dive sites to cater for novices and experienced divers alike. A large number of reefs have been exposed to dynamite fishing in the past and this has result in large patches of dead coral scattered throughout the area. Slopes close to the islands are covered with broken pieces of coral which washes out onto the shore, littering the beach. While it is sad to see the destruction that was caused 20 years ago the positive side is that the algae and sponges that grow on the areas of dead coral attract many turtles that feast on this kind of vegetation.
Soraya is a series of ridges that run in between Gili Meno and Gili Air. This site again caters for divers from all experience levels. The middle ridge is shallowest at between 10-12 meters with the ridges gradually becomeing deeper towards each of the islands. The ridges become deeper towards the south, which usually creates the need for a safety stop in the big blue – an amazing experience in itself.
Hans boasts the brainiac, a pinnacle where moray eels, cuttle fish and lobsters can be found amongst the abundance of sea life. Around the brainiac there are stretches of sand with coral bommies where juvenile emperor angel fish, lion fish and many nudibrances can be spotted.
Halik reef runs along the side of Gili Trawangan with a stretch of shallow reef that consists of a scattering of coral bommies housing mantis shrimps, moray eels, nudibranches, lobsters and the occasional ribbon tail sting ray.
At the outer edge of the shallow water there is a wall that falls down to 12 to 16 meters followed to a gentle coral bommy filled slope that extends into the depths.
Along the wall you can find schools of unicorn fish, soldier fish, butterfly fish, and if you are lucky, an octopus or two!
If you are looking to find turtles, this magical dive promises to delight you. Turtle city is a coral covered pinnacle, with valleys of coral and usually has at least 10 to 16 turtles lazily hanging out on the bottom or slowly swimming up for air
. To make this dive even more spectacular you could find large schools of batfish, sergant fish and blue fin trevallies hanging around.
The pinnacle starts at around 8 meters and gently slopes down deeper making this site ideal for novices and experienced divers alike.
Bounty is the local ‘wreck’ of a floating jetty that sunk about 10 years ago. It layst propped up against a gentle slope, starting at a depth of around 9 meters with the bottom at 17 to 18 meters depending on the tide.
The bounty houses many schools of drummer fish, fusiliers and damsel fish. There are also many large groupers and sweetlips hanging around.
The deeper reef boasts ridges and a large glassfish bommy where a keen eye can spot flabillina nudibrances and perhaps the odd leaf scorpionfish or two.
Towards the south end of the bounty you will find the added bonus of two coral-covered bicycles that you can explore.
Maya slope/Meno wall
If you are diving on Gili Meno, you can reach Maya slope/ Meno wall from the shore, although taking a boat out saves you a surface swim that could end up being against the outgoing current.
The slope is perfect for muck diving with some leaf scorpion fish, frog fish and pigmy seahorses hiding in the area.
The wall is littered with lion fish, soldier fish and, on a night dive, you can spot some parrot fish sleeping in the crevices.
Bio rock is the Gili islands’ artificial reef project where structures were created and placed in the shallow water close to the Gili Trawangan harbour. The bio rock houses parts of coral attached to structures that are shaped in giant dolphins, domes and even a manta ray.
As with many sites that boast similar names this site creates expectations of dives where you are surrounded by sharks, circling an curiously eyeing a group of divers. Though it is likely that you might encounter sharks on this dive, it is not guaranteed. Having said that, this site has no shortage of fish life with large groupers, schools of Moorish idols and even some cuttle fish hanging around.
* A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com