Underwater Statues in The Gili Islands
Visiting the Gili Islands is an unmissable stop on any adventure to Bali or South East Indonesia. The three stunning islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are encircled by perfect white sand beaches and bright blue ocean, each with their own individual charm and identity. But no matter which island you are visiting, finding the underwater statues at the Gili Islands is guaranteed to be the highlight.
The sculptures in the Gili Islands consist of a series of life-size human figures, each positioned in different poses and arranged in small groups at various depths in the waters surrounding the islands. They are made from a particular type of concrete that is designed to be environmentally friendly and promote the growth of coral and other marine organisms.
The underwater statues at the Gili Islands are focused around two main sites: The ‘Nest’ and The ‘BioRocks’.
The Nest is an art installation by sculptor and underwater photographer Jason DeCaires Taylor, as commissioned by Gili Meno’s Bask eco-resort. On the ocean floor around 50m off the coast, The Nest is made up of sculptures of 48 embracing human figures, placed in a circle. This beautiful structure serves several purposes that go beyond beautiful art. Firstly, it has the potential to be a new home for coral species, which have been endangered in Indonesia and worldwide. Over time, the Nest will become host to an entire reef. This makes it an incredibly popular snorkeling spot, helping the local economy through tour operations.
Visiting The Nest
- Go on a snorkeling trip. Visiting the underwater statues is always a key stop on snorkeling trips departing from any of the three Gili Islands. The good thing with doing this is that the boat will take you right to the statues so you don’t have to worry about trying to find them, but the downside is you’re then looking at them with the twenty other people from your boat, and the forty from all the others. A lot of fins in face!
- Find the statues yourself if you’re staying on Gili Meno. Head down to the Western side of the island early in the morning (before 9am) and stand exactly opposite the white minaret from the main mosque over on Gili Trawangan. This should mean that you’re stood in front of a big white sign for a resort called Bask. Swim out from here approximately 50m and you’ll see the statues
- Head over to the statues in a kayak from Gili Trawangan. Rent a kayak from one of the stalls near Gili Divers (early in the morning if you want to beat the crowds!), and kayak for 15 minutes over to Gili Meno. Head straight across and park your kayak on the beach. Then follow the directions above for visiting from Gili Meno.
Note: The current at The Nest can be incredibly strong. Fins are essential and you must be a strong swimmer if visiting without a tour group.
BioRocks is a collection of metalwork that has been submerged in the ocean off Gili Trawangan by local charity, Gili Ecotrust. Like The Nest, this is aimed at creating an area for a coral reef to develop on the structures. If carefully protected, BioRocks should cultivate a self-sufficient reef, and subsequent popular snorkelling spot. Metalwork here famously includes two scooters that have become infamous across social media.
Visiting BioRocks is very easy if you’re staying on Gili Trawangan. If so, head to a hotel called Villa Ombok and walk out along their jetty. About 50m out from here is a small yellow floating pontoon with solar panels on the top. Swim out to this, and you’ll find the scooters and a whole host of cool metal work below.
If you’re not staying on Gili Trawangan, many of the snorkelling trips from Gili Meno or Gili Air include a stop here. It’s less busy here than The Nest, so it doesn’t matter what time of day you visit.
It is worth noting that the Gili Islands are also known for their stunning coral reefs and diverse marine life, which include sea turtles, reef sharks, colourful fish, and other fascinating creatures. As such, visitors are encouraged to respect the fragile environment and to follow responsible diving and snorkelling practices to minimize their impact on the underwater ecosystem.
Let us know if you have visited/ plan to visit the underwater statues at the Gili Islands!