Before hopping on board a fast boat to the Gili Islands, read on for our honest Blue Water Express Bali review, which also includes a bunch of top tips we think you should know before you go!
As soon as we were dropped off at Serangan Harbour in south Bali to board our boat, we wanted to write this review.
Not because we had a bad experience (spoiler: we actually had a great trip!), but because we realised straightaway that there’s A LOT to know beforehand to avoid worries or embarrassment.
First things first though, we are in no way affiliated with Blue Water Express. We just wanted to share with you everything we wished we’d known before catching a fast boat from Bali to the Gili Islands. We hope our tips come in handy!
Blue Water Express Bali Review: Quick Pros & Cons List
While fast boats are the most common way to get to the Gili Islands from Bali, Blue Water Express easily has some of the best reviews of all the companies offering this type of service.
We would have to agree with most of the reviews we’ve seen as well. We couldn’t fault the service we experienced either to or from Bali (apart from a rather slow disembarking in PadangBai due to crowds).
Anyway, here’s our quick pros and cons list for Blue Water Express.
Blue Water Express luggage allowances are very fair
The luggage allowance on board Blue Water Express is very fair. You’re allowed to take a whopping 25kg bag plus carry-on, which easily matches what you’d have on the plane when flying into Bali.
There’s no need to carry your own hold luggage
Not only is their luggage allowance fair, but Blue Water Express also take your luggage on board and offloads it for you.
These particular Bali fast boats aren’t just for serious backpackers, so you shouldn’t feel like you can’t take a normal suitcase on board. In fact, it’s a very common thing to do!
You’ll get given water, sweets and even seasickness pills… for free!
While the Blue Water Express fast boats are more expensive than some of their competitors, your ticket price includes a small bottle of water, a couple of sweets and even seasickness pills.
The latter is perhaps the most crucial thing to remember and what sets this company apart from many others!
Blue Water Express is one of the most expensive fast boat companies
Fast boat services to and from the Gili Islands are now so common that many prices have been driven down by competition.
But this isn’t the case for Blue Water Express as it’s one of the most expensive of all the fast boat companies. However, as with most things, you really do get what you pay for!
Top Tips & Things To Know About Blue Water Express Fast Boats
From knowing the rules of check-in and luggage allowances to what it’s actually like on board, here’s everything we can think of that you should know before hopping on a Blue Water Express fast boat to the Gili Islands…
1. It’s best to buy your tickets in advance… but last-minute boat trips are possible
Tickets can be bought online in advance, which is recommended. Especially in the peak season, Blue Water Express boats can fill up fast, so you don’t want to be caught out.
You can book directly with Blue Water Express, or you can use TripAdvisor if you prefer.
If you have to make a last-minute boat trip, Blue Water Express can sometimes accommodate you if they have space on one of their boats.
In this case, it’s best to either phone ahead or ask in person at the check-in desk if you’re already in the area.
2. You’ll be asked to check-in just like you would at an airport
Whether you’re going to or from Bali, you’ll be asked to check in at least 30 minutes before the boat leaves.
You’ll be asked to show your passport and confirm how many bags you have to load on, then you’ll be presented with your tickets and luggage tags.
3. You might be asked to sign a slip of paper if you have scuffs or marks on your luggage before boarding…
We were impressed when we were given a little pink slip of paper to show where Blue Water Express had seen damage on my luggage before we boarded. It showed that they don’t mind spending the time and attention to check things over.
4. Don’t worry about your luggage; it will be taken care of for you
Before catching our Blue Water Express fast boat, we’d had visions of having to carry our 20kg suitcases on board the boat ourselves… up a tiny ladder.
But thankfully, our luggage was taken care of for us. We dropped our bags off before checking in, and after a quick inspection, they took them on board for us and unloaded them once we got to our final destination.
And don’t worry about your bags getting wet either! The luggage is loaded into the bottom of the boat where they should be protected.
5. Remember to take the pink seasickness pill they give you!
Scott and I don’t usually suffer from seasickness but catching a Blue Water Express fast boat was the exception because of the huge waves they have to commandeer around.
One of the great things about Blue Water Express is that they give you little pink seasickness pills, which you should aim to take as soon as they give them to you (ideally 30 minutes before boarding).
Although they might not work their magic completely on you, they will help you save face… we were taking no chances, and given the issues we saw from the family near us, we’re very glad we didn’t!
6. You’re not allowed to open the windows on board
The boats can get quite hot inside especially when they’re busy, but you won’t be allowed to open the window for fresh air.
As mentioned before, the waves can get very big when crossing the Lombok Strait, so you’ll be asked to close the windows to avoid water coming in.
7. You might be allowed to go on the upper deck
If you do want some fresh air then you’re allowed on the upper deck when the crew says it’s safe to do so. That said, you’ll need some strong sea legs to get up the stairs, so hold on tight!
8. There’s a toilet on board you can use
It might not be the nicest toilet in the world and the rocking boat definitely doesn’t help, but at least there is one you can use when it’s urgent.
9. Take note of the Blue Water Express cancellation policy
Even on beautiful clear days, the waves are huge. So can you imagine what they would be like if you had to cross stormy seas?
Cancellations due to adverse weather are unusual outside of the rainy season (January to March) but still possible.
In the event of a cancellation, Blue Water Express will give you a couple of different options:
- Reschedule for another day free of charge (if they have spaces!)
- Cancel your trip, make other arrangements and receive a refund
- Catch a flight to and from select airports instead (usually for no additional cost)
10. Take note of the Blue Water Express ticket change policy
Should you need to make changes to your ticket or the day you’re travelling, you can providing you’ve given more than 48 hours’ notice and if they have space on the boat you want to catch instead.
However, if you give less than a week’s notice, then you’ll be charged a cancellation fee, which is 50% of the price you paid.
So if you need to make changes, it’s best to give as much notice as possible to avoid fees or disappointment.
11. The seats on board are surprisingly comfy… but leather gets sticky in the heat!
The seats are surprisingly roomy on board and are padded, so you may find you’re rocked to sleep by the waves and comfortable chairs.
BUT they’re also upholstered in leather (or fake leather!), which gets sticky in the heat.
Avoid wearing short shorts or the backs of your legs might get stuck to the seats… which hurts like hell when you stand up after 2+ hours!
12. The boats from the Gili Islands to Bali make a quick stop near Lombok for paperwork checks… but you can’t get off the boat!
This was definitely something we weren’t expecting; mainly because Lombok was in the opposite direction from where we were going!
But the crew has to show certain paperwork before ferrying you back to Bali so this slight detour isn’t something they can avoid.
It should only take a few minutes and you will be asked to stay inside the boat while all this goes on.
13. You’ll be asked to dunk your shoes in water before boarding at Gili Trawangan, so avoid slippery shoes or non-waterproof shoes
When boarding the boat at Gili Trawangan to head back to Bali, you’ll have to walk across lovely golden sand.
But because Blue Water Express want to keep their boats nice and clean, you’ll be asked to dunk your shoes in a tub of water on the upper deck before going to your seat. So avoid slippery shoes (like flip flops!) or non-waterproof shoes (like trainers!)
Scott chose to wear water shoes, which worked well as they’re quick-drying, comfortable and non-slip, so we’d definitely recommend getting some if you can.
14. You have to board the back of the boat in Gili Trawangan and make your way around the side of it to get to your seat
We were really surprised when boarding the boat back to Bali as we had to climb up a small ladder on the back of the boat, cross the upper deck and shimmy our way around the side of the boat to reach the door leading to where all the seats were.
Definitely avoid slippery shoes and avoid carrying anything in your hands as you’ll need to hold on tight… or yes, you will be in that water quicker than you can say “Shit!”
The ledge is quite narrow… so we feel a little sorry for anyone with big feet; you might find it tricky so take your time!
15. Blue Water Express fast boats are NOT suitable for pregnant women or people with back problems
The huge waves that the boat experiences throughout the journey make Blue Water Express fast boats unsuitable for pregnant women, the elderly or people prone to back problems.
If you really can’t avoid travelling if any of the above applies to you, then you’ll be asked to sign a disclaimer stating that you’re aware of the issues and can’t hold the company responsible.
Our Final Thoughts About Blue Water Express
Aside from a slight case of queasiness, very rocky sea conditions and a slow disembarkment at PadangBai, our experience with Blue Water Express was great.
Check-in was simple, we never had to worry about our luggage and the trip between the Indonesian islands was straightforward.
We hope our top tips above mean you have just as great an experience on board as us.
We hope you find our tips and Blue Water Express review helpful but just let us know if there’s anything else you want to know that we haven’t covered. Pop a note in the comments below and we’ll reply asap. For now, though, enjoy planning your trip to the Gili Islands!
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