Escape into a tropical bliss on the tiny Island of Gili Meno….
The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three tiny tropical islands of Lombok just hours from the mainland island of Bali. Each islet is a different size which a distinct character. Gili Trawangan (commonly known as Gili T) became popular in the 90’s as the ‘party island’ today it still holds that very reputation with a vibrant bar and party scene. New and easy access via speedboat to the island has meant it has only become busier with growing popularity. The beaches have become crowded as beach clubs, modern accommodation, entertainment and cosmopolitan style venues have popped up around the island. In contrast, Gili Air, the second largest island offers a balance between luxe boutique hotels, sunset cocktails and the ability to relax. Meno, the third part of the trilogy is as simple as it gets, a relaxing desert-island aesthetic.
With a population of just 500, Gili Meno is as mellow as it gets. Here, you may be in solitude on the beach and the only sound you will hear is that of the waves rolling gently into the shore. Gili Meno is paradise found. The relaxed pace of island living and a strong sense of community with most locals born and raised on the island. In contrast to most tourist locations in Indonesia, eco-friendly habits are a necessity due to the nature of the island. Due to local ordinance both cars and motor transport are prohibited enhancing the peaceful nature of the island. Horse drawn carriages are available for transport on all of the Gili Islands but strongly discouraged due to several issues in the severe mistreatment of horses (more information here) The best way to get around this tiny island is simply by foot or by bicycle, which are available for hire from most accommodation and small shops.
Photographed by Aylin Oezkarakas
Even if you are not as accident prone or clumsy as myself, I strongly suggest placing valuables in waterproof bags. The ocean can get choppy, and you and your belongings can get completely covered in water at the best of times. When you arrive you will need to stride through the water so hold on to your things. Footwear optional.
From Bali: Take the shuttle bus provided by the boat booking service (there are currently 12 available) to Padang Bai. The popular Parame runs a shuttle service every day and leaves central Kuta at 10am, it takes approx. 3 hours to Padang Bai where the boat will take you directly to Gili T. If you are coming from anywhere else in Bali, you can book a driver for approximately rp. 400k. Once you arrive in Gili T simply take a connecting island-hopper for a scenic 15 minute trip to take you to Gili Meno.
Walking around the coastal path of Gili Meno takes only about an hour and is an absolute must. It’s quite impossible to get lost, so, exploring the paths within the island are also recommended. Here you will find local children playing, small coconut tree plantations and a saltwater lake in the centre of the island.
An afternoon walk ending on the sunset side of the island calls for breathtaking views.
Directly off the beachfront all the way along the north coast and the southern end of the west coast into pristine coral gardens or take a snorkelling trip to swim in the deeper waters and meet turtles. This can be booked at local stores, or through most accommodation. A private boat costs around rp 400k including gear and the guide will show you all of the best spots!
& that’s about it!
The best thing about Gili Meno is that there isn’t much to do! Relax, unwind, switch off and relax this destination is the ultimate chill zone.
Meno’s turtle sanctuary consists of a small beach side reserve of endangered baby green and loggerhead turtles of various sizes divided into little pools. The sanctuary’s operation has seen a significant impact on turtle populations with approximately 2000 turtles a year collected, hatched, nurtured until they are about 8 months old and safely released into the ocean, standing a far greater chance for survival.
Visitors are welcome between 8am – 6pm (more information here)
Budget: DIANA CAFÉ.
This humble café and accommodation is made of a bamboo and thatch bar, ocean facing tables, a few hammocks and simple bungalow accommodation. The friendly staff is made up of locals, the uncle of the owner runs the turtle sanctuary. The place is quaint and charmingly decorated with shells, the bungalow consists of a room with double bed, canopy, fan, hot shower & balcony for around $30-$40 a night depending on season. The café offers food throughout the day, a decently selection of vegetarian food is available (I recommend the gado gado & a refreshing watermelon juice). The dining tables lie directly on the beach and are perfect for watching the sunset. The owners also offer snorkeling tours & are happy to show you around. There is no website but reservations can be made via phone or email, or simply walk in!
Diana Café & Cottages
+62 (0) 8135 355 6612 | email@example.com
Luxury: KARMA REEF
Karma Reef is made up of two story one bedroom villas with beautiful kind sized four poster beds, out door shower, boutique kitchenette, air conditioning and ocean facing private balcony with views of Mt Rinjani. This beautifully built establishment includes a beachfront restaurant serving refreshing drinks and food whilst playing chill tunes through out the day. You can spend your visit in the resort, laying on the sunbeds or lounging in the luxe day bed surrounded by a canopy resting on cosy pillows. If you feel like an adventure, take Karma’s small paddleboat out for a spin or hire one of their wide tire bicycles (make sure you check the breaks first as they can be a little rusty!). There is also a Spa if you would like to treat yourself.
The villa’s cost between $200-$300 per night depending on season and bookings can be made via their website here
Affordable: JETTY BAR
This laid-back restaurant is positioned in between Karma Reef Resort and the Jetty on which you arrive (all within a short walk of each other). If you take a seat on the oceans edge you can enjoy views of the turquoise water whilst enjoying taste & inexpensive local cuisine, along with the typical holiday favorites on their large menu. The Jetty bar also serves fresh coconuts and is a great place to relax undercover with a view.
Mahamaya is the top restaurant on Gili Meno. The pricey menu is matched by the quality of food and service. With a top chef operating out of an open kitchen, Asian Fusion menu of an international standard is offered using organic produce wherever possible. The restaurant is situated on the sunset side of the island, so get in early and enjoy the serenity at Mahamaya.
Walk in or book via the website here
There is an ATM next to Malia’s Child, but there isn’t much to buy on Gili Meno. If you run out of cash, Blue Marlin is another option for a credit card cash advance, but they charge a 7% commission.
For an ultimate desert island experience, enjoy the rural delight that is Gili Meno!