GILI MENO ISLAND TRAVEL GUIDE
Sep 4, 2016
Gili Meno is a tiny island near Lombok, Indonesia and is one of the three Gili Islands.
Each of the Gili Islands has a distinctly different vibe despite their close proximity.
THE GILI ISLANDS
Gili Meno: Honeymoon island
Gili Trawangan: Party island
Gili Air: The Blend/ Chill-out spot
We chose to spend four days on Gili Meno and four days on Gili Trawangan. Gili Meno had a relaxing vibe and made you feel separated from the rest of the world. The local standard of living is low compared to western standards and the infrastructure is much less advanced. Many of the homes and buildings are made by hand without power tools. However, as with many places around the world, the people appear to be very happy and friendly.
GETTING TO THE GILI ISLANDS
The ferry from Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan is $3.50USD and runs twice daily although you can charter a private boat for $15. A return trip from Kuta, Bali costs $60USD per person and was on a crammed “fast” boat. It wasn’t a terrible journey but I have had more comfortable boat rides. Tip: Sit on the roof for a nice breeze and views. We didn’t know we were allowed to do this and were stuck in the stuffy undercarriage. As always, be prepared to go with the flow and deal with what may seem like a bit of an unorganized process of boarding the boats.
There is no police office nor police officers on Gili Meno, which may seem alarming but is testament to the culture on the island. We felt safe throughout our stay and were greeted by hello’s and smiles along every walk we took around the many winding paths of the island.
GILI MENO ACCOMMODATION: WHAT TO EXPECT
Gili Meno isn’t a luxurious island getaway like the Maldives or Fiji as it’s infrastructure is still very basic. We stayed in a small private room less than five minutes walk from the beach. Our room set us back $20USD per night but there are resorts offering much more luxurious lodgings with rooms available for more than $200USD per night.
Our room had a salt water shower, which was usually cold. We also had no sink or fridge. However we had air conditioning, which worked perfectly, a clean room and comfortable bed. The wifi barely worked but this is prevalent across the island, not due to our hotel. It is common on Gili Meno to experience power outages. We woke on our first morning, sweating and wondering why the air conditioner didn’t work. It soon booted up again as the power came back on.
We were happy with our accommodation considering the price but these conditions are something to be aware of, for those who are expecting a tropical getaway with all of the luxuries of a western-style lodging.
If you are open to handling the lack of a few western expectations this is a wonderful place to recharge your batteries and/or experience life on an isolated island.
GILI MENO ISLAND FOOD
Being on a budget, finding amazing food is not often a big priority for us as much as finding affordable food. We ate a variety of food on Gili Meno from food carts to dinner at the largest resort on the island.
Side carts: A few local spots around the island offer mixed rice for $2USD. I tried a mixed rice dish, which included beans, spices, vegetables and chicken. Eating from a side cart is always a bit of a risk for the stomach but I haven’t had any problems so far with cooked meat and rice. I would definitely recommend trying this at least once.
Sasak Cafe: On the west side of the island, this ocean-side eatery soon became our local sunset hangout. Our servers loved to chat with us and would often sit down beside us and talk about Gili Meno and their lives. A row of bean bags are assembled on the sand facing out towards the setting sun, which is one of the most relaxing ways to end the day. There are plenty of similar cafes like this along the coast offering food and drinks, as well as huts, sun beds and bean bags. You can expect to pay $5USD for a burger or $4USD for local eats such as noodle and rice dishes. Often we would order a couple of cheap drinks and enjoy the comfort of a hut or bean bag for quite a while.
Seri Resort: One of the best ways to discover the island is to walk around the coast and check out the resorts and beaches. We came across Seri Resort by chance and it looked amazing, the kind of place celebrities would vacation in. Despite our pretty tight budget we decided to have a splurge on our last night and went to the third floor overlooking the ocean and the pool. Here we ordered a very fancy dinner and a shisha/hookah pipe. Our server fast became our friend and told us if we ever visited Lombok he would show us around. We really love the genuine happiness and friendly spirit almost of all of the people on Gili Meno. Despite it being our huge splurge night, two drinks, two mains and the shisha/hookah pipe only set us back $35USD after the tip. A very small amount for a visitor from Australia or America for such a lavish night but for us, this is well over our daily food budget.
You should check out our BALI GLUTEN FREE / VEGAN GUIDE for your next trip to Indonesia
Scuba Diving: The Gili Islands are known for their amazing dive sites, water clarity and temperature. We didn’t go scuba diving but there are a number of day trips or full certification courses, which will have you diving with turtles and amazing coral.
Snorkeling: There are a handful of well known sites off the shore of Gili Meno that totally blew us away. We hired a private wooden long boat for the morning with a captain and a young boy who would swim with us showing us all of the points of interest. After jumping into the warm water we swam with countless sea turtles and thousands of colorful fish. Our next stop was the Meno wall which is a steep drop-off with an eerie atmosphere. There was also a shipwreck that we floated above, watching the scuba-divers below us investigate the remnants of the old vessel. There are also a collection of bicycles creating an artificial reef on the western side of the island which was my favorite underwater attraction.
Outdoor Gym: We love to use outdoor gyms and didn’t stumble across one in Bali but we found one of the coolest workout stations I’ve seen yet. It was made of old trees and some lead pipe. We used a pullup bar and a dip bar to get our sweat on.
Hut Hopping: On the eastern shore or the harbor side of the island there are a number of small huts and eateries. We used this to our advantage, ordering a drink and using the hut or bean bags at one restaurant before moving on to do the same at the next. We always made a small purchase of a drink or a meal but felt like we were getting the good end of the deal. This was a really relaxing way to spend the day.
TRANSPORT ON GILI MENO ISLAND
There are no cars or mopeds on the island. The only way to get around is to use a taxi, which is a horse-drawn cart or to rent a bike. We rented bikes for two days at a cost of $4USD per day per bike which was fun. However, the roads were not great and often there was just sand so we ended up walking some of the time anyway. On the days we didn’t rent bikes we walked around the island, which wasn’t a great trek and gave us a chance to look around and explore our surroundings.
There are several ATM’s on Gili Meno and prices run relatively similar to Bali so don’t expect a huge shock when you arrive. You can still find cheap food, accommodation and activities. However, if you are looking for luxury, it would be a dream to wake up in many of the beachfront bungalows.
Isolated and relaxing
No cars only mopeds
Very friendly/no police!
Laidback island vibe
Amazingly clear and warm water
Some of best snorkeling/diving in the world
Can walk anywhere on the island
Salt water showers
Wifi minimal/non existent
Lack of infrastructure
Lots of rubbish