Have you ever heard about the Gili Islands? They are everything a tourist could ever dream about, and while the other two are a bit too extreme, Gili Meno has a more classic touch. So, if you want to find a lonely island where you can escape from the daily routine, this is your best pick.
Countless couples from around the world spend their honeymoons there, away from the noise but still very close to the outside world. It’s located on the west coast of Lombok, the big, beautiful island, and is just 20 minutes away from the world-famous Senggigi beach (on a fast boat, of course). That makes it a pretty much perfect getaway spot for the foreigners.
That is exactly why all three Gili islands are becoming more and more popular around the world. By the way, they are populated by the ancient Sasak people, and in their language, “Gili” translates into “island”. Now, while Trawangan is the most famous one because of the wild parties that last till six in the morning, Meno is all about serenity, peace, and intimacy.
Therefore, it’s more suited for grown-up folks or young people in love that want to enjoy the island without all that hassle, drama, and craziness that you’ll find out there. Furthermore, the rich men and women also prefer Gili Meno over the rest, as it’s more prestigious and the service there is top-notch.
What Gili Meno Is All About
The locals call Gili T the tourist village, while Meno is the island of lovers. The beautiful nature, the azure water, and the breath-taking sunsets come together and create the most amazing atmosphere you might find on an island. Fact: Meno is the tiniest Gili of them all, with the least inhabitants. It sits right in the middle, combining the best of both worlds.
Despite the fact that it is pretty small, Gili Meno comes with white beaches and palm trees on one side and riveting grassland on the other. Don’t be surprised when you see cattle grazing. Go ahead, take out your phone and make as many wonderful photos for the kids as you can!
Ok, so, what else is there to do on this island besides cuddling with your significant other and watching the sunsets? Obviously, diving is the most popular sport here, and there is not one, but three dive spots available. Ask any scuba diver you see and they’ll tell you about them. Plus, there is an enchanting seawater lake and a Bird Park.
I’m not sure whether that’s because of the thrilling scenery or not, by the chirping of the local birds is nothing like what you’re used to in America or Europe. This park was built by a tourist from Australia and currently, it’s home to 200+ species of birds, such as pelicans, eagles, flamingos, and more. No wonder they make exotic sounds!
Getting Around On The Island
Please keep in mind that no motorized vehicles are allowed on any of these islands. So, you can only rely on the local bikes to get around, unless you want to walk (that’s a great idea, by the way). Wait, there’s another transport waiting for you in Gili Meno, and that’s the famous cidomo.
Basically, it’s just a cart drawn by a horse, but since we don’t have any of those in the Western part of the world, it will be a truly amazing experience to catch a ride in a cidomo. Hiking is one of the best things to do on the island, especially if you’re visiting with your friends. Just don’t forget to take enough water, because the sun can burn sometimes, and all that walking will dehydrate you.
Accommodation-wise, Gili M is a great place to stay. If you think that the beach will be covered in bungalows, tiny resorts, and hotels, you’re absolutely right! Obviously, there are some more up-class, luxurious options available, but it’s safe to say that even the cheapest rooms are nice and comfortable.
The cafes and restaurants have all kinds of delicious meals, including many international cuisines. The fish here tastes amazing, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since the locals are professional fisherman and known exactly how to cook seafood. Everything is cheap, too, which means y’all be able to get yourselves fool for just a couple of bucks.
The Heart And Soul Of Gili M
As the experienced tourists say, Gili Meno is a perfect place to stay, while Gili T will lose all of its charm after a week or so. The locals claim that Meno looks and feels almost exactly like Trawangan 10-20 years ago. At the same time, there is a huge group of people that live on Gili T for many years and only heads to Meno sometimes to chill and enjoy the quiet.
It all depends on your personal preferences and what it is that you’re looking for. I like both the parties and the quiet nights, which is why I can’t really decide which island is my favorite. If you like to walk instead of riding, I’m happy to say that it will take no more than two hours to walk around the island.
Gili Meno is only 2 km long and is the least developed island in the cluster. For some, that’s a turn-off. But for the real Robinson Crusoe, that’s a huge plus. The castaways, introverts, and men/women that are tired of their crazy big-city lives don’t want any of that on their trip. They just want to put some light clothes on and soak under the sun while sipping on something fresh and cold.
A note: please keep in mind that Indonesia is a Muslim country and provocative bikinis won’t be tolerated by the locals. Same goes for the fellas: don’t be a show-off and keep your t-shirt on, even if it’s very hot outside. Respect the traditions of the people that have been living here for ages.
Find Your Perfect Spot
Alright, to be honest, not every single tourist is swimming or hiking in Gili Meno. True, there are many enthusiasts among the visitors, but you’ll also see a lot of lazy folks lying in their lounge chairs, reading books, gossiping about the rest of the world and playing cards or chess.
But if diving truly is your passion, I’m happy to say that you’ll find all kinds of turtles, eels, and even cuttlefish in the surrounding waters. Again, grab your camera and make sure you don’t miss a single shot. There are some instructors that are ready to help with the gear and to tell you about the basic rules. There’s nothing hard about this, trust me.
Most of the action takes place in the south, as that’s where all the boats arrive. The beach life there is amazing, and most of the bungalows are located right on the shore. The work-out fans will be pleased to learn that there are enough quiet spots in Gili Meno that will allow them to completely give in to their exercises.
It might be hard to find some gear around here, but all the basic moves like lunges, squats, push-ups, and the rest will feel entirely different when you do them early in the morning, while everybody else is sleeping and all you can hear is the calm water and the singing of the birds.
How To Find Gili Meno
As with any other island in this area, you’ve got more than a few options to get to Gili Meno. The public boats/ferries are the cheapest pick, but they are super slow and you’ll have to wait until every single ticket is sold. Yep, no fun there. If you’ve got some additional bucks to spare and want to cut through the sea like you own it, go ahead and rent one of the speedboats.
Usually, a ride from Lombok to Meno takes very little time and won’t cost more than 40-50 US dollars. But how do you get to Senggigi where all the renting companies are based? Well, you’ll most likely land at the LIA (Lombok International Airport); from there, hop on a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the beach.
Or, get on a bus for Mataram and switch to a taxi there – that will cost you less. That is pretty much it. As always, you’ll have to make a choice between comfort and fun vs. cheap and slow. However, for the sake of the trip and the whole “island vibe”, I’d highly recommend using speedboats for your travels. As a general rule, the vast majority of the visitors on Gili Meno are couples.
But if you’re traveling with a big crowd, the journey on the fast boat will cost almost nothing. By the way, there are only 400 people living on the island, which means if you spend a week there, you’ll feel like the locals are some of your best friends and you’ve known them forever!