Set between Gili Air and Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, the spiritual and relaxing island of love, is the real escape to paradise with vacant stretches of beaches where you can relax under coconut trees. Like on the other Gilis you can also fill your day with activities like snorkeling, diving, surfing or just by taking in the tranquil views. Gili Meno is the smallest and least developed island, giving you the opportunity to completely relax amongst abundant nature. The island is very popular amongst couples and honeymooners, but also makes a perfect destination for a day trip whilst staying on Gili Air or Gili Trawangan. You can easily walk around the island in about one hour which leaves you enough time to explore its beaches, the salt water lake and some spooky abandoned hotels.
How to get there?
You can reach Gili Meno by fast boat or ferry. Boat connections are available via Bali and Lombok. See below for more details.
Those seeking total tranquility will definitely find it on Gili Meno. We enjoyed the atmosphere of this small island to the fullest and most of the time it felt like we had the whole island for ourselves. In low/rainy season you hardly find any visitors here. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the water surrounding Gili Meno is clear turquoise and the beaches are covered in brilliant white sand, fringed with groves of coconut palms. It definitely is a real paradise where you can fill your days with all kinds of water activities (snorkeling, diving, surfing etc.) or simply by taking in the tranquil views and let time slow down. Other points of interest are the turtle sanctuary south of the jetty and the salt water lake.
How long to stay?
It is possible to walk around the whole island on a small track along the beach in about 60 minutes and most visitors to Gili Meno largely come for romantic escapes and a chance to rejuvenate in the natural beauty of the islands’ deserted beaches. We only visited Gili Meno during a day trip, which was enough for us. For those of you who want to spend some romantic quality time with a loved one or who want to simply enjoy the nature, some yoga or meditation it probably would be advisable to stay a little longer. There is no rowdy bar scene or noisy full moon parties here, so Gili Meno provides the perfect setting for a holiday off-grid.
Where to stay?
There is a variety of accommodation on Gili Meno for those seeking a peaceful place in the sun with uncrowded beaches, clean waters and peaceful nights under the star-filled skies. Your options range from backpacker dorms, beachfront and village bungalows to luxury villas, apartments and resorts. There is also open air baruga-style accommodation for the true outdoors people. Those seeking total tranquility should head to the north and west of the island, whilst those who want to be closer to what the island has to offer should stay somewhere at the east coast.
Transport to the island As already mentioned there are several ways of getting to the island. We would like to provide some more details about the different options so you can choose which one is best for you:
Fast Boat Several fast boat companies operate from various ports in Bali. Most of them even offer a free transfer from your hotel to the boarding point. Ocean crossing time depends on weather conditions and can take 1 to 2 hours. There is a directory including the available fast boat companies. You will find it here.
Ferry or Public Boat This is the cheapest option. The ferry from Bali departs from Padang Bai (starts at 8 am) and arrives at the port of Lembar in Lombok. From Lembar you have to take a shuttle or taxi to go to Bangsal port. The ferry crossing takes 5 to 6 hours, plus approx. 2 hours for the taxi/shuttle and 15 to 30 min for the boat from Bangsal. Do not be afraid of the bad reviews of Bangsal harbour. We felt very safe and there were not too many people bothering us with overpriced offers or trying to scam us. Taxis have to drop you off about 1 km before the ticket office. Just head on straight until you reach the water. On the left you will find speed boat offers. On the right you will find the offices for the public boats. Boats start leaving early in the morning but no later than 4 pm in the afternoon. Speed boats run regularly while the public boats often wait until full.
Airplane Take a flight to the international airport in Lombok Praya and then make your way to Bangsal port (approx. 2 hours by taxi). Then book a boat from the port office. You can also take a speed boat from Senggigi or Teluk Nara.
Helicopter Air Bali offers this service. You can book your flight online. The heliport is based in Benoa, Bali and will take you directly to Gili Trawangan. The flight takes about 45 min and your booking includes transportation to the heliport in Benoa. More information can be found here.
Once on the island you will be offered transport solutions to almost anywhere in Bali and Lombok. So going back is super easy. There also are island hopping boats so you can manage your transport between the islands. The public boat always leaves early in the morning (8:30 to 08:45 am) and returns around 4 pm. Speed boat connections are available every hour.
Fun Facts It is never wrong to know some interesting facts about the places you visit, so here we go:
1) The word “Gili” means “small island”, and so the three islands have come to be know as “The Gilis” amongst travelers.
2) The Gilis are Lombok’s most popular islands and are consistently rated as top SEA island destinations by travellers and travel publications.
3) There are more than 30 Gilis around Lombok, but Trawangan, Meno and Air are by far the most frequently visited.
4) Like the majority of the Lombok community, the inhabitants of the Gili islands are primarily Muslim and each island has at least one mosque emitting sounds of live prayer five times a day. So either bring good earplugs to avoid being woken up at 5 am or take the chance and rise early.
5) Gili Air is the only island with a natural source of fresh water. And “Air” means “water”.
6) Gili Meno, “meno” means “middle”, has its own salt water lake.
7) And Gili Trawangan derived its name from the Indonesian word “terowongan” meaning “tunnels” of which a network were dug by the occupying forces during WWII. But the holes have been filled in.
Etiquette Some tips for your visit to the Gili islands:
Always use your right hand when you give, take, eat, touch.
Never point at something with your foot.
When you are a guest, wait until you are invited to sit down.
Remove your shoes before entering a house, shop or any other place.
Never get angry, always try to solve problems with a smile.
The Gili islands are Muslim and sometimes it is inappropriate to walk around in a state of undress, going topless can be translated as lack of respect. Try to put on some clothes once you leave the beach and enter the village.
Restaurants Dotted around the island, casual beachfront cafes and bars serve Indonesian and popular western meals, with fresh fish and wood-fired pizza being Gili Meno specialities. Prices are high though and due to the lack of options it is not easy to find reasonable priced drinks and food. Be aware of big hotels charging you up to 16% tax on top of the already high price in the menu. Snorkeling Like on the other Gilis snorkeling is very popular. There is good snorkeling along the northwest coast and it is often possible to see Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles. To swim with these huge creatures is perhaps the most special underwater experience of all and a major reason for visiting Gili Meno. There is also good snorkeling off the west coast near the abandonend Bounty Beach Resort. Swim out to where the old pontoon has sunk and became a home for many fish. Abandoned Places Gili Meno has not developed as quickly as Gili Trawangan or Gili Air and suffered unpopularity when in the mid 90’s rumor spread that the island has a mosquito problem due to its salt water lake in the middle of the island. This was untrue, but the damage was done. Maybe its due to facts like this that you will find a lot of abandoned or not completed hotels, restaurants or resorts around the island. The most famous one probably are the old Bounty Beach Club Bungalows. This huge resort once had 26 modern and comfortable bungalows, a large pool, bar, restaurant, private beach and its own dock which used to be the main jetty to and from the island. There are plenty of rumors about the history of this resort, some say it was abandoned after the 2002 terrorist bombings dealt a blow to Bali’s tourism industry, while other stories claim that the place was shut down after its owner died unexpectedly. It is quite an eerie experience to explore these old grounds, but be careful – the whole place is falling apart and it might be dangerous. And some even say you should watch out for a man’s silhouette when on the grounds. It may be the owner, back to check on his business.