About Gili Meno
Most visitors are drawn to Gili Meno for the lure of total escapism and it is therefore very popular with honeymooning couples and adventurous castaway types.
The dining scene is predominantly warung fare with grilled fish on the beach once dusk approaches. Lazing around in a hammock, reading books, and playing chess with the friendly locals (who are always willing to strike up a conversation) also ranks very highly on the daily Meno agenda.
For divers and snorkellers, the island boasts the infamous ‘Gili Meno Wall‘ where during the day turtles freely swim by and giant gorgonian fans hang amongst the colourful corals.
Most visitors arrive via Gili Trawangan then jump on a connecting island hopper boat for the 15-minute trip over the channel. Boats depart from Gili Trawangan at 9.30am and 4.00pm daily (approximately IDR 23,000) and from Gili Air at 8.30am and 3.00pm (a twenty minute ride, IDR 25,000).
Visitors from mainland Lombok leave from Bangsal harbour in public boats for the twenty-five minute crossing (IDR 25,000). Purchase tickets only from the concrete Koperassi Karya Bahari building and not from the touts that line the roads into Bangsal.
There are no set timings for the crossing from Lombok to Gili Meno, it’s up to the captain once the boat is full but it is possible to charter your own public boat for a fixed price of IDR 190,000 or buy up remaining available tickets for a speedier departure.
The most popular stretch of sand on Gili Meno is to be found to the left of where the boats pull up on the beach. This southern beach strip is where the majority of accommodation and beach life on the island is to be found. There are no hawkers to disrupt a day’s sunbathing and the beach huts lining the sand offer a perfect respite from the heat where visitors can buy drinks and snacks from the neighbouring warungs.
As with Trawangan, visibility is constantly good all year round. Expect to see Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles, schools of Batfish, Blue-spotted stingrays and many varieties of hard and soft corals. If you look hard enough you could be lucky enough to find rare and unusual nudibranchs amongst other lesser-spotted micro critters. Blue Marlin dive are the only resident dive operator on Gili Meno and offer the same service as other Blue Marlin operations on the Gilis and mainland Lombok. Daily fun dives and PADI courses available all year round.
Although it may not appear so at a first glance there are actually a fair number of places to eat along the beachfront all with spectacular views over to Lombok or Gili Trawangan. Balenta is on the north of the island and specializes in local Sasak cuisine with Mount Rinjani and mainland Lombok as a dramatic backdrop.
Don’t come to Gili Meno expecting to find the top level of accommodation as on Trawangan. The charming Thai style huts on the main beach are very popular as they are the only rooms on all three islands that are situated actually at the water’s edge.
There are not too many activities to be found on Gili Meno, which is part of its appeal. Those who simply cannot refrain from some form of activity will find the Bird Park in the centre of the village an entertaining distraction for a morning or afternoon. The park houses over three hundred birds in a natural and free environment. Peafowls, Pheasants, Hornbills, Eagles, Pelicans, Macaws and parrots galore are amongst the feathered citizens and ambassadors gathered from all over the world. Accommodation is also to be found onsite but most make the trip for the guided tour of the park.
The Turtle Sanctuary plays an important role in protecting and hatching baby turtles for release into the Gili waters. Small donations are very welcome to this worthwhile cause.
Apart from these two pursuits it’s back to tropical beach-combing and book reading activities to whittle away the Gili Meno hours unless you are a surfer as the southeast corner of the island boasts the surf break ‘Secrets’ that sucks up an incredible amount of swell when it’s on. A hollow right up to six foot the wave can wall and provide barrel sections over a frighteningly shallow reef. The mellow surfing crew will show visiting surfers the ropes.