A mini-guide to Gili Meno
A mini-guide to Gili Meno
Gili Meno is by far my favorite island of all three Gili islands located north of Lombok: it is quiet, has really pretty beaches and doesn’t only consist of concrete (by that I mean hotels lining up on the beach, concrete walls built at the beach, etc). Gili Meno is also called Honeymoon Island, so like you can imagine it’s more attractive for families or couples.
Why is Gili Meno my fave out of the three Gili islands?
I did a day trip from Gili Meno to Gili Air and I really liked Gili Air, but not as much as I loved Gili Meno. Gili Air has a certain flair to it with some great lunch and coffee spots, there are a few yoga studios and it’s nice to spend a day there exploring the island. I will post a separate post on my day trip to Gili Air on my blog.
Gili Trawangan is definitely not my favorite – as soon as I stepped out of the boat I could smell the horses’ pee, there was loud music and everyone was trying to sell me something or charge me a boat to Gili Meno for an incredibly high price. Plus, I heard it’s popular amongst backpackers and those who like to party, so this is definitely not the right place for me.
Gili Meno Guide
How to get to Gili Meno from Bali
Like everywhere in Asia, there are many small travel agencies that can plan and organize your trip to the next destination.
Price of the trip
This time our Airbnb hosts brother Krisna, who is a partner at a hostel that works with travel agencies, was so kind to organize the tickets for us since we found travel agencies that offered trips to Gili Meno, but unfortunately, they were heavily overpriced (around 500.000/400.000IDR per person). We then asked Krisna about the normal price and he said he could organize us the tickets for 350.000IDR each, which was totally fine for us. Nevertheless, on our way to the port, we met two girls that paid 250.000IDR at their hostel. So now you know it could be anywhere in between 250.000 and 500.000IDR. My advice would be to go to as many travel agencies or hostels as possible and try to bargain a lower fee.
Route – Ubud to Gili Meno
Our tickets were organized with Putri Travels. They picked us up at 7.30am and took us to the harbor at Padang Bai in the east of Bali. On our arrival, we were given our tickets at the agency’s office (there are different offices, be sure to follow the guide to the right one). As many boats of different companies depart at the same pier, be careful to listen to the guides who’ll shout the name of the boat. It is very crowded and before getting into the boat, everyone has to leave big bags on the upper deck. Fortunately, as we only travel with hand luggage, we managed to bring our backpacks with us inside and save us some crazy decluttering at our arrival on Gili Trawangan. After a smooth ride to Gili T, we were told that we had to wait for another four hours until the connecting boat would take us to Gili Meno – disclaimer, the boat ride from Gili T to Gili M wasn’t included in the price, we found out at our arrival on Gili T. I honestly didn’t want to spend a minute on Gili T taking in the disgusting smells right upon arrival, no no no. We were lucky to find another couple that was willing to share a boat with us to Gili Meno. We found a very friendly guy that brought us to the opposite facing side of Gili T (western part of Gili Meno, not the pier on the eastern side) for 250.000IDR – that around 15€ and totally okay for four people sharing a “private boat”.
Map of the island
I added a self-drawn map of the island at the end of this blog post – I somehow felt the need to give my blog a more creative and personal touch, I hope you like it. I know it’s not perfect, but it I am working on improving my skills. The map includes every place I recommend.
We stayed at MaoMeno Resort which is located in the middle of the island and you can read up about my stay here. As we booked on a short notice there weren’t any affordable bungalows at the beach left. Here’s my review of MaoMeno Resort.
However, there are various accommodations you can choose of, it just depends on the time of booking (we couldn’t find a beach bungalow since we booked on such a short notice). You’ll find more accommodations on the eastern part of the island where the beaches are very pretty. Whilst taking a stroll around the island, the following accommodations were a real eyecatcher:
Eastern part of Gili Meno
- The Island Houses Gili Meno looked like heaven! The fence was quite particular and so it caught my eye while we were passing by on our stroll. I had to peek over the fence and see what’s behind and saw that beautiful house styled so perfectly. It’s a type of architecture style I’d expect to see in Morocco. Definitely worth to check it out – if it fits into your budget. Click here to book.
- Near the Island Houses I spotted this place that looked so familiar to me and I was sure I’ve seen it somewhere on Instagram. Turns out, @emelinaah AND the girls from @welikebali both were at Gili Beach House (according to Airbnb profile, it’s currently under construction until 2020) and so I knew this was an Airbnb. Here’s the link to the Airbnb accommodation.
- Seri Resort comes with a nice beach and sun beds to relax on. The water is quite shallow near the beach, but within a few minutes of swimming outwards, you might be rewarded with spotting some turtles. Their swimming pool offers a great view over the beach. Seri Resort has different types of rooms available, I’m sure there’s something for every type of traveler.
- Karma Reef – walking past their glamping tents located directly at the beach just made me want to switch hotels immediately. For more info click here.
Western part of Gili Meno
- I saw Villa Pulau Cinta when we sat at Sasak Café while we watched the sun go down behind Gili Trawangan. Villa Pulau Cinta is, along this stretch of beach, the only accommodation and so I immediately noticed it with a big pool and beautiful interior. You can book the entire villa via Airbnb.
We were recommended by the staff of our resort to go and try out Mallias Restaurant in the east of the island. They have a nice seating area but also a few huts where you sit on cushions and enjoy your lunch or dinner on a small coffee table. And the best thing about Mallias: they don’t use any plastic! Yes, no straws with your iced tea. They even have their own composting system in the backyard of the house. The prices are just a bit higher than at other restaurants, but the food is reaaally good – so good we went there once every single day! On the menu: rice dishes, curries but also some western dishes. My favorites were the tacos.
After a really good dinner, make sure to stay for a cocktail and enjoy the sunset while watching people stroll by or even some do horse riding at the beach. Happy hour starts at 4pm and you’ll get two drinks for the price of one.
Even though we really loved Mallias, we still had to try out at least one different dinner place and so we went to Sasak Café at the west side of Gili Meno. You can watch the sun go down directly behind the island of Bali and Gili Trawangan. Their dishes are at a really good price and taste delicious, we shared a chicken curry and a stir fry and found that both were really yummy.
Lovely spot to chill near the beach and hide from the extreme midday sun. I usually don’t get sunburnt easily, but just 5min of walking on the beach and my shoulders were gleaming red. Drinks are good at Diana Café, food was okayish but cheap!
Best beach on the island
Just in front of Mallias restaurant is the best swim and beach spot of the whole island with soft white sand and crystal clear water. There are a few corals in the water, so bring your snorkel gear! A bit further north on the eastern side of the island there may be more hotels with their private beaches, but that’s where there’s loads of seagrass. On almost every other place on the island, the beach consists of broken pieces of corals and it makes it very uncomfortable to walk.
Things to do
Take a walk around the island and see the underwater statues
You can stroll around the island within just a few hours and see the underwater statues in the west of the island just opposite of the BASK sign which you can’t miss. When we were there, constructions were just getting started for the BASK accommodation. If you have neoprene shoes, take those with you – the beach consists mainly of broken pieces of corals and it’s very uncomfortable to walk from the beach into and out of the water. Just be aware that in case you want to snorkel a bit further of the statues (which I highly recommend you to do, the reef is very pretty!) there are a handful of boats arriving from Gili T at around 9am to visit the underwater statues and I had the impression that they are not really paying attention to the people snorkeling in the water. I was always scared they’d hit me. But people from the boats hop in, take a few snaps and they’re gone very quickly.
Day trip to Gili Air
Gili Air can easily be visited on a single day if you take the community boat for 35.000IDR per person (one-way) to Gili Air in the morning at around 9.50am after breakfast. You can read more about Gili Air in a separate blog post.
Diving with Blue Marlin Dive
We wanted to go diving around the Gilis and walked in at Blue Marlin Dive near the Gili Meno Terminal Ferry and booked two dives for the next day. Since we stayed on Gili Meno during low season, they were quite flexible and we were the only ones going on the dives with our instructor. In the morning, we visited Turtle Heaven. I have never seen a sea turtle before and on this day I counted more 20 – one bigger than the other, the biggest easily measured (according to my visual judgment, I didn’t bring a measuring tape ^^) 2m in length.
Our second dive was in the afternoon at Air Wall. Visibility wasn’t that great in general, but we saw lots of nudi branches and smaller fish.