7 Feb 2014

Beach Beautiful Gili Meno

Just a ten minute boat ride from Gili T is gorgeous Gili Meno, of the three Gilis its the smallest and least developed island. Much loved for its extremely laid-back vibe and chosen by many including us as the perfect place to get away from it all for few days to relax. Gili Meno is just 2km by 1km and ringed entirely by silky white sand so you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to finding your own spot of beach. Its so dainty you can do a lap of the entire island in 90 minutes!

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia

We’ve never stayed anywhere as rural or isolated as Gili Meno, its home to only 500 people and there is no fresh water, it all has to be shipped across from neighbouring Lombok. The electricity also comes from Lombok via an underwater cable so there are often power cuts on the island as they try and ensure everybody gets their fair share. To our surprise there was some wifi but it was very sporadic.

Not just a retreat for humans, Hawksbill Turtles love to hang out at Gili Meno too and we were hoping to join them for a swim at the beach. Every morning we rented a pair of flippers and a snorkel each before heading to the southern beaches where the water was calm and crystal clear. 

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"

Unfortunately we didn't meet any turtles in the sea but the colourful coral and numerous tropical fish just a couple of metres from the shore fascinated us, no boat trips are necessary here you can just wade into the sea and the coral is right below you. Amazing!

hawksbill turtle facts gili meno indonesia

Instead we got our turtle fix at the turtle sanctuary where they raise baby turtles until they are one year old and then they release them back into the sea. Its a hard life for baby turtles, only 0.1% survive to adulthood as the eggs often get eaten by ghost crabs, cats etc.

hawksbill turtle facts gili meno indonesia
"Useful facts for your next pub quiz!"

Gili Meno is a Muslim island and we were staying in the centre of the island right next to the mosque and its loud speakers! We soon got to know the praying schedule and were woken most mornings around 5am to the sultry tones of a muslim prayer, unfortunately the guy who sang the second prayer was not so vocally blessed. There must have been about five prayers a day so a couple of days in we found ourselves humming along and humming a solo randomly! Maybe we were we being hypnotised? 

There is definitely a love for music on Gili Meno, most men own a guitar or have a friend who does and they hang out in small groups for a singalong. The guys at our resort The Tropical Hideaway often sang amongst themselves in the evening and were actually pretty good.

gili meno the gilis indonesia
"Essential Bintang and biscuits run in the rain."

As we were visiting during wet season every afternoon we endured a torrential downpour for a few hours so we definitely got our tropical island experience. We were glad we had a concrete bungalow to take shelter in and not a leaky bamboo beach hut, we even had a kettle so we could embrace our British roots and make a rainy afternoon cuppa.

In the evening we would venture out for dinner in the dark when there was a break in the rain, we had to navigate our way around some very large puddles by torchlight and on our second night we learnt that these conditions are ideal for snakes on the hunt for frogs! For such a small island there are quite a few options for food and drink, and each bar or restaurant has an awesome view of the beach. 

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia
"Lunch with a view!"

The resorts and restaurants here are pretty spaced out too, sometimes with a ten minute walk between them, especially on the west and north coast. Here are a few of our favourites that we recommend you visit. 

Maliahs Bar. A casual beach bar thats a great spot for a light lunch and/or when you want a break from the sun. Relax with your book in the shade of their ‘huts’. Its the last bar before you get to the beach south of the main jetty.

Diana Cafe. This tiki bar is definitely home to the best seats and Pina Coladas on the island. As its on the west coast you get a fantastic view of Gili T, particularly at sunset when they also have Happy Hour. 

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia
"The BEST seats on the island!"

YaYa Warung. The best choice for cheap and tasty Indonesian food. A meal for two with soft drinks cost 55K IDR (less than £3). To get there just follow the path north of the main jetty.

Meno Mojo. The next restaurant to the north of YaYa’s has a beautiful setting for dinner and is one of the more upmarket dining options, we really liked their thin crust pizzas.

The Reef. A very stylish bar with cool outdoor seating (when its not raining!). We enjoyed a gorgeous Greek/Moroccan influenced meal and their imported wine list. Its quite pricey but worth the splurge. This resort also has the best bamboo huts we’ve seen so far on our travels.

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia
"A post swim #selfie."

Gili Meno is simply stunning and is a dreamy destination for couples (and solo travellers) who really want a week or two sunny relaxation. New developments are pretty restricted and we only saw one under construction, its quite a mission to get here too but we think thats all part of the appeal. The locals are incredibly friendly, its an everybody knows everybody kind of place and everybody says hello and makes you feel welcome.

beach gili meno the gilis indonesia

They also use the Gili Horse Carriages to get about here but on a much lesser scale than on Gili T and there are some restrictions on weight according to the sign at the main jetty (ie. max two people), we also saw lots of posters promoting the Gili Eco Trust's free horse and cat clinics. However, carriage horse abuse is a major problem on each of The Gilis and we will not return until the conditions improve.

Our only regret on Gili Meno was not having a Go-Pro so we could film and photograph some of the amazing underwater wildlife. Oh well, maybe next time...

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