Having fallen in love with Indonesia whilst travelling through the islands of Sumatra and Java, we decided to come back and explore the next few islands in the chain: starting with Bali before moving on to Lombok and the Gili islands.
The Gili Islands are a chain of three small islands off the north west coast of Lombok. Each island caters for a different crowd. Gili Trawangan is the party island, bustling with beach bars, mushroom milkshakes and a constant party vibe. Gili Meno is the middle island in the three island chain and is known locally as the “romance island.” It is much quieter than Gili Trawangan, and more affordable than the luxury island of Gili Air.
Having spent a few days on Gili Trawangan, we decided to escape the chaos and head to Gili Meno on one of the twice daily “hopper boats”. Much like Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno has no proper roads and is devoid of cars or motorbikes. The main form of transport around the island is horse and cart, but you can also hire a bicycle if you don’t fancy the walk.
The island is small enough to walk around in about an hour and a half. There is a costal track which takes you around the outside of the island, along miles of white sand and coral beaches surrounded by turquoise blue seas and stunning sand bars. Gili Meno is an island which looks like it was custom made for Instagram and there are a number of beaches to chose from, each with its own unique qualities.
Describing locations can be a bit tricky since none of the roads here have names, so I have made reference to the various businesses that operate in each of the locations. Check out the map at the bottom of the post for further details. Here are four of the best spots on the island:
1. The best overall beach
Having walked around the island a few times in the last few days, the nicest beach we found was on the South East side of the island and runs from Villa Nautilus down to Kontiki Cottages. This beach has soft white sand and stunningly blue seas. The waves are gentle enough to be fun and the tide is much weaker than at other points in the island.
There are also a number of swings, tress and rock piles to provide you with that perfect beach snap for your feed. Additionally, there are a number of restaurants just behind the beach making it a convenient place to spend the day.
The water here is pretty clear and the snorkelling is ok, but there is much better to be found at other points on the island. It is however, the nicest place for a relaxing beach day.
2. The best beach for snorkelling:
Having snorkelled all around the island over the last week, my favourite spot was just off the white coral beach with the coral sand bar on the North East of the island. Look out for Ryan’s Cafe which is nearby.
You will know when you get here because it sounds like you are walking on broken china. Rather than sand, the beach is made up entirely of bleached coral. There is a long coral bar stretching out into the ocean, where the water is only a foot or two deep. It really is an amazing place for snorkelling. In the shallow parts over the bar, we saw moray eels living amongst the coral and even a couple of smallish reef sharks. When the ocean got deeper on the other side of the bar there was a wealth of living coral and hundreds of colourful fish. The water here was crystal clear and on par with anywhere we have seen on our travels.
The beach itself isn’t that pretty, and there is no-where to sunbath due to the coral, but there is the cafe nearby to grab a drink and get out of the sun if you want.
3. The best beach for relaxing:
Ok, so just about everywhere on Gili Meno is relaxing and beautiful. But if I had to pick a favourite spot, it would be the South West corner of the island, at a place called Cafe Gili.
Cafe Gili is a restaurant and beach bar and its own private section of the beach which looks over to Gili T. It also has its own fresh water swimming pool, if you decide you have had enough of the sea and it is free to use, so long as you are eating or drinking at Cafe Gili. Because of its secluded spot at the corner of the island, this place was quiet and peaceful. The staff here were friendly and we had an amazing day chilling out here.
Also, you are only slightly down the coast from the shipwreck, which you can snorkel on. You can swim and snorkel at this beach, but be careful, the current can be strong if you aren’t wearing flippers.
4. The best beach for seeing wild sea turtles
So, there were a couple of spots around the island where we saw wild sea turtles, but the the easiest on was found on the east of the island, just off Karma Beach.
Karma Beach is within a hotel complex called Karma Bungalows. The same deal applies here in that if you eat or drink at the hotel, you can also use their beach. However, if you don’t want to do that, you can continue on past the hotel to a stretch of beach just past the old abandoned pier, which was what we did.
We snorkelled here for about half an hour and saw two wild hawksbill turtles in that time. It was amazing to see these creatures in the wild. There were totally not bothered by us and continued eating the plants and the sea grass whilst we watched. But if you do swim here, please don’t chase or pick up the turtles. Just enjoy them in their natural habitat.
Bonus: Best gym in Gili Meno?
So there is no public gym in Gili Meno. If you want to workout whilst on your holiday, there is some outdoor gym equipment at one spot on the island. You can read about it on my travel fitness blog Gyms of the World.
Thank for reading and let me know in the comments if you feel there is anywhere that I have missed!