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Published: November 12th 2015
There are three Gili islands which technically belong with Lombok rather than Bali. They all have distinctly different characters. Gili Trewangen, the largest of the islands, is a party destination. Gili Air was the first of the islands to be settled and is still busy but apparently has more of a local and backpacker flavour. Gili Meno, the smallest of the islands and our chosen destination, lends itself to tranquil Robinson Crusoe getaways.
Our journey to the island was somewhat awful though. There are numerous fast boat companies that offer transfers from the mainland to Gili Trewangen and to Gili Air. The coast around Gili Meno must be too shallow for speed boats to moor, so you need to disembark at Gili Trewangen and catch another boat to Gili Meno.
We had known about this and purposely booked a fast boat ticket that included onward travel to Gili Meno. Unfortunately we were not aware that we needed to confirm that we still required the second boat to Gili Meno. Therefore the journey from Padangbai to Gili Meno took us a whopping 5.5 hours and much stress and negotiation upon arrival on Gili Trewangen. Once we
got there, we swiftly confirmed our return journey to avoid any further confusion.
Gili Meno is an absolute treat of a destination. Big thanks to Rachel and Belle who highly recommended coming here! It takes less than two hours to circumnavigate the island which features a variety of bungalow-style accommodation and a couple of resorts, mostly along the east coast, not too far from the harbor. We stayed at Seri Resort, which has been in business for about 1.5 year and part of which is still being built. What a gem: a three-level colonial style building with beach bungalows and garden rooms, it has its own stretch of white sandy beach white complete with sun loungers, a beautiful pool, clean whitewashed rooms, yoga classes twice daily, spa services, and a really great restaurant. And the gracious staff are an absolute delight.
Meno has a central salt water lake which is quite nice to see, and a turtle sanctuary which we didn’t visit. There is also a mosque as (unlike Bali which is 90% Hindu) the main religion on Lombok and the Gilis is Islam. There are no motorised vehicles on any of the Gili
islands and the only forms of transport are horse carts and bicycles. When I say horse carts, they are not the regal type that you find in larger cities. Instead, they are tiny little carts which are a bit of a (fun) adventure to ride in. There are no ATMs and even the fresh water for the plumbing on the island is brought over from the mainland
For the next three days, we thoroughly enjoyed. We went for a walk around island (stupidly in the midday sun – unsurprisingly we were the only crazy people out and about at that time), practiced yoga with the lovely Becca from Sweden and the lovely Anna from Germany, had a massage, ate heaps of delicious food, snorkeled and went scuba diving. We dove the Shallow Turbo, Meno Wall, Mayan Slope and Dean also dove the Bounty Wreck). There is so much sea life to see including green turtles, triggerfish, razorfish and a few of my favourites: nudibranches! Thanks to Divine Divers for the fun times.
We’d highly recommend a couple of eateries on the island. First of all Seri Resort: they had the most amazing menu from
steak to authentic Indonesian dishes. We really enjoyed our first dinner there at a candlelit table on the beach. Just beautiful. Secondly: Blue Coral. This little family-run Warung serves authentic fresh Indonesian food with a friendly smile. They also had a lot of cats – who were very interested in our chicken curry!
The cats in Indonesia look quite different to western domestic cats. They are skinny with a small stature and long legs. They also have a very short tail with a hooked end. At first we assumed that their tails had been cut off but then we learnt that they are born that way, so it must be their genetic makeup.
We really relaxed ourselves senseless on Meno. It was just what the doctor ordered. The only downside to our stay on Meno was that poor Dean got sick with a fever one evening, but he managed to sleep off whatever caused it. Our last morning on the island was spent snorkeling at Turtle Point (where we came close and personal with a sizeable green turtle), breakfasting and chilling out. Then we got a horse cart back the harbour and had a
refreshingly uneventful journey back to Padangbai and onwards to our last destination on the trip, Sanur.
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