Gili Meno, Your Tropical Island Paradise
Gili Meno is the smallest of the three Gili islands off the west coast of Lombok, Indonesia. While easily accessible from both Bali and Lombok, Gili Meno offers the small, remote tropical island feel that many are surprised to find unavailable on Bali.
All three of the Gili Islands are extremely small. The largest is just 3km by 2km. You can walk the entire perimeter of each island in a day. Even if your hotel and boat pier are on opposite ends of the island, you’ll never have to walk more than 1.5 kilometres (so, get used to walking).
Only a few thousand locals live on the Gili islands and all three islands are entirely car-free. Other than walking, the only transport is the small horse-drawn carriages. However, we commonly heard that these horses are mistreated, so please avoid using this.
This article will give you a detailed guide to Gili Meno including; when to visit, expected budget, things to do, where to stay and eat, and how to get there.
Gili Islands Overview
Each island is unique and caters to a different traveler.
Gili Trawangan (known as Gili T) is the most developed of the three. It largely caters towards the party backpacker crowd although you can find small, quiet resorts on the backside of the island. The large (relative for a 6 square km island) city center is full of bars, restaurants, and hostels. Its reputation is for the nightly pub crawls and parties.
Gili Air is known as the Goldilocks island because it’s “just right”. It’s’ definitely less of a party/ backpacker scene than Gili T but still offers a good number of bars, restaurants, and things to do. If you’re looking for peace and quiet it can be found on Gili Air but not to the same, laid back level, of Gili Meno.
Gili Meno is the smallest of the 3 islands with less than a thousand locals. This tiny island can easily be walked around in just a couple hours. Gili Meno offers the ultimate small tropical island experience. If you want that small island, remote, and laid-back stop on your trip, this is your pick.
Is Gili Meno for you?
If you’re looking for that small, remote tropical island feel you can’t do better than Gili Meno. It’s not actually remote, you can see the other 2 islands and Lombok from its shores. In theory, you could even swim the distance, but for travelers to Bali or Lombok this is your best option, particularly if:
- You’re a laid back traveler avoiding and/ or taking a break from the nightlife
- You want time to disconnect, snorkel, or relax on the beach
- You want to avoid crowds and have some low key time
Gili Meno is definitely the least visited of the three Gili Islands. It is one of the few places in the Bali-Lombok region where you can truly feel remote and away from mass tourism.
Whether you go for a day trip or spend a few nights it will be a unique and worthwhile visit.
>> Be sure to check out these super laid-back islands
What is the best time to visit Gili Meno?
The dry season is from April to October. As you get into June, July, August, and September the busy season starts so prices will be up. The Gili islands follow the same rain/ tourist season as Bali & Lombok
We visited in April and loved it. Prices were still down and the weather was nearly perfect. Every couple of days we would get a short rain shower but it generally came and went in less than an hour. Most importantly, it was still a low-tourist season so it felt even more remote.
If it’s a good time to visit Bali or Lombok then it’s a good time to visit Gili Meno. Our recommendation is to shoot for the shoulder seasons; between April and June or September and October when the island will be quietest.
How to get to Gili Meno
Bali to Gili Meno: Speedboats depart multiple ports on the east coast of Bali with a travel time of about 2 hours. Tickets are $25-35 and can be booked via tour operators, hotels, or at the port. You can also book here on 12GoAsia in advance. The more expensive boats are a bit newer and more comfortable.
It’s worth buying a round trip ticket rather than two one way tickets. If you don’t have a return date yet you can get an ‘open’ return ticket. You will need to confirm your return date at least one day before you leave the island.
Lombok to Gili Meno: You can see the Gili islands from Lombok, so it’s a short trip across. A small shuttle boat to Gili Meno departs from Teluk Nare Harbour on the west coast of Lombok. The total travel time is about 20 minutes. You can book here on 12GoAsia in advance.
From Gili T and Gili Air: The same shuttle boat to Gili Meno from Lombok does multiple trips a day between the other islands. It’s inexpensive and works great. Just show up on time at the port (ask your hotel for the correct time).
Top things to do on Gili Meno
Walk around the island – like the other two Gili Islands, it is worth walking the perimeter of the entire island to find the best beach spots. We found the best beaches were on the north side of the island, which is wide, secluded, and less developed.
Go snorkeling – there are two well known (and busy) snorkel locations off Gili Meno. Every day dozens of boats bring tourists on multi-stop snorkel tours around the Gili islands. You can book tours from tour agents, your hotel, or directly with the operators. We opted to just do it ourselves.
- Off the North-east point, you’ll constantly see snorkel tour points at sea turtle point. We swam off from the beach and towards the boats. Within 5 minutes we saw our first sea turtle. If you get a good day when the turtles are out you could spend a ton of time swimming with them.
- The second point is off the west coast where there are a bunch of statues underwater. It’s interesting but extremely crowded because all the snorkel tours stop there and it’s a really small area.
- We hit both spots in one day with our snorkels and fins rented from our hotel.
Explore the island by foot – It’s not often you get to spend time on such a small, sparsely populated tropical island. It’s impossible to get lost because the island is so small. The winding roads through the middle of the island give it an enchanting feeling. It does get confusing at night, so be sure you have your phone or a flashlight with you for your evening adventures.
Just relax – it doesn’t get more relaxed and laid back than Gili Meno. No cars, hardly any other people, and beautiful waters in every direction. Especially, if you’re coming from or headed back to Bali, this will be a much appreciated break from the tourist scene.
Top Hotels on Gili Meno
Gili Meno has less accommodation available than the other Gili Islands but still plenty to choose from. Most accommodations don’t have pools because they’re quite small, so keep this in mind when booking. But when you’re never more than a 10-minute walk to the coast so it isn’t necessary to have a pool or stay on the coast either.
There are some hostels in the central part of the island for the budget traveler. The most common accommodation type you will find is the low key thatch-roof bungalows or homestays. Most of these are scattered throughout the center of the island.
We stayed at the more expensive hotels on the island, Seri Resort, and were quite disappointed. We’d suggest opting for one of the bungalows or homestays
Where to eat
For a small island, we had some of the best meals in Indonesia while on Gili Meno. There aren’t loads of restaurant son Gili Meno, but a number of small family-run warungs to choose from.
There are some warungs in the area around where the boats arrive, but the best ones are deeper in the center of the island.
Some of the top places to eat are:
Pak Man Warung – located in the middle of the island and searchable on Google Maps. It is pretty much a few tables someone’s home but has unquestionably the best fried rice in the world. You could visit every day, and eat with a super friendly family.
NO 5 Star – this guy deliberately does not want any 5-star reviews so he can keep his place low key. Sorry to do a disservice, but the food was amazing. Meals have to be pre-ordered so we stopped by to order dinner for the next day and arranged a time. We showed up at 7 the next day, ordered drinks, and 5 minutes later our fresh caught seafood dinner was in front of us. Unique and really good.
Most hotels serve breakfast. If you need some snacks, fruit, or Magnum ice creams then there’s a small grocery store at the port, but apart from these staple foods it’s pretty limited.
How much does Gili Meno cost?
Gili Meno is quite affordable and similar in price to Bali or Lombok. While everything is brought in by boat, it comes from Lombok so it’s only a short boat trip.
Your daily budget for Indo will work well in Gili Meno. Other than the speed boat from Bali there are no major expenses to note.
Expensive hotels go for about $70 per night while smaller guest houses or homestay can go for $40 or less. These are high season rates and can be discounted by 50% during the low season.
Meals at the mentioned restaurants are typically $5 per person and always worth it for the quality and quantity.
The speedboat from Bali is $35. Between the other Gili Islands, the boat is only a couple dollars
Snorkels are around $10 a day when rented from a hotel.
There are two ATMs on the island but quite often neither of the work (as was when we visited). Be sure to bring enough cash to sustain your entire time on Gili Meno.
Jason Kraemer is the co-founder of Flashpacker Co, a lifestyle brand aimed at helping the growing number of global flashpackers get the most out of their adventures. They do this by leveraging experience and resources to create high-quality advice and curate a collection of high-value travel products so that flashpackers around the world can create a new type of travel – experiencing more by sacrificing less.