A Gili Meno Beach Escape

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I’d been wanting to visit the Gili Islands for YEARS (like, over a decade) before I finally made it over there on my recent trip to Bali in December 2023.

In my mind, I was absolutely certain that Gili Air was my island; after all, it’s known as the “chill” island, or the *just right* option between Gili Trawangan (the “party” island) and Gili Meno (the “honeymoon” island).

gili meno beaches

I knew Gili T wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, so I booked one week on Gili Meno and one week on Gili Air (you definitely don’t need that much time for either island, however I love slow travel and I love islands… so for me, the more time the better!).

Plot twist: Gili Meno ended up being my favorite of the Gili islands!

gili meno beach

And contrary to the “honeymoon island” stereotype, Gili Meno is NOT just for honeymooners or couples! I actually saw a few solo travelers and several friend groups visiting the island while I was there.

Gili Meno is the quietest, least developed, smallest, and prettiest of the Gili islands. If you don’t need bougie cafes or nightlife and prefer your islands to be on the more rustic side, it might be your favorite too.

 

Why Gili Meno is my favorite Gili Island

It has the prettiest beaches.

Is this subjective, sure. But y’all know I have a fairly refined beach palette, and I know a quality beach when I see one.

The Gili Meno beaches are gorgeous, boasting the whitest sand and clearest turquoise water out of the three Gili islands. Depending on what part of the island you’re on, the backdrop varies between Gili Air, Lombok, Gili Air AND Lombok, and Gili T – all extremely picturesque.

Also worth noting: the beaches on Gili Air aren’t really swimmable unless it’s high tide. By contrast, there are some Gili Meno beach spots where you can swim at low tide (namely the southeast corner, aka the best beach on Gili Meno).

gili meno beach

Planning a trip to Gili Meno?

These are the sites I use and recommend for booking travel:

Hotels in Gili Meno: Booking.com

Activities in Gili Meno: GetYourGuide or Viator

Travel insurance for Indonesia: Safety Wing or World Nomads

eSIMs & SIM cards for Indonesia: Sims Direct

It’s small, undeveloped, and not crowded

Gili Meno is the smallest and least developed of the Gili islands. You can walk across the width of Gili Meno in 15 minutes, and walk around the entire island in about an hour.

There’s no Grab or Gojek here, no motor vehicles, and very few establishments that accept credit card payments. Most of the restaurants on Gili Meno are small local joints with wooden platforms and plastic chairs set out in the sand.

And best of all, it’s pretty easy to watch the sunset, swim, or even eat dinner without anyone else around. It feels like you’re on your own private island at times when you’re on Gili Meno, which – now that I think about it – surely contributes to the honeymoon vibes.

gili meno beaches

It feels less hot

We spent a week each on Gili Meno and Gili Air in mid-late December. I don’t know if this is a normal thing, but the entire time on Gili Meno it was VERY windy. You could somewhat avoid the wind by going a little away from the water, but most of the time it was too windy for me to fly my drone at the beach.

The plus side, though, is that the wind makes it feel less hot than it is on Gili Meno. I didn’t realized what a difference it made until we were on Gili Air, where there was zero wind and it was a sweaty struggle to walk across the island.

Again, I don’t know if you can say that Gili Meno is *always* more windy, but I have enough data to support the idea that this might be the case.

gili meno beaches

 

Easy access snorkeling

I don’t know about you, but I am approximately 10000x more likely to go snorkeling if I can walk straight off the beach to do it, vs. having to book onto a boat trip that takes me to snorkeling spots.

Snorkelling is a super popular activity on all of the Gili Islands, and Gili Meno has an extensive reef off its west and northern shores. At high tide, you can just walk and then swim out to the reef and snorkel on your own there (don’t worry, it’s safe and not very far).

gili meno snorkeling

Things To Do On Gili Meno

Personally, I think you can’t go wrong just chillin’ on Gili Meno, no plans needed. But if you’re the kind of person who likes keeping busy, there are a few things you can *do* on the island:

Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary

If you’ve ever wanted to ogle baby turtles, you can do it on Gili Meno at the Turtle Sanctuary. There are a few shallow pools on the beach (southeast part of the island) where baby turtles are cared for until they are grown and ultimately released into the ocean.

gili meno escape

Outdoor movie

There are a couple of venues on Gili Meno that do outdoor movies on the beach. One is Le Pirate, on the west side, where we stayed. They do movies every other night just after sunset. Non-guests are welcome to watch, and of course encouraged to order some food/drinks while there. During our stay, they showed The Beach, 50 First Dates, and A Star Is Born.

Another outdoor movie venue is on the northeast corner of the island, I believe it’s Seri Resort. There will be signs on the beach nearby advertising the movie night so you won’t miss it.

gili meno escape

Beach Club

Gili Meno is largely undeveloped and frill-free, yes. But there’s one fancy luxe venue on the island that is SUCH a vibe, so much so that we found ourselves going back again and again.

BASK is a must-do on Gili Meno! Go there, lay out on a lounge bed, order drinks at the swim-up bar, and float around in the stunning infinity pool. There’s a clear view of the beach and Gili T straight ahead, and it’s in prime position for watching the sunset. They have extremely good wood fired pizza, and the staff is super friendly. Just go!

gili meno beach

Snorkeling

As mentioned above, Gili Meno snorkeling is a must-do. Simply walk off the west or north sides of the island and into the reef you’ll go. Gili Meno is known to have a lot of turtles, though sadly I didn’t see any!

There are a few designated dive sites around the island, including the famous Gili Meno statues just in front of BASK. You’ll know where it is when you see day trip boats anchoring nearby.

You can rent snorkel gear pretty much anywhere, either from your hotel or guesthouse or an outlet nearby. It’s about 50,000 IDR (AU$5) per day to rent a mask and snorkel, and a little more if you need fins.

If you want to snorkel all around the Gili Islands (not just Gili Meno), you can book a Gili Islands snorkel boat trip which includes all snorkel gear and possibly even GoPro rental or professional photos.

CLICK TO BOOK A SNORKEL BOAT TOUR AROUND THE GILI ISLANDS

 

gili meno snorkeling

Diving

With such easily accessible snorkel sites, you don’t really HAVE to dive at Gili Meno. But if you’re eager to see further-flung dive sites, dive boats can take you to spots a little further from the island, or even closer to Gili Air or Gili T. Here are a few Gili Meno dive shops to check out:

gili meno escape

Planning a trip to Gili Meno?

These are the sites I use and recommend for booking travel:

Hotels in Gili Meno: Booking.com

Activities in Gili Meno: GetYourGuide or Viator

Travel insurance for Indonesia: Safety Wing or World Nomads

eSIMs & SIM cards for Indonesia: Sims Direct

Horse Riding

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a horse, Gili Meno is an extremely scenic place to do it! You can book a sunset ride on the island via the link below.

CLICK TO BOOK A SUNSET HORSE RIDE ON GILI MENO

Gili Meno Lake

Yes, there’s a saltwater lake in the middle of this small island! You can walk on the wooden pier that goes part way around the lake.

gili meno lombok

Sunset

And of course, you simply MUST stop what you’re doing and head out to watch the sunset every night you’re on Gili Meno. The sunsets from the Gili islands are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world, I think because of the way the light catches the clouds (which were always out during wet season when we were there).

Best thing to do is pick one of the beachfront restaurants for dinner and sit and enjoy the sunset from your table.

gili meno beach

How To Get To Gili Meno

Bali to Gili Meno

To get from Bali to Gili Meno island, the easiest thing to do is book a boat transfer from Padang Bai. Note that not all boats to the Gili islands stop at Gili Meno, so you may have to transfer to a small boat to get there from another island.

The direct boat from Padang Bai to Gili Meno island takes about 2 hours each way and can be a bit bumpy if the water’s choppy (which it often is), so definitely bring some Dramamine if you’re prone to seasickness (I took some and was fine). The boat stops at Gili T, then Gili Meno, then Gili Air. We didn’t need to drag or carry our suitcases through sand at any point, thanks to the piers on either end.

We booked our transfers with Eka Jaya and added on car transfers from Kuta to Padang Bai, and then Padang Bai to Ubud; both transfers were seamless and our drivers both messaged us beforehand to confirm their arrival time, so we were never left wondering or waiting. The drive from Bali Airport to Padang Bai takes about 1.5 hours.

CLICK TO BOOK THE PADANG BAI – GILI MENO BOAT

 

Nusa Lembongan to Gili Meno

To get from the Nusa islands to the Gili islands, you have a couple different options.

Eka Jaya runs one fast boat per day from Nusa Lembongan to Gili Meno which takes about 3.5 hours.

If you can’t book that one, then alternatively you can book a boat transfer from Nusa Lembongan to Gili Trawangan which takes about 2.5 hours. Several different operators run boats on this route, inluding Blue Water Express which has a fast boat from Nusa Lembongan to Gili Trawangan to Gili Air. It does not stop at Gili Meno, so you’d need to transfer to a small local boat to get from Gili T to Gili Meno.

CLICK TO BOOK THE NUSA LEMBONGAN – GILI MENO BOAT

gili meno lombok


Lombok to Gili Meno

Alternatively, you could fly to Lombok and then take a very quick boat ride from Senggigi to Gili Meno or Bangsal to Gili Meno. This option makes sense if you want to minimize boat travel, otherwise I’m not sure if it’s worth the airport kerfuffle to fly from Bali.

It takes 1.5 hours to drive from Lombok airport to Senggigi or Bangsal, and then it’s about 15 minutes by boat to Gili Meno. You can either book one of the fast boats heading to Bali via the Gili islands, or take a private boat transfer to Gili Meno.

CLICK TO BOOK THE BANGSAL – GILI MENO BOAT

gili meno beach


 

Gili Meno Accommodation

Gili Meno is a small island, so no matter where you stay, you’ll be easily able to walk to all the different Gili Meno beach spots and restaurants. Here’s a quick rundown of the different parts of the island and where to find accommodation on Gili Meno:

gili meno lombok gili meno beach

South side / interior – There’s little-to-no Gili Meno accommodation in these areas. I wouldn’t recommend staying here, so I won’t include any guesthouse recs :)

East side – There are some (mostly cheap/rustic) guesthouses on the east side of the island, where the ferry pier is and where the dive schools are. This area could be a good choice for you if you want to be close to the ferry, or perhaps are doing a lot of diving.

West/north side – If you’re looking for a nicer Gili Meno hotel to stay at, I recommend heading for the west or possibly even north side of the island. These areas have more of the “honeymoon” vibe that Gili Meno is known for, and they’re also where the snorkeling spots are located.

gili meno beaches

Cidomos: The Local Transport on Gili Meno

If your Gili Meno accommodation is on the west or east side of the island, it will take at least 15 minutes to walk there from the pier. This is less than comfortable in the heat when you’re carrying luggage. There are horse cart drivers (cidomos) sitting by the pier that are ready and waiting drive you and your luggage to your Gili Meno hotel… but is this ethical?

Honestly, I don’t think we have enough information about how these horses are treated to know for sure. During my week on the island, I never witnessed any animal cruelty, the horses seemed very healthy and well kept, and I noticed that the drivers always kept them in the shade when waiting around.

While my preference would have been to avoid using the horse carriages altogether, we had a lot of luggage – too much to be lugging through dirt/sand roads in the midday heat. So we opted to have our larger luggage driven to our hotel via horse carriage, while we followed on foot with our smaller (more carryable) bags. I figured if we couldn’t avoid it, we should try to at least minimize the strain on the horse.

We paid 125,000 IDR (US$8) for a horse carriage ride from Gili Meno pier to Le Pirate (hotel on the west side of the island).

gili meno beaches

Gili Meno Hotel Recommendations

Budget: Meno Turtle Bungalows, Rabbit Tree Hostel
Midrange: Le Pirate, Seri Resort
Luxury: BASK

We absolutely LOVED our Gili Meno accommodation on the west side, Le Pirate. I could probably write a whole post/love letter about it, it was that great… but for the purpose of this Gili Meno Beach Escape post, I’ll try to keep it short and snappy :)

gili meno hotel
2 of the 3 pools at Le Pirate Gili Meno.

Le Pirate hosts a sizable cluster of huts or beach cabanas, which vary in size but are all on the smaller side. They come with an outdoor bathroom and patio (some are wraparounds, some are just a small slab in the front), and are painted white with turquoise accents – very beach chic and minimalist.

The property is adults only, has *3* aesthetic pools and a restaurant with really excellent (but pricey) food, and alternates each night between a bonfire or an outdoor movie on the beach. We were able to snag a deal and only paid about US$39/night (normally about US$54/night).

CLICK TO BOOK A STAY AT LE PIRATE GILI MENO

gili meno escape

READ MORE ABOUT BALI / INDONESIA IN THESE POSTS:

Planning a trip to Gili Meno?

These are the sites I use and recommend for booking travel:

Hotels in Gili Meno: Booking.com

Activities in Gili Meno: GetYourGuide or Viator

Travel insurance for Indonesia: Safety Wing or World Nomads

eSIMs & SIM cards for Indonesia: Sims Direct

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Gili Meno beach escape: a must-do when in Bali
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Gili Meno beach escape: a must-do when in Bali