Gili Meno is the meat in the sandwich of the three Gili Islands off Lombok.
Gili Meno's truly lovely east coast
With a population of just 400, Gili Meno is the mellowest of the three islands, and certainly the most in-tune with a desert island ethic. The beaches are much nicer than you will find on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.
A coastal path leads all the way around the island, and can be covered at a very leisurely pace in 90 minutes. Most of the tourist facilities, including the boat arrival and departure point, are on the southern part of the east coast.
There is a lake on the western side of the middle of the island. This is sometimes quite full, and at others very dry. It is though always very saline.
The sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late-afternoon, well before dark. During periods of southerly winds and in July and August especially, the swell can be a bit hairy and you are very likely to get wet on the crossing. It is advisable to place laptops, cameras and handphones in waterproof bags for the crossing. You will need to wade through shallow sea when disembarking, so wear either appropriate footwear, or none at all.
- Amed Sea Express, . Twice daily high-speed boat service to Gili Meno from Amed on the East coast of Bali. Boats depart Amed at 10AM and 3:30PM with arrivals on Gili Meno at 11:30AM and 5PM. Prices are Rp 600,000 (one-way) and Rp 1,100,000 (return). Online bookings are available.
Public boats depart from Bangsal between 8AM-2PM and are fewer in number than go to Gili Trawangan. The voyage takes about 30 min and the official price is Rp 9,000. Sometimes these services only depart when there are enough people, normally a minimum of 15 is enough. If numbers are insufficient you may have to endure a wait at Bangsal. The boat office at Bangsal should make sure you get dropped off by a Gili Trawangan bound boat if necessary. The official maximum is 20 people but sometimes the boat is overloaded by the time it is ready to depart. The best time to be sure of a crossing to Gili Meno is prior to 2PM in the afternoon however this can vary, especially with weather or passenger loads.
Buy your tickets direct from the official Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari office. In Bangsal this is located inside the main building near the door at the eastern corner. The Koperasi operate the Public Boat, the Shuttle boat, the Island Hopping boat and also offer (official) Charter boats.
There is a ticket office on Gili Meno to buy your ticket back to Bangsal, it is located adjacent to the arrival and departure point.
Public boat (ferry)
- This is the standard method to reach Gili Air and is used by both local residents and tourists. The afternoon boat departs at 2PM, arrive with plenty of time prior to departure to avoid overbooking problems or last moment confusions. The maximum number of passengers is fixed at 20 persons but it is often overloaded with goods and or passengers. If it seems clearly unsafe due to either overloading or prevailing weather conditions then it is most likely best not to board it.
- Bangsal to Gili Meno 1 way is Rp 9,000
- Gili Meno to Bangsal 1 way is Rp 9,000
- This service supplements the Public boat (ferry) service.
- Bangsal to Meno Air departs at 5PM, the official price is Rp 27,000.
(This is more expensive than the standard Public boat cost officially fixed at Rp 9,000).
- Gili Meno to Bangsal is not listed.
- The official charter boat service provided by Koperasi Angkutan laut Karya Bahari is permitted to carry a maximum of 12 persons.
- Bangsal to Gili Meno 1 way is Rp 170,000, return Rp 320,000
- Gili Meno to Bangsal 1 way is Rp 170,000, return Rp 320,000
- Gili Meno to Senggigi 1 way is Rp 490,000, return Rp 690,000
- Informal and unofficial charters are also available from private operators to travel from Bangsal to Gili Meno. If requiring one try to deal only with the boat operator, ignore the touts and 'facilitators' and use your time over a negotiation, any hint of haste or urgency is sure to raise the price.
Perama  has a tiny office ☎+62 370 632824 on Gili Meno at Kontiki Cottage. They offer daily transfers to and from Senggigi, but these may not run direct outside the peak seasons, and you may be diverted to Gili Trawangan.
Departing from Bangsal to either of the three Gili islands is rarely pleasant due to the very persistent touts who infest the place, just try to ignore them and do not listen to their generally fanciful tales that involve you paying them money to solve an imaginary transportation problem. They often provide a chorus of gloomy predictions regarding the alleged unavailability of services, then if successful they just place unknowing passengers upon the normal scheduled service or a private charter at an often seriously inflated prices.
The situation arising from the activities of pestering touts combined with confusing and inadequate formal services at Bangsal is the source of many disappointments and complaints.
From Gili Trawangan and Gili Air
To move from one island to another the formal procedure is to take the Public boat (ferry) to Bangsal and then a further similar ferry to the required island departing from Bangsal. To return the reverse is required. This can be confusing and co-ordinating the timing with the connecting boat departing from Bangsal may be either difficult or elusive. There is also a limited official inter-island Island Hopping service provided.
Ferry operators may sometimes enter into informal arrangements with passengers to journey inter-island. In this situation a passenger boards a boat that is meant to go directly to Bangsal from one of the three Gili islands but instead it detours and sets down on the beach at another island whilst en-route. The prices are a movable feast but people will normally pay a price of around Rp 25,000. Inter-island access on the public boats in this manner is dependant upon timing, weather, loading, payment and the inclination of the crew to facilitate an inter-island journey and such arrangements are not officially sanctioned. The standard procedure is to travel to Bangsal and make a separate trip to the different island or to use the very limited official service. The price for a single journey Public Boat ferry journey from Gili Trawangan is Rp 10,000 and Gili Air to Bangsal is Rp 8,000. The price for the subsequent Public boat to Gili Meno from Bangsal is Rp 9,000, this assuming the required connection was made at Bangsal.
Official tariffs and schedules
The tariff for all Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari services was last set by decree of the Regency of West Lombok in May 2008. This koperasi now falls under the new jurisdiction of the Regency of North Lombok.
Departure and arrival times may vary due to operational conditions and other random factors such as loading times and delays arising from waiting for sufficient numbers of passengers prior to departure. Overloading may occur and caution should be exercised if considering boarding or travelling on an overloaded boat. If there are too many people requiring transport they may be left behind and a substitute service may or may not be available. Try to limit your dealings to official koperasi personel only and avoid entering into any discussions or negotiations with local touts and facilitators. Only a few of them will be of any assistance at all and most will endeavour to confuse the traveller so that they accept an inflated price for the provision of an existing service. Do not buy tickets from anyone other than an official ticket seller.
Official Koperasi services include:
- Public boat
- Shuttle boat
- Island Hopping boat
- Charter boat (Koperasi)
Island Hopping boat
- A limited formal Island hopping boat service is provided by Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari, this is the same local koperasi (maritime transport co-operative) that provides the Public Boat ferry service.
- Gili Air to Gili Meno departs at 8:30AM and the official price is Rp 20,000
- Gili Meno to Gili Air departs at 4:20PM and the official price is Rp 20,000
- Gili Trawangan to Gilli Meno departs at 9:30AM and the official price is Rp 20,000
- Gili Meno to Gilli Trawangan departs at 8:50AM and the official price is Rp 23,000
- The official charter boat service provided by Koperasi Angkutan laut Karya Bahari is permitted to carry a maximum of 12 persons.
- Gili Air to Gili Meno 1 way is Rp 170,000, return Rp 290,000
- Gili Meno to Gili Air 1 way is Rp 170,000, return Rp 320,000
- Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno 1 way is Rp 190,000, return Rp 350,000
- Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan 1 way is Rp 195,000, return Rp 350,000
- Gili Meno to Senggigi to 1 way is Rp 490,000, return Rp 690,000
Informal private charters are also available. Prices are subject to negotiation, take your time over the process as any perception of urgency or haste will no doubt increase the price.
It is hard to imagine why anyone on Gili Meno would want to do anything other than walk. Do just that, slowly. Horse carts (cidomos) are available though, and are useful for getting you and your bags to and from the boat landing. A single trip may cost Rp 20,000-30,000.
- Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary, . 8AM-6PM. A splendid initiative whereby green sea turtle and loggerhead turtle eggs are collected, hatched, and the younglings safely released into the ocean. In 2008 and 2009, a total of 2,000 turtles were released. Go along, see the work and lend your support. Donation.
- Taman Burung (Bird Park), ☎ +62 370 642321. 9AM-5PM daily. Sadly, this aviary is not as well kept as it was, and the formerly very popular komodo dragon died in 2007. Still worth a visit though, with a large range of birds present. Rp 50,000.
- Blue Marlin, ☎ +62 370 639980 (email@example.com), . Full dive shop operation, with the same range of PADI courses and fun dives as are offered on the other islands.
- Divine Divers, ☎ +62 852 40570777 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Small very personal dive school. PADI courses available, known for their personal approach.
- Gili Meno Divers, (southeast coast), ☎ +62 878 6536 7551 (email@example.com), . 9AM-6PM. French and Spanish PADI and SSI diving resort with bungalows.
There are several good spots for snorkelling, and gear can hired at almost any cafe or hotel for about Rp 30,000. The beach in front of Good Heart Cafe on the north western shore is as good as any, and you have a reasonable chance of seeing turtles in shallow water here. Also on the west coast, try the area close to the disused, derelict jetty (formerly the landing point for the equally derelict Bounty Resort). The former pontoon here was sunk and has become an important dive site with a healthy reef life. If you snorkel off the east coast, be careful of boat traffic.
A gentle stroll around the coast path of Gili Meno is not to be missed, and it is probably the nicest walk anywhere on the three islands. If you do this in the morning, there is no real preferred starting point. It is a nice idea to walk in the late afternoon, starting in the northwest at about 4:30PM, taking it easy to walk all the way around the island in either direction, returning to your start point at about 5:45PM. Then get yourself set for sunset behind Gili Trawangan (6:15PM-6:45PM).
There is no ATM, nor is there much to buy on Gili Meno. If you run out of cash, Blue Marlin is probably the only option for a credit card cash advance, and they charge a 7% commission. Alternatively, head to Gili Trawangan or Gili Air where there are ATM's. Hint: As the boat from Meno waits around 25-30 min on Trawangan before going back to Meno and Air, you have a chance to return on the same boat (the ATM's on Trawangan are around 10 min walk north of the harbor). Not so wise to try this with afternoon boat, however, if you do want to come back same day.
Unsurprisingly, fish is the go here and many cafes set up a seafood barbecues every evening. Just choose what you want and wait while it is cooked over an open wood grill. The other widesperad option is wood-fired pizza which has become something of a Gili Meno speciality.
Most of the cafes are clustered in the southern half of the east coast and many are attached to hotels. After you have ordered, be patient as nothing happens very fast here. That is all part of the charm of the place.
- Aroma Cafe, ☎ +62 370 622 007. Well prepared wood-fired pizzas are the deal here.
- Jali Cafe, ☎ +62 370 639 800. Serves Sasak food and it is quite authentic. The chicken curry is excellent, as is the obligatory fish barbecue every evening. The old Gili Island ethic is very much still alive here. Expect the locals to be strumming a few Bob Marley tunes.
- Rust Warung, ☎ +62 370 642 324. Probably the best known eatery on the island, and the one that attracts some sort of crowd, even when there are few visitors around. Fresh fish everyday, and as elsewhere on Meno, there is no real need to even think about eating anything else. Rp 20,000-100,000.
- Sentigi Café, (150m north of the boat landing). A delightful shack with three huts in front of it. Sentigi Café is marginally pricier than Yaya Warung, but the service is (relatively) fast and the food quite good. Fruit juices and milkshakes, for approx. Rp 10,000 and Rp 15,000 respectively, are an excellent choice. Don't count on having dinner here, as the place generally closes quite early, sometimes as early as 5 p.m. However, if you can get here before it closes and order some food, you are free to sit at the huts all night if you want to. This place is not as well-known as Yaya Warung, and so you will be absolutely alone here after dark. Just the place if you are looking to avoid all human contact or to have a quiet (or loud!) night with your partner. You cannot see the sunset from here, though.
- Yaya Warung, (100 m north of the boat landing). If you're really budget traveller, or just hate tourist rip-offs, this is the place on Meno for you to eat. On the beach, but modestly priced, most Indonesian food is Rp 7,000-13,000. Nasi goreng is Rp 10,000, nasi goreng spesial (with chicken) Rp 13,000. Cheap fish in the form of fish curry can be eaten here for just Rp 10,000 (rice charged separately, Rp 4,000). Grilled fish, as a popular tourist dish, costs much more, but is still relatively cheap (especially compared to Gili Trawangan) at around Rp 40,000 per serving, including nasi goreng and vegetables. Choose your fish and let Yon cook it on the open fire. If the fish or Indonesian food all get too much, they have a small pasta menu for Rp 15,000-20,000, and make a passable job of preparing it. Fresh fruit juices, quality varies, but generally OK for Rp 7,000, milk shakes Rp 8,000, black/ginger tea and coffee Rp 5,000, Rp 6,500 for milk coffee, large Bintang beer Rp 28,000. Sometimes very slow service as there's only one cook working there and the place is very popular. A chat with the owner and the view will distract you. They have 3 small huts and those get occupied first. Several tables with chairs are put outside in the evening if it isn't rainy. Rp 7,000-40,000.
Nightlife is very laid back here, and somedays you might not notice any at all. This is very much the anti-Trawangan.
There is a range of accommodation on Gili Meno ranging from simple beach huts to villas and a new luxury Boutique resort. The prices here start from beach huts from around Rp 100,000 (less if away from the beach in the village and not during the peak season) per night up to prices in dollars for the hotels. Some places offer fresh water and A/C others just offer a fan. You can find something to suit all requirements on the island and generally most places are quiet and relaxing.
Looking back to Lombok from Gili Meno's southeast coast
- Rawan Indah, (2 min walk from the eastern coast, south of the harbour). Budget huts with bathroom using fresh water in the shower. This place used to offer cheaper accommodation but since merging Tunai they offer huts for Rp 100,000.
- Tao Kombo, . These budget bungalows away from the beach have been around a long time. They are a bit worn and distinctly rough and ready, but that does not seem out of place on Gili Meno. Probably the most popular backpacker option on the island. Backpacker huts from €8, bungalows from €20.
- The Sunset Gecko, ☎ +62 813 5356 6774, . A Japanese owned small resort, with a couple of cabins and one beachside family house. Rooms are simple and clean with a great atmosphere and they do their best to be eco-friendly. Located in the north-west part of the island, a bit far from the harbour, but facing Trawangan and the sunset. Rp 70,000 (single)-Rp 350,000.
- Amber House, ☎ +62 813 3757 9728. Popular circular bungalows on the north coast. Set back from beach in a very quiet spot. A good choice if you really want to be away from it all. From Rp 250,000.
- Biru Meno, ☎ +62 813 3975 8968, . Nice quality bungalows on the south coast, with verandahs and decent bathrooms. About a 10 min stroll from the boat loading point. From US$30.
- Good Heart Bungalow, ☎ +62 813 3955 6976, +62 878 6535 1922, +62 370 641630. Bungalows with fresh water, Western & semi open bathroom. Clean, with a sunset oriented view. Grilled seafood and Indonesian food served on the beach. Nearby to snorkelling & diving area. From Rp 300,000.
- Hotel Gazebo, ☎ +62 370 635 795. The 10 individual cottages here are a bit run down, but the location near the southeast beaches is very nice indeed. Choice of fan or A/C rooms. Has a communal pool right by the beach. US$49-75.
- Kontiki Cottage, ☎ +62 813 4725 9842 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Good location on a nice section of the beach. You might also wish they had thought about the design a bit more, and tried a lot harder. The cheaper rooms are fan-cooled and there is premium charged for A/C. Fresh water transported from Lombok mainland, mosquito net and spring bed. Free breakfast served in the restaurant. International and local menu, pizza, sea food and BBQ. Rp 275,000-500,000 (seasonal prices).
- Malia's Child, ☎ +62 370 622 007. Thatched roof bungalows on the east coast near the boat harbour. Right on a lovely stretch of white sand beach. From US$40.
- Royal Reef Cottages (formerly Janur Indah), ☎ +62 370 642 340. Thatched roof bungalows set in nice gardens very close to the boat landing. Each bungalow has its own little private terrace and ceiling fan, but no A/C. A few steps from here and you are on the beach. From US$38.
- Mahamaya Boutique Resort, West Gili Meno (sunset side of the island), ☎ +62 817 733444, . checkin: 12noon; checkout: 10AM. Idyllic beach setting, 2 beach-front villas with direct access onto the beach and views from the room. Modern eco-technology has been applied to reduce the carbon footprint including rain collection systems and water recycling. Modern quality furnishings, large beds and outdoor showers. Welcoming place and it offers something different on Gili Meno. They also have a modern asian beach-front restaurant producing tasty local food. The chef has over 10 years international experience. Their funky bar also serves two for one on sunset cocktails 6PM-7PM. from US$150.
- Villa Nautilus, ☎ +62 370 642 143, . 5 detached villas which are fairly well appointed. Guests might wonder why they fitted those ugly tiled roofs when such good natural materials are available. Still, a nice enough option. From US$73.
There is small, simple clinic with an attendant nurse in the middle of the island next to Taman Burung. While this is fine for dealing with a minor ailment or injury, any visitor with a more serious problem needs to get back to Lombok, or better Bali, as quickly as possible.
There is a public telephone office (wartel) with a painfully slow internet connection (outrageous Rp.30,000 per hour), adjacent to the boat landing on the east coast. Seems to be closed during the low season, however.
Indonesian GSM operators (at least XL, Telkomsel, and 3; Indosat has a signal too) have their towers standing at Meno, obviously to cover Air and Trawangan on either sides. As such, signal strength is excellent here, much better than on Gili Air, as well as internet (EDGE) connection speed. So, if you have you own laptop/smartphone - bring an Indonesian SIM card (unlimited access, as of 2011, costs Rp.38,500 to 150,000/month, smaller traffic-based or daily/weekly packages are available too). Do not forget to load enough money before arriving - the nearest place selling top-up cards seems to be Gili Trawangan, and sellers there tend to charge huge (up to 50%) commission. As of February 2011, Indonesian operator "3" (which offers cheapest monthly Internet packages), while have covered Gilis just recently, had fairly good EDGE speed on Meno, while more expensive Indosat was painfully slow. This can change in the future, however, due to heavier local usage and/or changes in coverage.
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