Gili Meno instantly gave a completely different impression than the neighboring island Gili Trawangan. Even though I found Gili T less chaotic than expected, Gili Meno was a whole different story. Jumping onto the horse-and-carriage at the pier, slowly trotting our way on the narrow dusty paths towards the northwestern side, I swear I could feel inner peace.
As it is more convenient to have a place booked before arrival, we found Balenta Bungalow Gili Meno online. It looked nice on the photos, but what met us did unfortunately not live up to the expectations. The bungalow was nice, but the restaurant and beach area had a dark feel to it, and the staff were a bit unprofessional, making inappropriate comments. Luckily, we had only booked one night, so I went to have a look at Sunset Beach Bungalows right next door. It was a totally different vibe, both with the people and the look of the area. The restaurant at the beach was cozy with bamboo tables and chairs painted white, with a small picket fence and a few lush green bushes towards the beachfront. For relaxing in the shade, there were “cottages” in the back, half a meter above the ground, providing the little extra breeze.
Blackout with a thousand stars
The Gili islands quite frequently experience power outages. One of the advantages when the power goes out, is that the thousands of stars pop out on the sky above. There is something special about sitting down at the beach, looking up at the stars, listening to the waves roll against the shore. A really calming sensation.
Exploring in the mornings
Waking up with the roosters, we decided to go for a walk around the island before it got too hot. In oppose to Gili T, where the accommodations were tightly packed along the beach, they were more scattered here. They come in all shapes and comforts, from fancy boutique hotels to dodgy rundown bungalows (some could barely even be called that). And all in between, of course!
One morning walking around the island, the next exploring the inner parts. Being awake even before the wind, we were rewarded by a mirroring surface at the island lake. And the early-bird mosquitoes found their reward in me, unfortunately resulting in a shorter stay by the peaceful lake than wanted.
Moving on through the silence, I caught myself being surprised how lush green the island is, even though the rainy season just ended. The grazing kettle looked happy, fishermen were repairing their boats, and a cat sleeping in the sun after washing the dishes.
Under the surface
When in Gili, you simply just have to go snorkeling. You can either go on one of the tours, or go by yourself. We went for the latter option, and later also found out that the tours go to three spots that we could easily swim to our self from where we were staying. Sadly, there is a rather thick belt of dead corals just off the beachfront, obviously with not much to see. Time for a little serious talk; do not stand up on the corals, they will break under your weight, leaving even larger areas broken…
Continuing a bit further out, the underwater landscape change, the corals stand out with different shapes, and fishes of all sizes and colours swimming between them. It feels like laying in the surface of a giant aquarium, just observing the life. Which was more or less what we actually were doing, if you skip the aquarium part. After wading in the surface for a while, I was eager to go for the big fish (read: the giant sea turtles)! Several people had pointed out the north of the island to be a good place to spot them, so we got our legs kicking, slowly drifting through the tempered water. We were almost about to give up when my friend got all winded up, frenetic pointing at something. She had done the same with some colorful fishes in the start as well, but the enthusiasm was slightly different this time. There it was; silently sliding along the bottom. A small kick with its feet sent it graciously forward. What a beautiful peacefulness! Heading back, sliding over the large belt of dead corals was yet another reminder of people’s recklessness (and maybe even unawareness) of the consequences, so please be careful.
Gili Meno is the perfect place for total relaxation. Slow walks in the mornings, beach life and water cooling during the day, and beautiful sunsets at the beach in the evening. A true relaxing paradise!