Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s three Gilis. It has a population of about 400, mainly concentrated on the center of the island. The main income of the population comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season. Until a few years ago there was also a small production of seaweed on the reef at the north end of the island. It has swimming beaches all around the island, as well as an impressive bird sanctuary.
Only two kilometres long and one wide, Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and by far the most peacefull and under developed. It’s possible to walk around the island along the beach or paths of Gili Meno in under two hours.
Special features of the island are the salt lake and spectacular dive sites such as, Meno Wall, Sea Turtle Point, and Blue Coral Point. The beach on eastern part of the island is very nice and there’s snorkeling just offshore and further north. The interior of the island is mostly a palm trees surrounded by grass which is kept neat by cows munching lazily in the shade. There are no cars or motorbikes on the island; all transport is by horse-drawn carts or on foot. The diving was pretty good, with quite a strong current but that incredible swimming-pool visibility that you get on good days off the islands in SE Asia. The relaxed pace of life and the community feeling on the island is really special.
Most visitors are attracted to Gili Meno for the lure of total escapism and it is therefore very popular with honeymooning couples and adventurous castaway types. The dining scene is predominantly local cafes with grilled fish on the beach as dusk approaches. Lazing around in a hammock, reading books and playing chess with the friendly locals also ranks very highly on the daily Meno agenda.
For divers and snorkellers, the island boasts the infamous ‘Gili Meno Wall‘where during the day turtles freely swim by and giant gorgonian fans hang amongst the colourful corals. At night divers can witness huge Moray Eels and the entertaining Spanish Dancers, baby cuttlefish and a whole array of crustacians.
The most popular stretch of sand on Gili Meno is to be found to the left of where the boats pull up on the beach. This southern beach strip is where the majority of accommodationgetting there beach life on the island is to be found. There are no hawkers to disrupt a day’s sunbathing and the beach huts lining the sand offer a perfect respite from the heat where visitors can buy drinks and snacks from the neighbouring streetvendors.
Snorkelling equipment can be hired from any of the local operators. Swimming is perfectly safe in the calm waters here but don’t venture too far out from the shoreline.
As with Trawangan, visibility is constantly good year round. Expect to see Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles, schools of Batfish, Blue-spotted stingrays and many varieties of hard and soft corals. If you look hard enough you could be lucky enough to find rare and unusual nudibranchs amongst other lesser-spotted micro critters.
Meno’s Bird Sanctuary
Those who simply cannot refrain from some form of activity will find the Bird Park in the centre of the village an entertaining distraction for a morning or afternoon. The Gili Meno bird park hosts over three hundred birds in a natural, free environment. Peafowls, Pheasants, Hornbills, Eagles, Pelicans, Macaws and parrots galore are amongst the feathered citizens and ambassadors gathered from all over the world.
Getting to Meno
Most visitors arrive via Gili Trawangan then jump on a connecting island hopper boat for the fifteen minute trip over the channel.
While the island is busiest from May through August, the quieter off-season from January to April provides a better opportunity to enjoy all the islet has to offer. To get around the isle, the only means of transport are Cidomos, horse drawn carriages. Bicycle rentals are available too. Expect higher prices for most things there since all food and goods must be brought over from the mainland.
Unwind and enjoy a little time in Meno paradise !
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