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Gili Meno – Lombok Island – Indonesia

Gili Meno – Lombok Island – Indonesia

Gili Meno is the meat in the sandwich of the three Gili Islands off Lombok. 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.

Get in
By boat
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.

From Bali
Gili Fast Boat. 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.

From Lombok
Public boats depart from Bangsal at 10AM, 2PM and 5PM. The voyage takes about 30 min. The official price is Rp 15,000 at 10AM and Rp 30,000 at 2PM and 5PM. 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.

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 19,000 (10AM) or Rp 30,000 (2PM and 5PM)
– Gili Meno to Bangsal 1 way is Rp 19,000 (8AM and 3PM)

Shuttle boat
– This service supplements the Public boat (ferry) service.
– Bangsal to Meno Air departs at 5PM, the official price is Rp 37,000.
– (This is more expensive than the standard Public boat cost officially fixed at Rp 15,000).
– Gili Meno to Bangsal is not listed.

Charter boat
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 450,000
– Gili Meno to Bangsal 1 way is Rp 170,000, return Rp 390,000
– Gili Meno to Senggigi 1 way is Rp 490,000, return Rp 350,000

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.

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:

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 30,000
– Gili Meno to Gili Air departs at 4:20PM and the official price is Rp 30,000
– Gili Trawangan to Gilli Meno departs at 9:30AM and the official price is Rp 30,000
– Gili Meno to Gilli Trawangan departs at 8:50AM and the official price is Rp 38,000

Charter boat
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 250,000, return Rp 400,000
– Gili Meno to Gili Air 1 way is Rp 250,000, return Rp 400,000
– Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno 1 way is Rp 250,000, return Rp 400,000
– Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan 1 way is Rp 250,000, return Rp 400,000
– Gili Meno to Senggigi to 1 way is Rp500,000, return Rp 850,000

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.

Get around
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 IDR 300,000

There are several good spots for snorkelling, and gear can be 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 an ATM next to Malia’s Child, but there isn’t much to buy on Gili Meno. If you run out of cash, Blue Marlin is another option for a credit card cash advance, but 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 (there are several ATMs on the main Trawangan beachwalk now, both to the left and to the right from the harbour). Not so wise to try this with afternoon boat, however, if you don’t know where to go and 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 widespread 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, Well prepared wood-fired pizzas are the deal here. edit

– Jali Cafe, 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. edit

– Rust Warung. 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. edit

– Sentigi Café, (200m 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. Breakfast choices are around Rp 10,000. Dinner can be trick according to some travelers, as it sometimes closes very early. However, it is definitely worth a try as the grilled fish is absolutely amazing! If you manage to arrive while it is open 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, (300 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 15,000-20,000. Cheap fish in the form of fish curry can be eaten here for just Rp 10,000 (rice charged separately, Rp 6,000). 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 20,000-25,000, and make a passable job of preparing it. The spaghetti carbonara does not contain ham though,so better ask upfront what the dishes are made of. Fresh fruit juices, quality varies, but generally OK for Rp 10,000, milk shakes Rp 12,000, black/ginger tea and coffee Rp 5,000, Rp 6,500 for milk coffee, large Bintang beer Rp 35,000. 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 5 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.

In the village, you can find a couple of food carts selling bakso for Rp 10,000.

Nightlife is very laid back here, and somedays you might not notice any at all. This is very much the anti-Trawangan.

We Be Bar on the sunset side next to Good Heart Bungalows occasionally has a bonfire and can be relatively lively in high season. Otherwise, you can usually find locals playing guitar and drinking rice wine or Palm wine around the island and they are happy for everyone to join the “party.”

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.