21 Days in Indonesia – Day 2 – 4: Gili Meno

Journal three days in Gili Meno.

  • Day 2: From Kuta to the Island. 

8am: as promised to each other we would continue to run for another 3 more days. Despite having little time left on our hand before getting picked up to Padang Bai, we ran longer this time. Markus even taught me the technique to run more efficiently and effectively. Little did I know, it helped me a lot during our Rinjani trip.

10am: Upon checking out, we were informed that our driver would pick us up at 10:30am. Perfect.

10:45am: Hmm, where is the driver though?

11am: Finally Santa Clause came with the big bus and off we went to Padang Bai. The drive took approximately 1.5hrs so we had some sleep and listened to music.

1pm: Padang Bai and the longest wait ever.

With the expectation that upon arrival to the port, we would see a nicely waiting lounge with some air-conditioners hanging around the room; or at least…fans. But nothing. The port was just a port with a walk-way with shelters full of street sellers offering snacks, beers, whatever. Passengers were standing and sitting everywhere: on the floor, on the stairs. Waiting…and waiting…

We were told to wait until 2pm or 2:30pm and always look out for the GREEN boat. Me and Markus were afraid we would miss the boat if it came early so Markus kept walking in and out the port to check. I was lucky though, my job was only to watch the baggage.

2:30pm: Where is the boat?

At this point, I was hungry, tired and disappointed at waiting for such a long time for a GREEN boat. To find some sympathetic companions, we saw a couple sitting next to us carrying the same GREEN boarding tickets, we talked to them. Our waiting gang quickly grew as the opposite group were at the page too. We were not alone in this. Thanks God.

3pm: The moment we saw the GREEN figure far from the ocean, we knew our wait would be over in any minute. Time for CELEBRATION.

Happy Markus!

Another thing we love about travelling by fast boat in Indonesia is SAFETY, there is no safety procedure so we just sat freely on the upper-deck without any seat belt or anything. I would not recommend sitting on the upper deck since it is very windy, sunny, and most of the time, water flashing onto our bodies. But, do it as will. If you do, you will have an amazing view of the entire East Bali from Padang Bai to Amed Beach, mount Agung (highest mountain in Bali), and many many unnamed black-sand beaches.

The ride took about 1.5 hour to reach Lombok, I fell asleep while sun-tanning my belly (the fairest among them all). When we reached Lombok, we were a little confused because we thought we were going to Gili Trawangang. Hmmmm…something must have been really wrong here. As soon as we got our luggage, the guy from SINDEX company told us – a group of 20 people –  to wait for taking a public boat to Gili Trawangan since they were going back to Padang Bai ?!! We were frustrated. It was already 5pm and we got no where near any Gili, let alone, we were going to Gili Meno.

Being so fed up and having no more tolerance for such unprofessional service, we had a quick discussion and decided to split from the group to take care of our own transportation. Markus asked me to watch the luggage and he went to ask about the public boat to Gili Meno, it was 5:40pm and the last boat just went off. There was no more boat to Gili until the following day.

Not giving up yet, at the entrance door of the ticket office, we found a random guy with a private boat whom we agreed with the price for 400,000IDR to Gili Meno. A sense of relief ran across our faces since we were hungry, dirty, moody and exhausted.

Reaching the quiet Island at dawn, we had to walk about 20meters from the ocean to the shore due to low tide, shallow water.

Check out this amazing view from the Meno. What could be better than this?

Our Airbnb – Made & Claudia –  locates in the heart of the island, about 1.2km from the port.  Upon arrival, we were welcome with fruits and cold towels. Claudia was very helpful in showing us the map, where to go and which activity to do.

Here is the map of the Island made by Claudia

Our Bungalow.

8pm: Dinner at Ya-Ya Warung.

As recommended by the host, Ya-ya Warung did not disappoint. Indeed, the local foods were top-notch: affordable, low-key, delicious, friendly service. However, it took approximately 20-35minutes for the foods to arrive. Total cost: 100,000-150,000IDR

After dinner, we walked a little bit to the port and then headed back. We almost travelled for 7hrs.

  • Day 3: Running around Gili, hunting for sea turtles, Exclusive Live music at Diana Cafe

Being woken up by the praying chanting from the loudspeaker of the mosque, I woke up for my usual yoga session at 5:30am.

8am: Eventhough Gili Meno is only 5 kilometers square, it took us more than 1hour to complete our run. Heavily sandy surface with average temperature of 29 Celsius Degrees definitely explained the difficulty we experienced. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it.

9:30am: Breakfast at Claudia place, coffee at Karma Beach Cafe.

Breakfast were served at the main area of Claudia’s place  which was about 5 minutes walk from where we stayed. To our surprise, this main area was a restaurant and had a couple of rooms as well. We met some cool travelers from Europe and listened to their stories when they were in other Gili Islands.

Craving for good coffee, we went to Karma Beach Cafe which was located right down to the harbour. Drinking coffee with such a view across Gili Air and the blueish ocean was true bliss!

View from where we sat.

10:30am: Snorkeling, where are the turtles at? 

Being well-known for having beautiful coral reefs and often, called by the name “Turtle Island”, snorkeling and diving are the most popular activities here. Renting fee for a set of mask and fins was 50,000IDR/day (until 6pm) and most of the booths are not providing life-vest. Thus, it was hassle for us to find one for me – Kelin.

Hunting for turtles was not easy. With little success after spending 3 hours being under the water near to Karma Beach area, we switched to another beach located to the south of Karma Beach (around 15 minutes walk) – Seri Resort area.

This time, we were definitely at the right place. The coral reefs were truly beautiful, the further we swam, the more diverse the marine life. And yes, we swam with turtles, too. Markus was brave enough to touch them but I was not. Maybe they do not bite. But who knows!

5:30pm: Time flew by fast and the sooner we realized, the sky started to turn to pink color and get darker.

6pm: Dinner at Claudia place, cocktails and live music at Diana cafe.

Having dinner at her place as promised, we did not know this little restaurant with a few dining tables and chairs was a true gem. Serving only local foods with a range variety of seafood, grilled dishes on a BBQ pit fired by coconut shell in replacement for charcoal are to die for. Not only the meal was delicious, but also it was cheap, freshly prepared. We were truly satisfied.

During our dining, we were planning for the next day itinerary to Gili Trawangan day trip to do paddle boat and kayaking. So we thought Claudia’s opinion could be helpful. Hearing so many complains about the noise and negative views about the island, we decided to stay around the following day.

Craving for cocktails and something exciting, me and Markus made our way to Diana Cafe across the other side of the harbor – facing directly to Gili Trawangan. Nested in a less traffic area, we spotted Diana Cafe by its Reggae color theme Red, Yellow and Green decoration with flags and banners. The “stage”was just a few chairs surrounded by low tables, bean bags. There was only two of us that night. The cocktails were incredibly good and costed 25,000 IDR. We had 4.  Night changed as song followed by another amazing songs, we could not feel anymore enjoyable than this.

Diana Cafe at night. 

  • Day 4: The West of Gili Meno, Sinking Kayak, Sunset.  

Last day in Gili Meno, we started slow at 10am since we had had a long day swimming in the ocean finding turtles. We went back to Diana Cafe to enjoy some quiet time together.

Me – yoga and Markus – books and his Bintang.

After about two hours being idle, we went down to the ocean for a dip; to which we discovered a much nicer coral reefs over this side of the island. However, since it was definitely a must-snorkel site, there were as well many private snorkeling boats, making it more dangerous to swim around.

View from Diana Cafe in day time.

3pm: Feeling extremely frustrated by the boat traffic situation and in need for new excitement, we walked half-way around the island to find the one and only Kayak place – Karma Beach Resort. Since it was the only the provider, the charge was expensive too. 200,000 IDR/2 hours. We rented it anyway.

Photo taken from Google Images for display purpose- actually boat looked exactly the same.

To our surprise, the Kayak was more like a boat rather than the name itself. It is transparent (so that you can watch the coral reefs below) and very unstable to paddle. I was lucky to have Markus done the steering on this wobbling boat, strong current and windy. Initially we wanted to paddle all the way to Gili Trawangan but with the wind condition, we would not want to put ourselves into danger.

As the tide got stronger and stronger within 1 hour, our energy almost withdrew entirely. 15 minutes of intensive paddling, we only moved less than 10 meters. Also, due to unevenly distribution of weights (I am much lighter), a large amount of water had flown into our boat, increased the higher chance of going upside down if the wave got anymore stronger than it currently was. Eventually, after 30 minutes of fighting the strong waves to go back to the harbor,  we were totally defeat and got our boat sink. The boat itself had buoys attached on both sides, I wore a life-vest, we got no worries whatsoever except losing slippers and snorkeling gears.

Phew, it was something we did not expect to experience but it highlighted the day. Gili Meno and the sinking boat. 

6pm: Sunset watching and calling it a night. 

Walking back to Diana Cafe to return gears, we lingered around the area to watch the sunset. We then went back for dinner at Ya-ya Warung and packed for the next day to Senaru Village – Lombok.

Perfect end for two days full of activities in the Meno. 

Mini guide to Gili Meno:

Although we thought it was great to spend a long time in the island, few things to note if anyone would like to come.

  • The island does not have many restaurants and bars options to choose, you mind end up eating the same places all over again. ( We ate at Yaya Warung for 2 dinners)
  • This island is also not for shopping. The only shops available are convenient shops
  • The busiest area is around the harbor, the further away, the more quiet (extremely quiet) it gets.
  • You can expect to see MILKYWAY.
  • The island is very quiet and has no exciting night life, it suits best for people looking for relaxing time alone, family and probably, couples who love to spend alone time with each other?
  • The island has no street light. Meaning that you will have to use flash lights or phone lights to walk around at night.
  • There are two ATM machines available at the harbor.
  • It is not worth it to go on a private boat day trip to snorkel. There are only a few popular spots and all are accessible from Gili Meno.
  • The island main transportation are bicycles and horses. Bicycles can be rented from many resorts and local shops, horses ride costs about 40,000 – 80,000 IDR/trip.
  • Backpacks, hand carry luggage, sport shoes are recommended.
  • Mosquitoes repellent is a must.
  • Groceries shopping is expensive. A large Bintang was charged 45,000 IDR  in convenient stores while in Bali, you can get it for 30,000 – 35,000 IDR.
  • Gili Meno can be reached by:
    • Daily Public boat : From Lombok cost 17,500IDR /person. The timing is at 9:00am sharp.  From Gili Meno back to Lombok, the timing is at 9:20 am sharp. 
    • Hourly Public boat: From Lombok to Gili Meno and back every hour after 9am cost 85,000 IDR/person. 
    • There will be no more public boat after 5pm. 
    • Private boat: Anytime cost from 400,000-500,000 IDR/trip.

Until then, stay tune for Part 3: Hiking Mount Rinjani: this would be a two-parts posts including Part A: A journal of the hike, the challenges we met along the way and Part B: Everything you need to prepare for hiking mount Rinjani.

Kelin & Markus.

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