The smallest of the three Gili islands, Meno has a reputation as the most couple friendly of the three islands and the least developed. Our experiences showed that whilst this is all true, the pace of change on Meno seems incredibly high and so it seems unlikely to remain this way for long.
As with Gili Air, there are a range of accommodation options on the island to suit various tastes and budgets, albeit a small quantity (recognising that this is the smaller of the trio of islands). That said, the number of high end resort-like hotels on the island is far more prominent, with lots of real estate (such as beach front villas) being built for sale to wealthy overseas visitors.
Given our budget and needs, we stayed in a reasonably priced bungalow chalet with our own bathroom about five minutes inland called Smile? bungalows. These are typical of the accommodation within the budget range on Meno, with optional extras such as WiFi and air conditioning available if you’re prepared to pay for it.
Top tip: if you’re staying on Meno (or any of the Gilis for that matter), it’s worth ensuring you have a torch or mobile-phone equivalent handy if you’re going to be out and about after dark. While we were there, a storm on Lombok took out the power to all three islands and you don’t want to try and navigate pitch black dirt tracks from the coast back to your accommodation if you can avoid it!
Things to do
Out of the three islands, Meno is considered to have the best water and beaches for swimming, snorkelling and diving. This reputation is well deserved and reflects the fact that many of the diving and snorkelling expeditions from the other islands visit here as part of their itinerary.
Staying on Meno will give you an opportunity to partake in these expeditions from a smaller but no less quality range of dive companies on the island. We didn’t though, as we opted to hire a snorkel for just 20 0000 IDR for the day and walk off the beach into the tropical waters off turtle beach. This name is well deserved, as we observed two wild turtles swimming less than 200 m off the beach, even being lucky enough to see and hear one rise to the surface and catch a breath! This was the icing on the cake for an amazing snorkelling experience that allowed us to see hundreds of fish and coral examples from dozens of different species. Snorkelling should be on your itinerary during any Meno visit.
Beyond the water based activities, Meno boasts some of the best beaches on the Gilis which provide excellent places to sun bathe (if that’s your fancy) or you could wander around the island. A leisurely stroll along the beach will take no more than two hours to complete a full loop (it is really that small!). Along the way, towards the Southern end of the island (head out of the harbour anti-clockwise to get there quick) and you’ll come across the turtle sanctuary. Here you’ll find dozens of little turtles, rescued by a local lady as abandoned turtle eggs, growing until they’re eight months old without significant human contact before they’re returned to the wild. It is quite an awesome sight to see so many little turtles in such a small space.
Eating and drinking
Being smaller, than is a more limited range of restaurants and bars on Gili Meno but they still have an extensive range of cuisine available on the island.
Coming across on the morning boat, we opted for brunch at the Yah Yah Warung located North of the island, enjoying a hearty meal of omelettes and scrambled egg on toast – delicious.
In the evening, we went to the Russ restaurant and enjoyed a range of Indonesian favourites including Mie Goreng and Indonesian Curry which were both hearty and satisfying. This traditional fare was a choice rather than by limitation – we equally could have had pasta, pizza, burgers and a range of other Western meals should they have taken our fancy at the time. Another plus for the Rus restaurant is that this was owned by the family with the mini-supermarket on the island. Literally like a high street express shop back in the UK, you could pick up really fresh fruit and vegetables or branded Western goods. Additionally, you could buy toiletries and other household found on the shelves in the UK without an excessively high price tag (which really surprised us). We used this to stock up on snacks and water supplies for the journey to Bali, taking advantage of the late closing and early opening hours to full effect!