Gili Air & Gili Meno

Our visit to the 2 paradise islands off the Bali coast

After a few days in Kuta in Bali, we really looked forward to the paradise islands of Gili Air and Gili Meno.

Gili Air & Gili Meno boat tickets

We had been recommended Gili Air island, which was supposed to be a cross between Gili Trawangan (party island) and Gili Meno (the almost deserted island).

→ You can read about the difference between the 3 Gili islands here

The day before departure, we had spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to get to the Gili Islands the cheapest.

Prices varied a lot, and it certainly wasn’t cheap. I wrote to several companies hoping to get the price down – unsuccessfully.

After hard negotiations in a small local tour shop, we got the price down a bit. They were purchased for IDR 400,000 per person t / r incl. pickup at our hotel.

Transport to the Gili Islands

We were picked up from our hotel in Kuta (affiliate link) in a minivan, which drove us to the “boat pier” in Panang Bai.

A trip that takes approx. 1-1.5 hours drive, depending on stops on the way.

The rain was poured down as we were dropped of amidst a chaos of backpackers, vendors of all kinds, ticket sharks, chicken in baskets etc.

Here we had to wait until we were told when it was time to go to the boat – It didn’t happen until approx. one hour later.

EVERYTHING we owned was soaked in water and the mood was definitely not good.

The transfer to Gili Air took approx. 3 hours incl. stop at both Gili Trawangan and Lombok.

We got some “lovely” seats next to the toilets and had 3 hours with the smell of urinary balls to look forward to.

Fortunately, the first stop was Gili Air. However, there was little turmoil on the pier as it turned out our luggage was registered to go to Gili Trawangan.

The crew on the boat tried to persuade us that they should continue with our luggage and then come back with the it afterwards.

We certainly weren’t interested in that, and after some protests (there were others than us) we finally got them to unload our luggage.

Gili Air

Nusa Indah Bungalows Resort

Finally, we had arrived in paradise – an island without motorized vehicles and roads only paved with sand.

Gili-Air-&-Gili-Meno-hestevogn

Quickly we got on 2 horse carriages and drove to “Nusa Indah Bungalows” (affiliate link) – the resort we had booked the night before.

A really fun, cozy and medieval experience to be transported in a horse carriage.

The ride took approx. 10-15 minuts at a cost of 100,000 IDR

Nusa-Indah-Bungalow-gili-trawangan

For the next 3 days we were staying at Nusa Indah Bungalows (affiliate link).

Real Balinese-style bungalows, located on the northwest side of the island – and with Gili Air’s absolute best beach.

In fact, I think we were the only ones staying at the resort these days.

→ Read our review of Nusa Indah Bungalows HERE and find prices HERE (affiliate link).

The beach next to the Nusa Indah bungalows we had pretty much for ourselves, but was within walking distance to other smaller resorts and restaurants.

Watch our little video from the beach at Nusa Indah Bungalows.

It was also on this beach that we experienced the most beautiful sunset.

Each afternoon, we found new sunset spots where the scenario should be enjoyed with either an exotic drink or cold beer.

Solnedgang-gili-air

Three days were spent snorkeling among beautiful corals and colorful fish and walks up and down the sandy roads, where we each day found new exciting places to eat.

Watch our little mood video with the sunset from the beautiful beach.

Sunrise Resort

After Nusa Indah Bungalows we thought it would be fun to stay in a new area on the island and one with a little more activity.

Online we found the resort “Sunrise Resort” (affiliate link) located on the southeast side of the island.

On TripAdvisor, the resort had got some really good reviews and the pictures looked amazing.

We booked 3 days – a little more expensive than some of the other places we had stayed, but still not overly expensive.

Ankomst-sunrise-bungalow-hestevogn

Wauw… we arrived by horse carriage and already from the road we could sense the atmosphere of the resort but also in the area.

We looked forward to staying in lovely 2 storey Balinese bungalows – it couldn’t be more exotic.

Bungalow-paa-sunrise-resort

→ Read our review of Sunrise Resort HER and find prices HERE (affiliatelink)

The beach life at Gili Air

The southern end of Gili Air is somewhat more lively than the northern end.

Lively in the right way – everything takes place in a very relaxed way aand with a good atmosphere among both locals and guests.

Along the beach road there are several dive centers, small specialty shops, mini markets (which are not cheaper with eg beverages than the hotels).

There is also a good selection of restaurants, ice cream & pancake houses and a few bars, but by no means with the same volume on the music as on Gili Trawangan.

Gili-air-bar

In several small shops, snorkelling trips, day trips to other islands, trekking etc. can be arranged.

Despite being on an island, everything can be done. Everywhere you see signs with distances and tour offers for everything like waterfalls, rafting in Bali, surfing in Lombok etc.

We rented bikes for a day and went on the 5km bike ride around the island.

Keep-smiling-gili-air

We drove off in the afternoon and took the entire trip around the island, plus across the island.

The center of the island is home to the locals, and you will also find some smaller resorts and good local restaurants.

A wonderful ride that wasn’t easy to access all the way – cycling in sand can sometimes be a challenge.

Before we got back to our resort, it was dark.

Fortunately, we managed to avoid the biggest gaps in the road, with a couple of phones as a flashlight.

Cykler-gili-air

We loved Gili Air and therefore decided that Gili Meno should only be visited on day trips rather than staying there.

Gili Meno

Gili Meno is no further away than you can sit on the beach at Gili Air and look at the island.

Drinks-sunrise

An early morning, we went down to the pier, and got on the local “public boat” to Gili Meno. The boat trip took approx. 15 minutes and at a cost of IDR 23,000.

About Gili Meno we’d heard that it was the most quiet island of the Gili Islands – a real Robinson Crusoe island. And it should also be the island with the highest probability of swimming with sea turtles. And the island with turtle sanatorium.

gili-meno-strand

Again wow …. Gili Meno is definitely the most beautiful of the 3 Gili Islands. The beaches with the crystal blue water are more stunning than you can imagine.

Gili Meno is also the island with the best and most beautiful snorkeling.

Just as we were arrived with the boat, we were greeted by some locals who offered us guided tours around the island. We refused.

Gili Meno is the smallest of the islands and in less than 1 hour you can walk all the way around it.

Support the turtle sanatorium

It was an excellent choice – we didn’t walk much more than a couple of 100 meters and then we came to the sanatorium on the island.

Skildpadde-sanatorium-gili-meno

It was amazing to see the turtles – big and small. It’s really nice to know that with these sanatoriums and our visits you are helping to support the project. In the Gili Islands, great efforts are being made to preserve the sea turtles.

At first, you may be thinking – what a dull life just to paddle around in this basin, but on the other hand, it’s better than being eaten.

For 9 months, the turtles grow here, after which they are released into the sea and should then be able to manage themselves.

After the visit to the sanatorium it was snorkelling time and to see if we could spot a single or 2 large sea turtles.

Havskildpadde-gili-meno

Snorkeling with sea turtles

We were lucky – the sea turtles appeared quickly and we swam very close together.

On the shallow water, they floated along the bottom and occasionally made their way up to the surface to get air.

It was a really great experience – and especially for my 2 children (10 and 11 years), who had no problems swimming with us.

It’s a completely indescribable experience to see and swim with these beautiful sea turtles who seem to be just as curious as us.

Although the island is very quiet, it’s no more quiet than (fortunately) after a great snorkeling experience you can sit and enjoy a little food & a drink.

Gili Meno is an island you MUST experience when going to Gili Islands. Don’t buy a guided tour of the island – save your money and explore for yourself – you won’t regret it!

Gili-meno

If you want 100% peace and quiet, then you can easily find accommodations at Meno (affiliate link).

Gili Air & Gili Meno IS a paradise

At Gili Air and Gili Meno, time stops and nothing but enjoyment seems important anymore.

After approx. a week at Gili Air we decided it was time to move on (but we could easily have stayed much longer).

We were going to Lombok and more specifically Kuta (not to be confused with Kuta in Bali).

From a couple of young Australian surfing dudes, we’d heard that Lombok should be great beaches, food and surfing. Of course, we had to experience that..

Gili Air became our absolute best stay of our entire Bali & Islands trip. Next time we travel to Bali, it will primarily be because of the Gili Islands.

Thoughts & observations on Gili Air

  • A real barefoot paradise with a chill atmosphere
  • Bathing shoes are a great advantage as the water is filled with stones and coral
  • Keep a close eye on whether tax and service are included in the stated restaurant prices (applies to both Bali and islands)
  • REMEMBER flashlight – it is VERY dark in the evening
  • You will be surprised by the very short distances – you can walk to everything
  • Be aware of what you can withdraw from the different ATM machines – it varies – if it says minimum 150,000 you can usually withdraw 3 million

Thoughts & observations on Gili Meno

  • Paradise on earth – definitely the quietest island
  • Remember bathing shoes
  • If you stay overnight remember a flashlight
  • Drop tourguides – you can walk to everything yourself
  • Use the Public Boat from the Gili Air pier – it’s the cheapest
  • REMEMBER snorkel gear, sunscreen and towel

When you see (affiliate links) in the article, it means that if you book hotels, tours etc. through our links, we earn a little bit in commission – thank you for your support.

The blog post was updated on March 10, 2020