When my partner in crime left me to fend for myself after our adventures on Gili T, I caught a fast boat to its neighbour, Gili Meno. Gili Meno is referred to as “honeymoon island” (even by the locals), and while it’s not exactly the Maldives, I can understand why. Every review I’d read about the island said it was super quiet, super chilled, and there wasn’t much to do but laze about on sunbeds all day.
(Sidenote: I don’t understand why honeymooners are stereotyped as only liking islands where there’s nothing to do.)
In comparison to Gili T, Gili Meno is all about the chill, and to be honest I was a bit bored some of the time (when I wasn’t in the water obviously). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful island and if I was the kind of person who could wholeheartedly enjoy lying on a sunbed all day, every day, I would’ve been in my element, but I’m not. I think it had a lot to do with where I stayed though, which felt a bit isolated, and funny enough, was entirely populated by honeymooners doing nothing.
As I mentioned in a previous post about my amusing accommodation fail when I first arrived, I stayed at Desa Seri for the first night before moving to Kampung Seri, both of which were on the northeast side of the island. Having explored the island, I think if I’d stayed south of the harbour, which has a slightly denser selection of resorts, bars and restaurants with a bit more vibe, the island would’ve felt entirely different.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my short time there though. I spent my days embracing the chill on loungers on the Seri Resort beach, had some truly exceptional snorkeling sessions, and explored the island as far as my legs would carry me.
I may have explored a little too much actually. Considering the island is only 2km long and 1km wide, I unintentionally managed to walk the sum total of 12km on my third day, which resulted in very real blisters on the soles of my feet – walking that far in slops is not exactly the smartest idea. I did manage to get lost in the dark on the way back to my accommodation after sunset that day though, which was responsible for a few of those kms.
I can successfully navigate an entire country on my own without ever faltering, so I’m not entirely sure how I managed to get lost on such a small island, but I did, and it was the first time that I encountered a local who wasn’t happy about me being there. The people in Indonesia are exceptionally friendly and always willing to help, but this dude wasn’t impressed about my wandering into the dead end of his courtyard, and promptly and far too sternly for my liking told me to take a hike. That was the first time on this trip that I’ve felt threatened and alienated, but I eventually found my grumpy way back to the safety of my mosquito net.
Gili Meno is far less developed than Gili T, with lots of construction going on in the empty spaces between some super fancy looking resorts, and I found it odd how many dilapidated buildings and abandoned, overgrown swimming pools were dotted around the island when they’re so busy constructing new ones.
There is a long section of beachfront property that is filled boats – old boats, new boats, and boats still being constructed. You’ll often pass by locals hard at work building boats on the Gili islands, and I stopped to chat to one group who said it takes them about 3 months to build a new vessel. They found it very amusing that I cared to stop and watch them, and that I took an interest in the process.
There isn’t a whole lot to choose from in the way of local food options located near Seri Resort, so I generally ended up eating at the resort restaurant which can be a tad on the expensive side, but I can vouch for their Beef Rendang which is pretty damn delicious.
It took me a while to get used to how safe it is on the 3 Gili islands. There’s no police and no security, and from what I understand, there is no crime, but it was hard for me to let my innate guard down. I’m not sure I ever really would. This was particularly evident when I went for my sunrise snorkel at Nest (which was my absolute favourite thing about my stay on Gili Meno). I sat on the beach for about half an hour before finally convincing myself that it was safe to get in the water, leaving my belongings on the beach to fend for themselves, even though there was obviously nothing there that I couldn’t live without.
This moment probably stands out for me because it was the first time on this trip that I was alone and had to figure out what to do with my stuff. Needless to say, it was all still there when I got out of the water. Obviously one should always be vigilant when traveling anywhere in the world and I know that there are places I’m going where I’ll need to be extra careful, but it’s been interesting to see how reality doesn’t always match the stories you’re told.
During my time on the Gili islands, I found myself in a state of constant awe at just how exquisite this part of the world is, and I don’t think that a picture (or the 87 bajillion that I took) could even begin to capture any of it adequately.
If nothing else, even just the magical sunrise snorkel that I had at Nest made my short stay on Gili Meno entirely worthwhile, and despite accommodation mishaps, blisters, and a few brief moments of boredom or alienation, the 3 days that I spent on Gili Meno were, for the most part, beautifully blissful.