When I visited Gili Meno, the smallest of Indonesia’s ‘Gili Islands,’ it was love at first sight. It was truly paradise—simply beautiful and beyond peaceful—which is why I can’t stop dreaming about it now.
Deciding Which Gili Island to Visit
Before I took this trip, I’d been in Indonesia for close to two months and was burning out on Bali (Ubud and Sanur), which was a bit too touristic and ‘tout-istic’ for me. I’d heard of the Gili Islands—a relatively famous archipelago of 3 islands—and was intrigued. I knew that:
- Gili Trawangan is the largest and most-developed island in the chain—the place to go if you want to party and have decent wifi…
- Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest–a true Robinson Crusoe getaway—great for honeymooners and people who want to truly enjoy their solitude…
- Gili Air is medium-sized and quieter than Trawangan, but with a certain amount of action—the happy medium…
Gili Meno was the place for me! I took a speed boat from Amed, a cluster of fishing villages and black sand beaches in Bali (cool place to visit, by the way), and visited this island, which is close to Lombok, a much larger island to the east.
As soon as I arrived, I relaxed. There were no cars, no motorbikes (just horse-drawn carriages) and just a few non-aggressive touts. And so few people that it almost looked abandoned. My kind of place!
By the way, Gili means ‘small island’ in Sasak, the language spoken in Lombok, the island seen in the photo (in the not-so-far-off distance). Gili Meno’s population: approximately 500. The size: 2 kilometres long and 1 km wide.
You can walk around the island in about 1.5 hours, maybe just an hour. You can cut across it much faster. It’s that small.
How/Why This Island Is Still In My Dreams
I felt a profound sense of peace when I was there—as if I’d been doing yoga and meditating for a few weeks. I was also captivated by its beauty and magical atmostphere.
Some mornings now, home in N.J., just as I’m waking up, I see this island in my mind and relive my experience. I remember the mostly white, sometimes light peach-colored sand (during dusk) and the clear turquoise water…and what it felt like to be there…
I recall walking in the sand, finding a spot in the shade and entering the water that was not quite as warm as bath water…the way things would cool off and quiet down (if that was even possible–it was so quiet during the day anyway).
I also remember how warm and friendly the locals were…the way they rested in the shade during Ramadan…how often they said hello when I walked past…the chats I’d get into with those who spoke English. I felt welcome and comfortable.
This is Ari, one of the locals, who helped me find accommodations. The next day, I went on a snorkeling trip with him and his boss…
The family from whom I rented a bungalow was really wonderful. They were fasting for Ramadan and during the day, they would rest on a colorful mat in this structure, which provided shade and a cooler temperature. They invited me to join them several times.
I can’t forget my snorkeling experience, either. That was fantastic. We went out to some deeper water and had to jump off the side of the boat to get in (I used a ladder). The fish I saw were so colorful…and the water was simply dreamy.
I’m itching to return to Gili Meno, but not for a few years because I’d want to see other parts of Indonesia and revisit some friends in other parts of the country. It’s too soon since I was there just last year.
Your Thoughts? Reactions?
Looking at these photos while writing this post, I actually got choked up. There’s something about this island, its natural beauty and the people, that really moved me.
I am 100% sure that I will return. I worry, however, that it may be overdeveloped. I recall seeing construction when I was there. Hopefully, I’ll be back before it changes too much.
Is there an island you keep dreaming about?
Do you have an island that you dream of visiting or one that you have visited and now can’t stop dreaming about? If so, which one? What made it so special for you?
Have you visited any of the Gili Islands?
If so, which one and why? If you visited Gili Meno, then you know that it’s is an entirely different world–one of true peace and serenity.
Which of the 3 islands would you choose to visit?
If you haven’t been to this part of Indonesia and could visit one of the Gili Islands, which one would it be and why?
Can’t Get Enough?
Interested in reading more posts about Indonesia? Click here.
Want to see more photos from around the world? Here are the other ‘photos of the day‘ (people, places and things) from several continents.
Like unusual photos? Check out my ‘trippy travel photos.’ The post begins as a game and ends as a learning experience. Enjoy!