Ahhhhhhh, the Gili Islands. Just the name puts me in a relaxed mood.
The Gilis are three islands in the northwest corner of Lombok, with each possessing its own personality. Gili Air, closest to the mainland, has the richest local culture of the three and is known for it’s laid back beach style (think Bob Marley here). Gili Trawangan, the furthest away, is the life of the party and where most of the young crowd can be found. Initially, we were going to go to Gili T, as it is fondly named, but being New Years Eve the accommodation was slim pickings, so we settled on Gili Meno, the middle island, and I’m happy that we did. Gili Meno is the most sedate of the trio and it has the whole secluded-island thing down to a tee.
Getting to the Gilis can be a bit of a production but it proved to be absolutely worth it. From Kawah Ijen we took an 8 hour bus to Denpasar, Bali where we took a plane to Lombok, which is a few islands over. Instead of submitting to travel over-kill, we stayed the night in Kuta and celebrated the first day of the New Year on the beach the next day with two coconuts in hand. Cheers to 2017! From there we took another bus to Pamenang where we boarded a ferry to the Gilis. The local boat is much cheaper and slightly less comfortable, but an experience in itself. My spot was a cozy 2 square foot area necessitating I squat between backpacks and grass.
And then we arrived at Gili Meno! **Initiate complete relaxation mode**
There really isn’t a whole lot to do on Gili Meno, but that was kind of the point. Our days were spent waking up in a little bungalow, walking barefoot around the island, taking dips in the sea, watching outdoor movies and indulging in the delicious food. I was pretty content to say the least. It’s a small island so I can see how island-fever could eventually set in, but five days in paradise was perfect.
We decided to do a boat tour around the island to see sea turtles, shipwrecks and coral galore. I was unable to spot the turtles, although apparently they were there because everyone else did, so either I don’t actually know what a turtle looks like or am completely blind. The “shipwreck” ended up being more like a pile of cement beams that had sunk underwater, but the guide said something about not being able to see the shipwreck that day, so I imagine its there somewhere, but who really knows. Despite this, just being up close to the coral and sea life was enough to have me giddy. Scores of colorful fish swam around us as they dipped in and out of the coral in all shades of blue, brilliant pinks and beautiful purples. My favorite moment was when we were completely surrounded by a school of fish going about their day and doing whatever it is that schools of fish do.
It turned out that the best snorkeling area was just off the shore from where we were staying, so next time we’ll just rent some gear and swim out instead of paying for a boat ride (Gear rental:
At Adeng-Adeng Restaurant we watched Idiocracy and the new Ghostbusters in beanbags and with apple-mango ciders in hand. Afterward we would eat dinner beachside (shout out to the feta ciabatta and couscous, they are the real MVPs). Side note: there is a really cool spot that does this on Gili T, Hotel Vila Ombak, that I’d love to go to next time.
With little huts, lounge chairs, wooden swings and colorful beanbags, this quickly became our go-to beach. If there had been availability, this is where we would have loved to stay. Our place was nice with semi-outdoor showers and was only a two minute walk to the water, but we were at Balenta everyday anyway, and really, what’s not to love about bungalows directly on the beach? Balenta wasn’t perfect though, one day they ran out of cocunuts- the audacity! They trees were clearly still filled with coconuts but apparently the professional coconut guy (their words, not mine) was out of town, leading to an island-wide coconut shortage. I wouldn’t mind being trained as his substitute, the job title alone would be worth it: Assistant to Executive Cococut Guy.
WALKING THE ISLAND: Shoes Optional
I firmly believe that the best way to explore a place is by walking, and Gili Meno is no exception. Shoes proved to be more of an inconvenience because sometimes there were deep puddles of water that needed crossing and you took them off anyway. Or, you are walking on the beach, which obviously is a taboo activity to do in shoes. If there was a beach going guidebook, I’m pretty sure that would rule #1 would assert a no shoe policy. The inland of Gili Meno has a quiet jungle feel, while the beaches showcase aqua blue water, with little bungalows lined up and boats lazily bobbing along.
The direct purpose of their presence is yet to be determined, but they are a delight to watch. I mean, if I were a water buffalo I’d love to graze through life on the beach.
The most important activity of all: Nothing. The beauty of having nowhere to be and nothing to do, sheer bliss.
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