The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands : Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air situated just off the northwest coast of Lombok – Indonesia. Gili Trawangan has in recent years for the most part become very developed, great if you want to party. Gili Air is somewhere in between whereas if its beauty, tranquility and that Robinson Crusoe feel you’re after Gili Meno is the place to be. White coral beaches fringed by warm turquoise seas and a laid back feel unique to this island.
The hub of the island is situated on the east coast around the harbor where the boats drop you off. Accommodation until very recently was nearly all small simple home-stays run by local families. However more upmarket options are springing up now around the island so whatever your budget and requirements there is something for you. Some of the more basic home-stays still have only island water which can be a little salty however most places now have fresh water showers. This is shipped over to the island from Lombok so try and use sparingly.
There are no motorized forms of transport on the islands which makes for a peaceful life and no pollution. Most people like to walk,you can have a leisurely stroll around the island in about one and a half hours. If you arrive on the island with a lot of luggage and your hotel is far from the harbor you can easily rent a horse and cart,locally known as cidomos. Prices range from 65-80,000 IDR depending on the location of your hotel. Its also a great way to see the island.
Seasons and weather
The Gili islands have a warm tropical climate year round with a dry and wet season. Dry season runs through May-October whilst the wet season is November-April. Most of our guests tend to come in the dry but don’t discount the wet season for your holiday, even thought you may encounter strong rains most days get a good amount of sunshine too plus hotels are much cheaper. In Jan/Feb however the seas can get a little choppy at times and often the Komodo boats do not run. Also for those wishing to trek Rinjani volcano this is not a good time of year as the Rinjani National Park normally closes due to risk of landslides. You can check with us for the latest updates.
- High season : Jan/July/August/Dec
- Mid season : May/June/October
- Low season : Feb/March/Apr/Nov
We now have three ATMs on Gili Meno. One is located at Mallias Child Bungalows and two at Kontiki Resort both located on the east side of the island not far from the harbor. In high season they do run out of money & occasionally break down so its best to bring plenty of cash just in case and check if your hotel takes Visa payments. If you do run short it is an easy quick boat ride over to Gili Trawangan where you will find plenty of ATM machines. Gili Air also have a couple of ATMs but sometimes run out of money so Gili T is your best bet. We here at Attas Travel also change money and accept Visa/MasterCard payments.
Island Hopping Boats
Its very easy to go island hopping. The boats run twice everyday from the harbor on the east coast and takes approx 15 mins to either Gili Trawangan or Gili Air.Here is their current timetable:
- Gili Meno-Gili T departs 08.50 and 15.00 hrs. Returns 9.00 and 16.00 hrs.
- Gili Meno-Gili Air departs 9.50 and 16.50 hrs. Returns 8.00 and 15.00 hrs.
Price per person one way 35,000 IDR.
Just go the harbor office 15 mins before departure to buy your ticket. If you wish to make an ATM run you can go and come back on the same boat, just inform the captain!
Public boats to Bangsal on Lombok take approx 35 mins departs 8.00 and 15.00 hrs and returns 9.30,14.00 and 17.00 hrs. Price per person 16,000 outward and between 16,000 and 25,000 coming back depending on the time of day.
Please be aware if you go to Bangsal harbor in Lombok there are a few unsavory characters and touts awaiting you. Always best to plan ahead and book a shuttle service or private transfer to avoid hassle.
GREAT NEWS!!…As of October 2015 there is a now a NEW PUBLIC SPEEDBOAT that runs between the islands & Bangsal in Lombok which makes Meno so much more accessible! Departs hourly from each respective harbor office and costs 85.000 rupiah per person. So now if your fast boat only drops you as far as Gili Trawangan or Gili Air you can easily hop over to Meno quickly rather than waiting for the island hopper or chartering.
If its diving you’re after we can highly recommend Blue Marlin Dive Center located 5 minutes south of the harbor on Gili Meno. The manager David and his experienced crew will give you a warm welcome,you can contact him for more details on email@example.com
Health and safety
There is a clinic open 24 hrs in the center,the doctors mostly speak English and are very helpful with simple ailments such as ear infections, upset tummies,cuts and grazes. For more serious illness we recommend you go directly to one of the main hospitals in Mataram in Lombok or return to Bali. We can offer advice here at Attas Travel, we are located just opposite the clinic.
As far as we can ascertain there is no malaria on the Gili Islands although we do have some rare cases of Dengue Fever. We recommend you use mosquito repellent just to be on the safe side. Of course please check with your doctor before traveling that all your vaccinations are up to date for this area and that you have comprehensive health insurance before traveling.
Gili Meno is generally very safe and any sort of crime is extremely rare.Residents tend to leave their doors and windows open. You can walk anywhere on the island without any worries although at night in the interior it can be very dark so perhaps walk in pairs and take a strong flashlight.
Religion and Culture
Unlike Bali which is Hindu the Gilis and Lombok are predominantly Muslim. You will find the local people to be very friendly,always ready with a smile and willing to help. On Meno the locals are of course used to tourists but out of a mark of respect when wondering around the interior of the island in the villages its always good to cover up a little…wear a sarong over your bikini etc. Plus topless sun bathing is frowned upon. There are one or two sellers on the beach but they do not hassle you,in fact the reverse,they are very friendly and polite and seen as there are few shops on Meno you might wish to buy one or two souvenirs to take home.
Most holiday makers coming to Indonesia will need a visa (the exceptions are citizens of these countries who can enter Indonesia for short visits of up to 30 days: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile,Ecuador, Hong Kong SAR, Laos, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).
For all other countries a 30 day visa on arrival can be bought on arrival at most airports in Indonesia costing USD 35 per person. Try to have the money in US dollars although other currencies will be accepted. You cannot pay by credit card. Please be aware that the 30 day period starts on your arrival day and your day of departure is counted too. Overstay on visas can be serious! Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from date of arrival and occasionally they will ask to see your onward or return ticket so best to have it handy.
There have recently been proposals for provision of free visas for short visits for 5 new countries : China, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Unfortunately these have NOT been implemented as yet. You will still have to pay the USD 35 on arrival.
A visa on arrival can be extended for another 30 days maximum at any immigration office. To do this you now need a copy of your inbound flight ticket in to Indonesia and will have to go to immigration for fingerprints and photo. It can be time consuming and some people prefer to use an agent although be careful as some of them overcharge! We can help you with information here at Attas Travel. Alternatively you can apply for a 60 day tourist visa at the Indonesian Consulate in your own country before you come.
* VISA UPDATE 11/07/2105
A new visa policy is now in force. Indonesia will now allow foreigners from an additional 30 countries to enter Indonesia without a visa.
The additional countries that will not need to obtain a visa for short visits are China,Japan,South Korea,USA,Canada,NewZealand,Mexico,Russia,United Kingdom,Germany,France,Netherlands,Italy,Spain,Switzerland,
Belgium,Sweden,Austria,Denmark,Norway,Finland,Poland,Hungary,Czech Republic,Qatar,United Arab Emirates,
Kuwait,Bahrain,Oman and South Africa.
Please note Australia is not eligible for visa free entry.
Visa free travel is only available through five international airports in Jakarta,Medan,Batam,Bali and Surubaya.
IMPORTANT: If you arrive in to the country with a visa free stay you can only stay ONE month! You CANNOT extend as you did before with the visa on arrival. If you want to stay longer than one month ask for a visa on arrival which you can still have even if you are eligible for a visa free entry and then you can extend for one month maximum at any immigration office. Make double sure you are given the CORRECT visa that you require!
Its always good to know the cost of airport taxes for your departure then you can keep enough local currency handy. Here are the costs:
- From Bali: domestic flights 75,000 IDR international 200,000 IDR
- From Lombok: domestic flights 45,000 IDR international 150,000 IDR
If you are traveling in Indonesia for a while its always useful to have an Indonesian Sim card. We recommend XL, you can buy them just about everywhere and they are very cheap. You can top up with credit (pulsa) as you go along. With XL it is also very cheap to call home,just use the number 01000, your country code, city code minus the 0 and then your number.