When you’re planning Bali trip, make sure to plan to spend some extra time in the Gili islands. During my last trip to Bali, we took a trip to Gili Meno. I had dreamed of visiting the Nest (underwater statues) for so long and I had to see them for myself. Figuring out how to logistically plan each part of our Bali trip was quite difficult, so I thought it would be helpful to break down each part. Here is my Gili Meno travel tips:
How to Get to Gili Meno
Logistically we thought it would be best to do head to to Gili Meno first on our trip and then Nusa Penida and stay in Bali for the remainder of our 2 week trip. So, we booked an airbnb in Padang Bai for the night we arrived in Bali as that was where the ferry would leave to Gili Meno. The family was super nice and booked our ferry tickets for us. It is sometimes cheaper to book the ferry through your airbnb than online, if the airbnb offers that service. They arranged for a car to pick us up in the morning and drop us off at the ferry. For any other ferries I booked, I used directferries.com The ferry is a bit of a bumpy ride. There is no assigned seating though and the last few rows don’t have armrests, so I laid down because my stomach felt sick. There are snacks you can buy from locals before boarding and they walk up the aisles offering food. Side note for the girls though, I did find a lot of places do not have toilet paper, including the ferry bathrooms. So, possibly bring some. When you arrive to your destination, they will tell everyone for that stop to get off and transfer you and your luggage to a smaller boat that will bring you to the island. Keep in mind, sometimes boats to and from the Gilis can get rough and the ferries will be cancelled, so you should allow at least 24 hours before any flight out of Bali.
About Gili Meno
As I mentioned earlier, the island is very small, you could walk the whole island in probably an hour or so. There are no cars or vehicles on the island at all. There are local taxis that wait with pony taxis when the ferries arrive to help tourists with their bags. Luckily, our hotel, Karma Reef, was right where the ferries drop off.
Where We Stayed
Karma Reef was an absolute paradise, we stayed there for three nights. And it was the perfect place to wind down after our over 2 days in travel. We stayed in their one of their one bedroom sea view tents. The entire staff was the sweetest and hospitable I have ever met. The manager, Manny, greeted us when we arrived with a map of the island providing us with all the details on the island. Their restaurant is right on the beach – we enjoyed every meal there. My favorite dishes were their Greek salad and pomme frites. They also have bikes to get around the island as well as snorkeling gear.
Visiting the Statues
There are three ways to see the statues: go on a tour boat, hire a private boat or head there in the morning and swim out. Most of the tour boats are there in the middle of the day. At that time the tide isn’t as rough but there is so many people getting a picture alone is almost impossible. You can hire a private boat and have them take you at an earlier time. Or, what we did was take our bikes over by the BASK sign and swim out. We did this earlier in the day and the tide was super strong and we continually needed to swim back. It was tiring. We came back again later and there was crowds and people and boats constantly coming to drop people off.Heads up though – there is a lot of dead coral and walking out hurts.
Swimming with Turtles
We hired a private boat to take us snorkeling to swim with the turtles as well.
Relax at the Beach
I have to recommend waking up for sunrise – it is absolutely stunning watching the sunrise over Gili Air.
Take a Boat to Another Island
One of the evenings we decided to take the local ferry to Gili Air for sunset. Gili Air definitely had an entirely different vibe than Gili Meno. Gili Air had a lot more people and the beaches weren’t as pretty in my opinion, but we only saw a little bit of the island. What it lacks in pretty beaches though it makes up for in more nightlife and sunset views.