With crystal-clear waters, white sand and palm-fringed beaches, the three-isle archipelago of Gili Islands in Indonesia is heaven on earth. But come summer and Gili Trawangan – the largest island in the archipelago – gets swamped by tourists. So what do you? You follow our lead and make your way to the smaller, more pristine and less crowded Gili Meno, only a kilometre boat ride across the channel, where serenity awaits. Here are five ways to experience it.
Check in at
Karma Reef. It is the most luxe accommodation on this island, with a string of two-storey rice huts locally known as lumbungs. They might be built of traditional bamboo, but inside modern comforts await – think flatscreen TVs, fully equipped kitchenettes and air-conditioned bedrooms. Each lumbung also features a top-floor balcony – the perfect perch to take in stunning sunset vistas. Alternatively, you could just go for a walk – barefoot – on the resort’s private beach.
Explore the island
Gili Meno is home to just 300 residents. It fact, it only takes about an hour to walk its perimeter. Brightly coloured cidomos – traditional horse-drawn carts – are the only mode of transport here, which is a pleasant change from Bali’s perpetual roar of motorbikes. Wander in any direction, you won’t get lost.
Experience snorkeling and diving
This is a fantastic spot for snorkeling. Look out for Gili Meno’s famous sea turtles when you head out. And there’s no need to take a boat to a reef. You can do it just off the island. There’s something for diving aficionados, too. PADI-trained divers can give you a crash course in diving, with a trip to Gili Meno Wall and the collapsed pier at Bounty Wreck. Wildlife-lovers, be sure to stop at Meno’s turtle sanctuary, run by local resident Abdul Hanan. Constructed from a collection of plastic bathtubs, the hatchery teems with baby green and Loggerhead turtles. They are released back into sea when they’re about eight months old.
Get a spa treatment
Need a respite from the heat? Karma Reef is home to the uber-indulgent Karma Spa, where well-trained staff offer 30-90-minute treatments in a beautiful bohemian open-tent setting, with a optional glass of Champagne before or after. Bliss!
Enjoy a feast
The resort’s onsite restaurant specialises in Mediterranean-style cuisine with stellar dishes such as paella or seafood linguine, all matched with fine wines from across the world. The best bit? You don’t have to go to the restaurant. The restaurant can come to you. Just order room service.
Gili Getaway offers direct service (approx. 2 hours) from Bali to Gili Trawangan, leaving from Serangan Harbour, and complimentary pick-up from Sanur, Kuta, Legian, Denpasar, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Tuban, Kerobokan and Jimbaran. To get to Gili Mino, visitors must catch the public boat or charter a boat for the 1km trip over the channel.