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Gili Meno, one of the three Gili Islands is the smallest and definitely the quietest island which is supposedly the best for a relaxing few days with some brilliant snorkeling spots. With partying not being on our main agenda, we chose to stay away from Gili Trawangan as we preferred the idea of a relaxing few days on quiet beaches with the fewest number of tourists. When split between Gili Meno and Aire, our decision was made very simple when we heard about the prospect of potentially seeing many turtles on Gili Menos.
With nothing booked in terms of accommodation, we had a wonder around the main area where we found the very newly refurbished Casablanca Resort, a group of five bungalows set back just one hundred metres from the beach. Run by two very friendly and helpful locals, one of which was married to a Geordie, we were able to get all the useful tips and so all in all we got a great deal as it only cost us 150pesos a night, breakfast included, which also included a pool.
Max making breafast after the help allowing him
to use whatever we liked hehe
With not much else to do on the island apart from snorkel, enjoy the quiet beaches and eat, we probably spent half our time in the water snorkeling in search for turtles. Our first sight of turtles was at the turtle sanctury where they nurtured young turtles from the day they hatched until they are eight months of age and big enough to be released into the wild. Here there were four separate pools which housed the young at different stages of their development. The pools with the younger turtles had tens of them just paddling about and picking up scraps of fish.
Our first snorkel was just off the main beach in front of the main resort area (just off Biru Meno Bungalows). The waters were clear with plenty of marine life in amongst the corals and we were able to get our first experience swimming with a turtle. After spending just over an hour and almost heading back to shore we came across this beautifully graceful creature just slowly gliding through the water minding its own business. Despite us being able to swim alongside it and keep up with it in the water, it still maintained its distance from us before moving down into the deeper waters.
Lady selling fruit at the beach
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Being able to swim up close with turtles within arms reach was pretty unbelievable considering they are wild animals living in their natural habitat. We must have spent around five hours overall just following the turtles and watch them just move along the shallow waters feeding off the coral.
As well as the turtles enjoying the shallow waters far from shore, the continuous coral was also home to hundreds of beautifully colored fish which meant that there was so much life in the area. Due to the diverse range of small fish, it meant it also became a hunting ground in the morning for the larger fish such as Bonito. With the brilliant visibility in the water, we were lucky enough to just float on the waters surface and watch the Bonito round up shoals of smaller fish chasing them out of the water.
Dinner was usually at a restaurant overlooking the beach just by the port which served really good pizza for a reasonable backpacker price. On our last night we opted for a BBQ meat meal which was served with BBQ potatos....very yummy!
One of the days we trekked to the other side of the island which was much quieter and less built up. On our walk, which took about 20mins on a small path, we passed family huts and small fields with cows. On that side there was a shipwreck a few hundred metres out which on a clear day could be seen from above. We snorkelled out and viewed this impressive plane wreck, swimming down as far as possible to have a better look. Scuba divers where diving around the wreck.
The walk back via the beach path
The snorkeling off Gili Meno is definitely one of the best we experienced whilst in Asia when considering the crystal clear waters, the beautifully colorful diverse marine life and of course the close up encounters with turtles. This divine island is one we would definitly consider visiting again.