The three tiny Gili Islands, fringed by turquoise waters and coral reefs, are among the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia, and certainly one of the best snorkeling area in Southeast Asia. The crystal-clear waters of these paradisiacal islands, where turtle-watching is the star attraction, are the guarantee of exceptional snorkeling experiences. Sandwiched between Gili Air and Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno (only 2 kilometers long) is the smallest and less developed island of the archipelago.

Snorkeling with hawksbill sea turtle at Gili Meno
Close encounters with sea turtles (here, a hawksbill sea turtle) are always special moments.

How to get to Gili Meno snorkeling spot?

There are dozens of speedboat and ferry services to get to Gili Meno, mainly from Lombok (Bangsal) and Bali (via Gili Trawangan). Inter islands boats transferts are also available (from/to Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan). Contact the different companies for up-to-date information.

Water entrance for snorkeling Gili Meno

You can enter the water anywhere along the sandy beach.

You can do snorkeling all around Gili Meno, continually surrounded by coral reefs, but we particularly recommend you the area on the map below, known for the richness of its marine life, the regular presence of two species of sea turtles, as well as famous underwater sculptures.

Gili Meno snorkeling area map

Gili Meno snorkeling exploration

The spot to explore covers a 150 to 200 meters-wide area between the beach and the reef drop-off. At this point, when starting from the beach, you will cross a few dozen yards of sandy areas and seagrass (↕0.5-2m), then a sea bed covered with coral (↕2-3m) as far as the reef drop-off (↕+6m).

The sea turtles are practically unmissable on this spot. Two species, the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle, are mostly observed in the coastal waters of the island, sometimes just 5 to 10 meters from the beach. They use to feed on the sea grass, but you can also meet them on the coral areas along the drop-off, especially at high tide.

"Nest" underwater statues, sitting only 4m deep, is a perfect underwater photo setting.
“Nest” underwater statues, sitting only 4m deep, is a perfect underwater photo setting.

In Gili Meno, like on the two other Gili islands, the turtles have been long used to human presence and can be easily approached and observed. Avoid disturbing them, which come to the area to feed and rest: don’t chase after turtles, don’t touch them, and leave them enough room when they come up to the surface to breathe.

While snorkeling with sea turtles is the star attraction on the island, the other richness of the site should not be overlooked. Along a strip of ten or so meters along the reef drop-off, the spectacle is at its finest! Soft and hard corals (even if some areas are suffering of human pressure) covers the seabed. Move along in parallel with the beach and here and there you will come across shoals of surgeonfish, sunburst butterflyfish, groups of sea goldies, or even (if you are lucky), three-banded clownfish (amphiprion ocellaris) in their sea anemone. Some 100m from the shore, snorkelers can also spot the “Nest”, 48 life-size human sculptures, formed in a circle, created by the artist Jason deCaires Taylor (check map above for exact location).

Coral reef snorkeling at Gili Meno
At least 5 butterflyfish species in only one photo! Impressive, isn’t it?!

The reefs were damaged in the past and are slowly regaining their former glory. Don’t touch the coral and be careful not to break it with your swim fins. Watch out for boats that come and go on this site when you are exploring the drop-off area.

Restaurants and accommodation in Gili Meno

On Gili Meno, you’ll find countless beachside hotels, bungalows, cafés, bars and restaurants.



 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth6m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersBoats crossing in the area
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

Sea turtle watching in the Gili Islands

snorkeling-turtle

Sea turtles (both green and hawksbill) are a familiar sight in the Gili Islands. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:

  1. Do not attempt to touch or ride sea turtles
  2. Stay at a distance (6 to 10ft) from sea turtles
  3. Do not chase a turtle swimming away
  4. Avoid sudden movement and allow sea turtles plenty of space when they come up to the surface to breathe

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.