Gili Islands: More Child Friendly Than You Think

mirror reflection

reflections of the Gilis

There are three islands that make up the Gili Islands, off the north-east coast of Lombok. Gili T is well-known as the party island. What is less known is that there is a great kid friendly option in the Gili Island group, Gili Meno. We spent five nights there and it was surprisingly family friendly. You can also read about our adventure getting here.

Playing on the beach

The Gili islands are all skirted by beautiful beaches, that are particularly wide and white. Most kids would play at the beach all day if you let them, well ours would! All you need is a few buckets and spades, and the kids should be captivated by the soft sand, the warm water, and the few small waves. Many of the beaches here have coral too, so this adds a bonus play item!!

gili meno beach

Kids fun on the beach with coral stacks

Glass Bottom Boat Ride

Although Olive could join in the snorkelling from the beach, the boys were missing out. We decided to embark on a snorkel trip on a glass bottom boat, this way the little kids had something to look at while the big kids (and Olive) went snorkelling. We negotiated a reasonable price, as there are many spruikers trying to get us on their boat. We paid about $60 for a 3 hour tour of several snorkelling spots around the island. It was a great trip, we saw colourful fish and coral in abundance, as well as a large turtle which we managed to follow for a few minutes. Unfortunately it got away before Olive saw it under the water. There was also great viewing of a large boat wreck.

glass bottom boating

Heading out to sea on the glass bottom boat

Bird Park

Near the centre of the island is the Meno Bird Park. This park was quite well set up for a small island like this one. It had a range of colourful birds on display, but also a large crocodile, monitor lizard, and deer. It was somewhat interesting, but a little overpriced for what it was.

Meno bird park

The bird park had more than just birds

Baby Turtles at the Turtle Sanctuary

A very friendly little place, with lovely hosts right near to where we were staying. They survive mostly on donations, and the place has been transformed over recent years. They have four main tanks with baby turtles of differing size and age in each. Bolong, the local who runs it, releases them to the ocean when they are old enough.

baby turtles

Baby turtles at the Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary

Riding a Cimodo

Horse and carts are a great eco-way to get around (the only way really other than by foot!). Although it was not cheap, it was great fun for the kids riding in the back.

cimodo

Taking a cimodo ride through the scrub

Beachside Restaurants

The restaurants on Gili Meno are mostly family friendly  as they are usually located right on the beach, so the adults can sit and have their meal, beer or coffee, while the kids play, yay all round! Most restaurants are very westernised, so there is usually something on the menu for the kids. Pizza was a common choice for us, though being part of Muslim Indonesia, there was no ham for our Hawaiian Pizzas. Oh and if you want the food spicy you have to ask.

gili meno restaurants

There is a huge choice of beach-side restaurants

It’s Quiet and Low Key

And the best thing about Gili Meno is that it is quiet. There are no dogs, no cars and no motorbikes. Very safe, and a great spot for relaxing.

Gili Meno sunrise

The sunrise view just in front of our hotel on Gili Meno

3 thoughts on “Gili Islands: More Child Friendly Than You Think

  1. Hi! I am going to Bali with my family, including 9 yo and 5 yo. Is Amed better for snorkeling or is gili meno a better choice?( was original plan, but read few reviews that said corals are dead and not too many colorful fish)

    Thank you!

    • For snorkelling off the beach, Amed is a better option. If you visit the right places along the Amed coast (we like Jemeluk the best) there are some fantastic coral very close to shore. We were disappointed with the coral from the beach at Gili Meno, though had a great afternoon snorkelling off a boat and drifting with the currents, which is not as easy with kids. Other than snorkelling, both locations have positives and negatives.

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