Our trip to the Gili Islands didn't start wonderfully as I started to feel unwell on our last morning at the resort we were staying at on Lombok. I wasn't sure if it was food poisoning, a stomach bug, or a colitis flare up at this point but it wasn't great. We managed to get to our Airbnb on Gili Air without too many dramas but because I wasn't feeling good we took a speedboat which cost far more than we were hoping to spend on the journey. It got us from A to B as quickly as possible though which was all I cared about.
I was feeling light headed and Nick was super hungry so we walked to the nearest vegan friendly spot on the island, Good Earth Cafe, and I ordered the only chilli / paprika / capsicum free thing on the whole menu whilst Nick ate a delicious looking vegetable curry.
My bruschetta was fine but it came on wholewheat bread which is basically my nemesis. I love it but my body struggles to digest wholewheat so my heart aways sinks a little when the only thing I can make OK for my allergies is going to mess with my colitis. After this I basically spent two whole days running between bed and the bathroom and sleeping a lot. I still don't know 100% what was wrong but Nick got a little unwell after I did so I suspect that it was a bug that then caused my colitis to flare up creating what can only be described as a total shitshow.
On our last night on Gili Air I managed to venture out with Nick to Classico Italiano the place he'd been eating at at least once a day whilst I was unwell. They have a vegan pizza on the menu, The Vegana, which I was more than happy to try.
This thing was huge but with a super thin crust. It had the perfect amount of toppings, a delicious base, and perfectly seasoned tomato sauce. I couldn't have been happier (well, no, I'd have been happier if I was feeling well enough to eat all of it!) and of course this spot is run by super friendly Italians. I love that you can find good vegan pizza somewhere as remote as the Gili Islands. Before dinner we managed to catch one of Gili Air's famous sunsets, it really was beautiful. We wandered a little way along the east side of the island to find the perfect spot at a quieter bar and watched the sunset whilst sipping on a fresh mango juice.
Our next stop was Gili Meno and despite the previous evening's burst of energy I still wasn't feeling great so again we dropped some cash for a speedboat. The cost of this one was totally ridiculous but I was feeling super weak and could barely walk to the beach with my backpack let alone to the port where we would have had to wait in the sun and then squeeze onto a boat with a bunch of other people. I was kind of cursing my body by this stage, it's ability to ignore our travel budget is highly annoying!
Our Airbnb on Gili Meno was the perfect next stop. It was located in the village only a five minute walk from the beach we were dropped off on and I couldn't wait to get there. It certainly didn't disappoint - there were even cats waiting to greet us alongside owners Claudia and Made. This place is described on Airbnb as a back to nature experience but it was just like most of the places Nick and I stayed on the islands in Thailand just with far less bugs and air con.
We woke up most days with the call to prayer and then dozed until it was a reasonable breakfast time. We'd read all about Made's famous pancakes in the Airbnb reviews but we didn't know whether it would be possible to make them vegan. We needn't have worried though, Made and Ketut were more than happy to whip up vegan pancakes each morning with rice flour, coconut milk, and bananas
You just need to ignore the honey that comes to the table with them and this plus the delicious fruit plate makes for an excellent start to the day. It wasn't quite enough food for us so we'd either eat one of the bars we packed (the PB stuffed Clif bars are my jam), or just get lunch early.
If you haven't used Air B&B before you can sign up using this link. You'll get £30 off of your first booking and I'll earn travel credit that will help me to keep travelling for longer.
Most of our days started here navigating the dusty streets of the island's centre whilst we decided which way to go.
All roads lead to the beach but they're all different. The best swimming beach is in the south east of the island but the more isolated northern beaches are fantastic for snorkelling.
The beaches on Gili Meno are truly breathtaking. If you have the energy and can handle the heat I would highly recommend taking a walk around the whole island, it takes around an hour and a half with some stops to cool off in the water and to grab a snack. Nick loved it so much that he did it twice.
I adored the Gili Islands, if I could only choose one I'd pick Gili Meno time and time again but if you have time you should visit both islands. Gili Meno has the benefit of being remote enough and quiet enough that it doesn't attract a party crowd, there are plenty of cheap accommodation options (I don't think that you can beat Claudia and Made's Airbnb though!), and whilst eating vegan isn't easy everywhere on the island it's totally possible and there are some great spots listed on Happy Cow. My favourite was Ryan's Cafe which is run by a local dude and makes some great simple but flavourful tempeh dishes as well as fruit plates and simple western fare like French fries. Between Gili Meno and Ubud I've found some new favourite places and I hope that I can get back to Indonesia someday.