Swimming With Turtles On Gili Meno – The Proof

By my sixth day on Gili Meno, off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, I’d seen so many sea turtles, I was beginning to get a bit bored with them.

So I slapped myself around the face (a bit hard to do in water) shouting, “Get a hold of yourself woman! You’re swimming with TURTLES!!!!!!!” (a real challenge through a snorkel, let me tell you).

A few years ago, on a snorkelling trip in Turkey, I’d spotted a turtle way down in the depths of the ocean, and totally freaked out trying to get Tyrhone’s attention whilst not losing sight of the enormous, wonderful creature. I was beside myself with excitement, but Tyrhone’s crappy hired mask filled with water, resulting in a rather pitiful display that did not look dissimilar to drowning.

He missed the Turtle. I was upset for him, I really was, though I suppose my continuous boastings of “I saw a giant sea turtle and yoooou did-ent!” were a little cruel. His only revenge was to call a me a liar and discredit my turtle-sighting altogether.

Yes, we’re quite a competitive couple.

So in the interests of laying this “Who Has Seen Turtles and Who Has Not” round to rest once and for all, I present to you:

Exhibit A:

Close enough for you?

Exhibit B:

Glug, glug, glug…

And C:

Yes, that’s me, and yes, that IS a turtle down there!

Now, now, Tyrhone, don’t try to come back with the “I Saw Panda Bears And You Didn’t” line (Tyrhone’s in China, in case you hadn’t heard) because I’m all over that. I just booked my flights to Beijing, after Indonesia.

But if you’re really nice, I may bring you to Gili Meno some time. The hire-masks are much better here, I promise.

Thank you to my friend Katherine for providing the use of her waterproof camera!!! Such a good idea if you are planning a visit to Gili Meno, but even if you don’t have one, go! Just go! Book a cheap airfare to Indonesia here.



Swimming With Turtles On Gili Meno – The Proof — 27 Comments

  1. One of my most memorable travel moments was swimming stroke-for-stroke with a sea turtle in the Galapagos. This just reminded me so much of that!

    Your Indonesia posts really, REALLY have me aching to go there. We were all set to go to Bali for our honeymoon and then couldn’t. So it’s always been in the back of my mind…

    • Hi Dalene! Aren’t they awesome?! The currents around the Gili’s are so strong, I really had to swim hard just to stay near them, and then when my limbs and lungs could take no more, whoosh! I let it take me away, waving sadly to my reptilian friends. All to do it all over again! And again!
      I know when you get to Bali, it will be worth the wait. Ubud is a good base, Seminyak and Kuta are manic. But it has a very powerful energy that just envelops you from the moment you step off the plane. Someone told me that Bali sits on one of the ‘Earth’s shakras’. I don’t know anything about that, but it’s got something special going on, and so does Gili Meno :)

  2. Those aren’t turtles! I mean really, they could be anything from that angle, algae or something maybe. And besides, I saw Pandas, giant ones at that. :)

    Good post Jane, looks so fresh, is the water cool there? Or soupy warm like cambodia?

  3. Ha ha ha, not so!!! Turtles beat pandas hands down. I mean, were you IN the enclosure with them?! No, you were at a glorified zoo, not a natural habitat like I!!!
    Ahem, sorry… The water? Amazingly clear and cool, totally different to Cambodia, much clearer. Gili Meno would probably be my choice over Koh Tonsay now, you know, as the place we could live out our days after this whole travel malarchy? :)

  4. This post reminds me that I ought to pick up an underwater camera.
    It’s not easy to keep up w/ those huge sea turtles, they can be fast for such big creatures. They have more stamina than us, so, it’s not often easy to be in the position to get a nice photo.
    Beijing, how exciting. China has been on my potential list for a while now. I look forward to learning about it from your posts.

    • Hi Mike, I was so grateful to ahve access to my friend’s camera, that’s for sure. It was an Olympus I think, waterproof to 3 metres, so no good for diving, but perfect for snorkeling! These guys appeared so ‘tame’ and obviously very used to us nosey humans, but the good thing about Gili Meno is that it is not overrun with tourists, particularly in June.
      It is certainly going to be a big change going to China, I’m already bracing myself!!!

  5. Fun! I loved snorkeling in the Gilis! And the turtles were definitely the highlight. I’m so glad you were able to get pictures of them!

  6. I saw turtles laying their eggs in Costa Rica but sadly never got to swim with any. This is one of my dreams, so I will DEFINITELY be heading to Gili Meno to try and hang out with a few turtle dudes. Your photos are amazing! What an incredible experience :)

  7. I feel really fortunate that the very first time I ever tried snorkeling, my day ended with a giant sea turtle sighting! I freaked out so much, and kept flailing at Tony so that he would see it too. I’m a strong swimmer, but I’m sure in that moment he thought I was drowning! Just like being in Finding Nemo!

  8. I swam with turtles too at Gili Meno. It was an amazing experience. One of them was really huge.
    Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera. :(
    But that means I have a reason to go back. :)

    Did you visit the turtle sanctuary on the beach of Gili Meno? They collect the turtle eggs at the hatchery and raise the babies safely until they are strong enough to be released into the wild.

    • Hello Wouter, yes I was very lucky that my friend’s camera was waterproof! Gili Meno is definitely somewhere I could go back to! The turtle sanctuary is wonderful, I am so glad that they are ensuring that there will be plenty of turtles for future generations to swim with :) Thanks for including the link :)

  9. What an amazing experience! I hope to someday soon swim with turtles!

    I know what you mean when something so impressionable and amazing becomes a common sighting. That’s happened to me on safari, when people say, oh there goes another zebra or giraffe. It’s crazy. I’ve reminded myself that it’s not everyday you get to be in the wild with these animals!

    So glad you were able to borrow an underwater camera!

  10. Indeed jealous that you get to have pictures with them. I have always wanted to experience swimming in Gili with Turtles. I have done snorkeling a few times but no one beast this! Very happy for you that you have borrowed a friends camera to shoot those breath taking moments.

  11. I know you wrote this a while back but I keep seeing this blog on Google (as I keep searching Gili Meno Turtles!) I’m on the island at present and been snorkelling all day. Not seen a single one. I’m hoping tomorrow might be better and that it’s not just that they’ve disappeared..
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