A Complete Guide to Visiting the Nest – The Beautiful Underwater Sculpture @ Gili Meno, Indonesia
Be a mermaid for the day and discover the Nest. An enchanting underwater sculpture at Gili Meno!
The Nest sculpture is one of the top underwater spots to visit in Indonesia and is a must see attraction when visiting the Gili Islands. We had seen numerous photos posted on Instagram of this incredibly beautiful underwater sculpture – visiting the Nest was on the top of our list of things to do whilst exploring the Gilis. After our wonderful stay on Lombok, we headed to the tropical island of Gili Air for further R&R. You can never have enough relaxation time, right?! We chose a lovely intimate boutique resort on Gili Air for the perfect couples getaway.
Have you heard of the famous Gilis located on the northwest coast of Lombok? The word ‘Gili’ means small island and there are three Gili Islands on the north west coast; Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. There are actually over 30 Gilis dotted around Lombok and we have only visited 5 of these! Gili Meno lies between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air and is the least developed of the three islands, is definitely quieter and also the smallest compared to the other two islands. The locals are so friendly and welcoming and the water is ideal for diving and snorkelling, making these islands popular for travellers. What makes these Gili Islands unique is that cars are prohibited. Cycling and walking is by far the best way to explore these tropical islands.
What is the Nest Sculpture?
The Nest sculpture was designed by the famous British underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. His first underwater sculpture park was created off the coast of Grenada and is listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic. He has created numerous underwater life size sculpture parks and museums all over the world from Lanzarote to Mexico.
Works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world - Underwater Sculpture
The nest is an underwater sculpture comprised of 48 life sized human statues formed in a circle, both standing up and lying on the seabed. The sculpture is a man made reef in shallow waters, only 3 meters deep. This is perfect for snorkelers and divers. The circle of statues represents the circle of life and will eventually be filled with all types of marine life in the underwater world. The nest statues consist of pH neutral materials to promote natural growth of coral and to conserve the precious marine life.
The sculpture will constantly change and evolve into a reef, providing a home for all the marine life, protecting the turtles and the ecosystem.
Soft corals and sponges should flourish quickly paving the way for delicate hard corals and a fully established reef - Jason deCaires Taylor
The earthquake in August 2018 caused such devastation to the local communities and to the corals and ecosystem. Hence with the Nest statues, this will help rebuild corals, diversify the fish species and increase marine life to live and amongst the coral.
Note that there’s another three life like statues only a few meters away from the Nest – these are easily missed. We noticed that majority of the people snorkeled around the main area and didn’t spot the smaller statues lying in a circle.
Snorkeling around the Nest Sculpture and Gili Meno
We arranged a private boat trip to explore the snorkeling spots through Kayla Cafe on Gili Air, only a short walk from Camilla Beach Club. We were informed by the manager to leave early, in order to avoid the crowds from the daily snorkeling boat tours. We were picked up at 8.30am from our villa, the Captain arrived promptly in a long wooden boat, and off we went towards Gili Meno. With a private boat, we were able to stay however long we wanted without any time restrictions. There were snorkels, masks and fins provided, however we used our own masks and snorkels. Although I did snap the clip off Ian’s snorkel (oopsy!), resulting in Ian using one of the spare snorkels. Phew!
First stop was spotting turtles and boy did we see the turtles. There were so many cute turtles swimming around us slowly and freely. It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience to see these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. Ian used his action cam to record the turtles swimming in the clear waters and their heads bopping out of the water to catch their breath. As it was fairly early, there was only one other boat there with just two snorkelers in the water.
Next stop was the one we were waiting for … the Nest sculpture. By now it was 9am and we could spot 4 snorkelers in the water already. We put our masks and popped our fins on, to help us dive down to get up close and personal with the statues. The boat stopped near the small circle of statues and we snorkeled towards the main area. The statues were so life like and you could see the detail on the faces. The statues standing up were in couples embracing each other and another circle of statues lying on the sea bed. We took deep breaths and dived down to see the statues closely. Much to our surprise, our action cam stopped working at this point. Bloomin’ typical and it had to happen when we were at the Nest. Ian tried to fix it but no such luck. After 30 minutes, we could see the snorkeling boat tours heading towards us, and we immediately made the decision to head to the next snorkeling spot.
The third stop was to see the different fish species in the coral. Such a shame but most of the coral here was not colourful at all but very dull. We did see a handful of tropical fishes though, including Dory and Nemo! The water here was so warm and crystal clear.
The final stop was to see the coral. There wasn’t many fish swimming around here but you could see the vibrant blue coral. I had never seen blue coral as bright as this before. The blue coral however was only in a small area. We didn’t stay here long and finally headed back to Gili Air.
Since our action cam wasn’t working, we arranged for another private boat trip only to see the Nest to capture our moments. We arrived at 8am this time and there were only a couple of people in the water who were staying on Gili Meno and had swam from the shoreline. We suggest snorkeling the Nest as early as possible to beat the crowds.
Location of Nest Sculpture
The Nest sculpture lies on the West side of Gili Meno. Find the big BASK sign and swim approximately 100m out from the beach. The statues have been placed in front of the BASK Resort, which is due to be completed by 2020. The sculpture is only 15 minutes away from nearby Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.
How to get to the underwater sculpture
To reach the underwater sculptures at Gili Meno, we hired a private boat from Gili with the journey only taking 15 minutes.
If you’re staying on Gili Meno, head to the West side of the island and look for the ‘BASK’ sign. Once you see the sign, swim out around 100m from the beach and you’ll see the Nest.
From Gili Trawangan
Boats depart 09:30 and 16:00 daily
Journey time – 15 minutes
Cost – 23,000 IDR
From Gili Air
Boats depart 08:30 and 15:00 daily
Journey time – 15 minutes
Cost – 25,000 IDR
There are public boats that depart from Bangsal Harbour
Journey time – 25 minutes
Cost – 25,000 IDR
There are snorkelling tours you can book on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.
- Get to the Nest early to avoid the crowds. We suggest 8am since the boat tours arrive around 9.30-10am You could also try 1pm as this is the time when the tours will be at lunch.
- Remember to use reef safe sunscreen when visiting the snorkeling spots or even swimming in the sea. The chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed by the coral, which then interferes with the growth of the coral eventually leading to bleaching. The chemicals are very toxic to the coral and marine life.
- Do not touch or stand on the coral
- Beware of the strong current by the Nest sculpture. I didn’t know how strong the current was till I had drifted away from the sculpture. To take photos and video, we suggest swimming around the sculpture and let the current drift you along so you are not fighting against it.
- If you’re not a strong swimmer, use a life jacket to help you swim.
- Use fins to dive deeper and to get close to the statues.
The first private boat trip arranged via Kayla Cafe was 650,000 IDR for 2-3 hours.
The second private trip arranged via a tour company was 450,000 IDR only to the Nest sculptures.
Where to stay in Gili Meno
If you’re looking to stay on Gili Meno, here are our recommendations:
MAHAMAYA – This chic, luxurious resort is located on the beach with ocean views. The villas are decorated with a simple and contemporary design, and offer either beachfront views or view of the pool.
Gili Meno Escape – A small adults-only boutique resort with 6 traditional bungalows, offering views of the outdoor pool. This resort is nestled in the palm trees and tropical garden. Breakfast is served on your private terrace.
Gili Meno Getaway – This intimate resort offers traditional bungalows with pools views. Each bungalow is spacious, bright and modern inside. Bikes are offered to the guests for free.
What to bring
Here are a few items to bring to your trip:
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