I couldn’t contain my excitement as we stepped onto the ferry at Padang Bai and headed across to the Gili Islands! Mind you, I’m not a morning bird and waking up at six in the morning isn’t normally my thing, however, the Gili’s have been sitting on my bucket list for a very long time.
Two hours later, we reached Gili Trawangan and oh, what a beauty it is! Even before you get off the boat you’ll see the different shades of blue of the water. Peer further ahead and you see the lumbering giants – Mount Agung and its sisters – hiding behind wispy white clouds.
The main strip spans about a kilometre from the jetty and contains different throngs of tourists with mostly Europeans, differing from the primarily Australian mix in Bali. Eateries, bars, homestays, hotel ‘resorts’ (take this with a pinch of salt – they’re more akin with cheap and simple inns) diving schools and all the modern conveniences are available including ATMs, minimarts and wine stores. It is also worth mentioning at this point – there aren’t any motor vehicles used in the Gili’s! Your only way around is either on a bike or a horse cart! As such, I was glad I left my monster of a luggage bag behind and only had a small carry-on with the essentials.
The horse cart whisked me away on a bumpy journey down to Palmeto Village. Looking around the main stretch, I had a preconceived notion on how it might be like – probably a little shack that has to bear the throbbing loud music from the bars and the daily prayers from the mosque. But I was very wrong, and couldn’t be happier!
Palmeto Village – Heaven on Gili
To get to Palmeto Village, you will pass along the beach until almost the end of the heaviest built up area then turning inland past the more local villages. Keep your eyes peeled for farmers feeding their cows, labourers hacking their shovels into the sand or a mother preparing the family meal outdoors over firewood. Welcome to the true Gili Trawangan. Welcome to Palmeto Village!
Stepping into Palmeto Village and you feel you’ve got the most unique antique art gallery-esque venue on the island. This ten-bedroom property, each in a standalone bungalow, has definitely been designed painstakingly by the owners – every detail of the property has been well-thought through. For instance, all the doors that lead to the bedrooms are completely different in design, and the table stands at the small restaurant towards the back are made of old sewing machines, the quirks around the property are aplenty!
I stayed in the Flora room. The bedrooms are raised and boast a lovely day bed on the balcony with cushions and a rocking chair. White bougainvillea flowers surrounded my little abode. The wooden furniture is all whitewashed, adding to the island feel of the village. My room had a very comfortable four-poster bed and an extra single bed – similar to all the other rooms in the village. There is one room with a twin bed setting and two rooms that sit beside each other with interconnecting doors – perfect for families with young kids on holiday.
Our afternoons were spent laying by the private beach, a five-minute walk from the property which is also shared by its sister villa, Cloral Flora. Palmeto also has bicycles which you can rent during the term of your stay, that are complimentary. I’d advise you to borrow a torch (or use the light on your mobile) when you’re riding back after sundown to light up your path.
If you’re hungry or looking for a romantic spot for dinner, you’ll relish in the multitude of restaurants that line the beach. You have the option of choosing between local Indonesian or Western meals. Bottles of wine at the restaurants are also decently priced, and makes good accompaniment for any dinner.
I had an amazing stay at Palmeto Village. It’s such a gem with ease of access to the beach and restaurants. A fantastic place for families or large group of friends on holiday, and a taste of heaven in the exotic beauty of Gilli Trawangan!