Lombok’s time is here and now, having finally stepped out of Bali’s shadow, showcasing to the world its unique mix of adventure, pristine natural scenery and captivating art and culture. A new airport, international yacht marina and improved roads have made travel to and within Lombok much easier, but it is its untamed natural beauty and traditional charm that captivates.
It is an adventure-seeker’s paradise, home to world-class scuba diving, surfing and mountain climbing yet travellers looking for a cosmopolitan beach lifestyle and luxury creature comforts will not be short of options. Experience the best of Lombok with these recommended highlights and hidden gems :
Senggigi and The West Coast
Senggigi, just a short drive from the island capital Mataram is Lombok’s premier beach resort, extending along a series of sweeping bays. The main beach strip is fringed by a wide expanse of sand framed nightly by spectacular ocean sunsets. It is a fairly spread out beach town that rarely feels overcrowded yet there is a broad variety of places to stay, eat and socialise. There is a vibrant expat community here with lots of opportunity for sports and leisure, business networking and searching out those hard to find imported goods. Senggigi is the best place to arrange days out and guided trips to other parts of Lombok. The beach road then winds its way north to upmarket Mangsit, dotted with hip boutique hotels and villas among some of west Lombok’s most captivating scenery. In all, the Senggigi area stretches for almost 10 km along the west coast, and away from the main tourist centre, comprises numerous palm fringed beaches dotted with colourful fishing boats.
A trio of tiny tropical islands off the northwest coast, known simply as ‘the Gilis’ are the go-to place for laid-back island life and the simple pleasures of sun, sea and superb scuba diving. Each of these three islands has its own distinctive atmosphere; the smallest is Gili Meno, a peaceful tropical island haven with few distractions other than deserted white sand beaches and a couple of chilled out beach bars. Legendary ‘party island’ Gili Trawangan is largest and most cosmopolitan of the Gili Islands with no shortage of swanky boutique villas, diverse dining and plenty of action after dark. Gili Air, located closest to the Lombok mainland, sits somewhere in the middle of these two extremes and has the most authentic local atmosphere. The enduring appeal of the Gili Islands is the refreshing absence of any motorised transport making for a pleasant alternative to Bali’s congested beach resorts. Scuba diving is still the main draw and it is one of Asia’s top spots to learn the basics and get qualified. For landlubbers, there are few better places to get horizontal on a tropical beach and soak up the unique island vibe.
Kuta and South Lombok
Like its namesake in Bali, Kuta Lombok is synonymous with world-class waves but thankfully without the hassle of 24/7 traffic and infuriating beach hawkers. In fact, Lombok’s south coast surf breaks are more than a match for the best in Bali, and savvy surfers are heading here to enjoy miles of uncrowded, adrenaline-fuelled waves. Kuta, invitingly close to Lombok’s new international airport, is the main tourist hub yet remains a fairly tranquil tropical haven favoured by both surfers and adventurous families. It makes for a great base for exploring the rugged southern coastline dotted with numerous breathtaking beaches. Scenic highlights include up-andcoming Tanjung A’an, Gerupak and isolated Ekas Bay.
Lombok’s ruggedly beautiful southwest peninsular is largely unexplored by visitors but is now getting serious recognition with the discovery of superb offshore scuba diving and miles of deserted beaches. The main gateway is Sekotong Bay, located just south of Lombok’s main ferry port Lembar and is the jumping off point for Lombok’s ‘Secret Gilis.’ These small offshore islands feature pristine coral reefs and idyllic tropical beaches for a real castaway experience. Heading south, the coastal road winds its way past tiny fishing communities and secluded bays all the way to the tip of the peninsular where the legendary surf breaks of Bangko Bangko (Desert Point) are found — rated among the best in the world.
For an alternative to surf, scuba and sandy beaches, a trek up the immense Rinjani volcano is hard to beat. At over 3,700 meters, this is Indonesia’s second highest volcano and makes for challenging 3–4 day trek but the views are definitely worth all the effort. The mountain dominates much of north Lombok and the caldera alone covers a mind-boggling 50 square kilometres. Most climbers only go as far as the crater rim which offers vertigo-inducing views down into the volcanic lake but the extra effort to get to the summit will be rewarded with views as far as Java and eastwards across to the island of Sumbawa. If this all sounds too arduous for comfort, the mountain’s foothills offer a wealth of leisurely hiking opportunities. Head to Senaru village for easy-going walks through remote weaving villages and dense jungle to uncover a succession of scenic waterfalls. (Credit to : My Lombok Magz)
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