An Introduction to Lombok
Lombok is sandwiched between the world-famous island of Bali and the remote, uncharted Sumbawa Island of West Nusa Tenggara. Despite rising popularity and growing development, there is still much to discover in this island beyond the now mainstream spots.
Unlike the Hindu-majority Bali, the residents of Lombok are predominantly Muslim. That religious background impacts the island’s landmarks and culture, making Lombok more than just ‘another Bali’. Before the independence of Indonesia, Lombok was mainly ruled by chiefs of the indigenous Sasak tribe, which still dominates the local population at about 85%.
Many local people in Lombok make concentrated efforts to uphold their traditions, with strong adherence to cultural rituals. Other communities practice a unique, fascinating mix of Islam and animistic beliefs.
Not to be confused with the excessively crowded Kuta in Bali, this area on the southern coast of Lombok is an idyllic getaway with beautiful views and peaceful atmosphere. The place has become significantly more crowded in recent years, with new hotels and establishments built along the shoreline. Recent developments bring you a great selection of modern accommodations and restaurants, without forgoing the laid-back island vibe.
Kuta also serves as an ideal hub for some beach-hopping along the southern coast, which is home to some of the most scenic beaches on the island, such as Pantai Mawan, or the famous Pink Beach (Tangsi Beach ̣). Tanjung Aan and Batu Payung beaches are both less than 30 minutes away from Kuta.
The second-highest volcano in Indonesia is certainly a daunting one to conquer, but the journey rewards you generously. The view along the hike is unparalleled and the mountaintop Segara Anak lake alone is worth the three-day toil. If you’d rather save that kind of adventure for another day, the national park area just at the base of the mountain has beautifully picturesque hills and majestic waterfalls that make for an excellent day trip.
The three sister islands just off the coast of Lombok are probably much more popular than the mainland. For decades, the Gili Islands have become a renowned destination for partying, diving, and everything you could want from an island getaway. Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are accessible via fast boat from Teluk Kodek or public traditional boat from Bangsal.
The renowned ‘turtle capital of the world’ offers a myriad of things to see and do, and there’s something for everyone. Daredevils can try extreme watersports at Gili Air, while zen-seekers may opt for a serene morning doing aqua yoga. Enjoy beach side healthy bowls in the morning and party hard at night – a day in Gili Islands is more eventful than most.
© Raditya / Shutterstock
Mataram is the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara and probably the single most lively urban area in Lombok. This is where you’ll find shopping malls, modern restaurants, and majestic houses of worships – including the glorious Pura Meru. Mataram has been a centre of civilisation since ancient empires ruled the land, leaving traces of history in the forms of buildings, landmarks and other historic sites.
© Muchamad Andi Handoko
Senggigi is not like the rest of the island. As Lombok’s earliest tourist hub, this area is relatively well-developed compared to the rest of the island, dotted with great hotels and bars packed with mostly foreign tourists. It’s not hard for European travellers to get a familiar, authentic dinner in one of the restaurants. The coastal area is also home to some beautiful beaches to kick back and watch the sunset.