Lombok – an island east of Bali, but less famous than its neighbor. While every year millions of tourists are attracted to Bali, many places on Lombok are still untouched. Over here mass tourism is unknown. Lombok offers many empty and often isolated dream beaches, friendly and interesting people, tasty food and fantastic nature. This year, after a stay of more than two months, Lombok and the Gili islands became my personal favorites – at least so far ;).
3 paradise islands – which seem tiny compared to Lombok – are located only 20 minutes away by boat (Public Boat): Gili Trawangan, the main island, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The Gilis are very popular for scuba diving and snorkeling but also for relaxing, swimming and partying. Backpackers and tourists visit especially Gili Trawangan often. Over here you can feel the lively reggae-ganja-magic-mushroom-vibe ;). The Gili islands are a MUST!!!
Yeah! the second highest volcano of Indonesia is definitely one of THE highlights of Lombok! book a multi-day tour, guided tours to the Crater Lake and even to the top at all touristy spots.
Most tourists arrive in Senggigi because many hotels are located over here. It’s also great for going out at night or eating. One of the most popular surf spots for locals and tourists alike is Senggigi Beach. At this beach the vendors and locals aren’t pushy at all but you can have a nice small talk if you like (mainly about football since Indonesians love football)
Selong Belanak and viewpoint
I believe I never ever saw such a wide and shallow beach like Selong Belanak! I strongly recommend taking a look at the near viewpoint overlooking the beach and the bay. Not far from here you will find the popular surf spot “Mawi”
From Senggigi to Pemenang
To explore this road next to the coast it is best to use a scooter, which you can rent for example in Senggigi. One of the highlights is the viewpoint at Malimbu hill. It offers a marvelous view over Malimbu beach and the 3 Gili Islands. Check out the other viewpoints and beaches that you can find on this way as well since they are worth seeing, too.
If you leave Lombok with the public boats to the Gili Islands and would take a taxi from the airport or from Lembar (where the public ferry from Bali arrives) you will probably use the very same road (or you tell the taxi driver your preferred route) since this road goes directly to Bangsal where public boats are leaving.
Pusuk Monkey Forest
Taking a winding road through a breathtaking mountain landscape is the second option to get to Bangsal. It’s were one finds the so-called monkey forest, named after the numerous wild monkeys in the jungle and near the street. Feed the hungry and annoying little bastards at the viewpoints if you like :D. But be careful and look for your bags, backpacks and such ;). You can go there by a scooter as well, but always “Hati Hati”, like the Indonesian says.
After Senggigi, Kuta is probably the second tourist hotspot on Lombok. It offers beautiful beaches as well and lots of accommodation and restaurants. From here you can explore the dream beaches of Mawun, Tanjung Aan and Selong Belanak since they are very close by (see below). Even Kuta beach itself is worth a look.
Now I will introduce you my three favorite beaches of Lombok. No. 1 is Mawun – simply AWESOME! Depending on the weekday and the time of the day this beach with its soft white sand and turquoise water is mostly deserted. Sometimes the waves are heavier over here. The beach is secluded and located in an almost enclosed bay, which you can easily reach with your scooter as well.
Tanjung Aan Beach
Turquoise sea and white sand, the way I love it! Even here you can climb a rock to enjoy a breathtaking view over the bay and beach. A must-see!
Insiders’ tip! You need a good driver or strong nerves (especially if you go with a scooter) to get to this one! The drive is quite difficult since in my opinion the streets cannot be called streets anymore ;). If you actually make it you will be rewarded with a desolate quiet beach. It is called after its pink sand that consists out of coral. The view from the near viewpoint is marvelous as well and popular Tanjung Ringgit is situated close by.
Mosques and Hindu temples
In contrast to Bali, Lombok and the rest of Indonesia are mainly Muslim. That is why you can see and especially HEAR mosques everywhere. If you book your accommodation in advance you should inform yourself if it’s closely located to a mosque. Especially around Ramadhan it could become very noisy.
The Balinese minority on Lombok got its temples like Pura Meru, Pura Lingsar, Pura Narmada or Pura Batu Bolong as well. Most of them are located at the western part of the island in and around Mataram/Cakranegara or Senggigi.
Lombok got numerous waterfalls, mostly in the northern part of the island. Among others, there would be Tiu Teja, Tiu Kelep or Sendang Gile. In the center of Lombok you will find a few decent ones as well, for example the Benang Kelambu or the Benang Stokel. There is no fresher water than this! Drink it, swim or just let the ice cold water hail down your back… superb! 🙂
The Sasak are the indigenous people of this island, which today make about 85% of the total population of Lombok. Their culture is fascinating and as a visitor you definitely need to experience it. Their food known for its spiciness, their handicraft, their music and dances, the typical Sasak houses or a Sasak wedding with (extreme loud) street parade with “Gendang Beleq” musicians you need to experience. There are plenty wedding parades on Lombok, especially on the weekends. Must-see!
By the way, many of the Lombok natives still speak the Sasak language, especially the older. But everyone speaks and understands the official language Bahasa Indonesia. English only helps in tourist spots.
The markets are typical Asian with fresh veggies, spices, fish and so much more. I recommend strongly the traditional market in Ampenan. Every now and then locals look in astonishment at a “Bule” (westerner) since they don’t come often over here ;). There is no cheaper or fresher place to do food shopping even though as a “Bule” you should consider paying more than a local. It is of advantage to speak a little Indonesian.
Mataram, Ampenan and Cakranegara
Counting around 400.000 inhabitants, Mataram is the capital of Lombok. Close by you find places like Cakranegara (short: “Cakra”) and Ampenan where one can still find some old Dutch colonial style buildings. In Mataram/Cakra are a few lovely Balinese temples and the Mataram Mall with its numerous shops, bars and restaurants on different levels.