With divine beaches, the majestic Mount Rinjani and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara has no shortage of attractions both in and out of the water. It’s little wonder then that Lombok is the most popular destination in West Nusa Tenggara.
Come here to surf the massive breaks on the south coast. Challenge yourself with a trek up steep volcanic peaks. Hire a bike and cycle through lush evergreen rice paddies. Whichever way you choose to spend your time you won’t be disappointed with the spectacular natural beauty on offer here.
Best known resort area on the island is Senggigi, a township positioned on a sweeping bay that provides magnificent views of a blood red sunset over neighboring Bali. The view of this spectacular sunset is best enjoyed relaxing with a drink at one of the seafront restaurants or on a hill overlooking the bay.
Other visitors to Lombok choose to spend their time on one of the three Gili islands, – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – secluded tropical islands of stunning beaches, a short 20 minutes boat ride from Senggigi.
Located immediately east of Bali, the island of Lombok is separated by a deep trench that divides the Asian continental shelf from the Australian shelf. Biologist Alfred Wallace was the first to notice in the 19th century that Lombok’s flora and fauna differed from those on the western islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Since then the Wallace Line was drawn from the Lombok Straits northwards up the Makassar Straits – separating Kalimantan from Sulawesi – , and on to the South China Sea.
Capital of Lombok and the West Nusa Tenggara province is the city of Mataram, which, in fact merges the towns of Ampenan, Mataram, Cakranegara and Bertais, that were once individual kingdoms and townships. As from 1st. October 2011, the new Lombok International Airport has started operations located in the south of Lombok, 40 km. south-east of Mataram, replacing the former Selaparang airport at Ampenan.
In the 16th century Lombok came to be ruled by the kingdom of Karangasem of east Bali and the town of Cakranegara became the home of the crown prince of Karangasem. Because of the Balinese conquest over the indigenous Sasak people, a large part of Lombok has marked Balinese historic and cultural heritage, especially around the city of Mataram.
But, even before the arrival of the Balinese, an Islamic priest from Java, known as Sunan Giri had already proselyted a large part of the local Sasak population to Islam, and who until now adhere to what is called the Wektu Telu – or the three times for daily prayers, differing from the 5 times obligatory prayers in Islam. Wektu Telu is a religion unique to the Sasak on Lombok that blends Islam with old traditions and beliefs.
Today Lombok is also home to a minority of Hindu Balinese, as well as smaller numbers of Chinese, Javanese, Bugis and Arabs.
Lombok is also known for its magnificent South Sea cultured pearls grown in pristine waters around the island. Lombok’s woven cloths are second to none as are its pottery. Visit the village of Banyumulek where some of the best pottery is produced, and the village of Sukarare for kain ikat or hand-woven textiles. For seafood lovers, enjoy succulent grilled fish and crabs freshly caught from the sea
On the 20th day of the 10th month on the traditional Sasak Calendar, the Sasak people celebrate the traditional ceremony of Bau Nyale. Bau in the Lombok language means “to-catch” and Nyale is a type of sea worm that surfaces only around this time of the year. Therefore, Bau Nyale is a unique festive ceremony when large crowds catch the Nyale along a number of Lombok’s finest beaches.
Other religious festivals take place at the beginning of the rainy season (October to December) or at harvest time (April to May) with celebrations in villages all over the island.
Challenge yourself with a slog up to the heights of Mount Rinjani. At over 3,700 meters above sea level, the trek up this magnificent volcano will take you at least three days and is not for the faint hearted. At the peak you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking landscape.
Feel the sand between your toes and swim in the glistening waters of Kuta Beach in South Lombok. The white sand and spectacular ocean views here make this a magnificent destination. Visit Kuta during the annual Nyale Fishing Festival – usually held in February or March – and enjoy the festivities and a colorful procession.
Explore the near deserted coves on the beaches north of Senggigi where your only company will be the odd fisherman.
Soak up some sun and surf with a visit to the gorgeous Batu Bolong Beach. The beach takes its name from an enormous rock with a hole in it. Make sure you stay for sunset to see a stunning view as the sun lowers behind Mount Agung on Bali with incredible flaming colors.
Learn about the local history and visit the Maruya Water Palace in Mataram, capital city of Lombok. The palace was built in 1744 and was the site of bloody battles between the Dutch and Balinese in the late 19th century.
Appreciate the serenity at the largest temple in Lombok, Pura Meru, located opposite the water palace. This centuries old temple is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Visit the unique Pura Lingsar, a temple compound that combines the Bali Hindu and Wektu Telu religions in one complex.
Stroll around and shop in the charming market town of Surandi. There are some scenic picnic spots to stop and take a break. Or you can cool down with a swim in the river. The water here is considered sacred as it comes straight from Gunung Rinjani.
Absorb local Sasak culture with a visit to Batu Kumbung village, northeast of Mataram. At this traditional village you’ll find women weaving fabrics as their ancestors did centuries ago. This village is famous for its music. Try your hand at learning a local dance or musical instrument.
Test your luck and take in the sights of horse racing or pacuan kuda at the Salakalas field. Races are held every Sunday. Watch the young jockeys in tough competition battle it out till the finish line where the winner will give a triumphant smile. The race is taken seriously and the night before competition villagers massage their horse, sometimes playing traditional gamelan music to relax them.
Airlines which fly to Lombok are:
- Lion Air
- Silk Air
- Batavia Air
- Trans Nusa
Flights to Lombok from Jakarta are operated by Garuda Indonesia, Merpati, Lion Air and Batavia. Lion Air and Batavia Air make a transit stop in Surabaya. While from Denpasar (Bali) to Mataram (Lombok) Trans Nusa (Trigana Air), Indonesia Air Transport and Merpati together operate 8 daily flights.
International flights from Kuala Lumpur are served daily by Merpati taking the route: Kuala Lumpur-Surabaya-Mataram, while SilkAir flies Singapore-Mataram three times weekly. Garuda has a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Lombok also. A new international airport is expected to open in Central Lombok towards the end of 2010.
By ferry: The public ferry travels between Padangbai (Bali) and Lembar (Lombok) multiple times a day. The trip takes around four hours. Motorbikes and cars can be taken on the ferry. If you are prone to sea-sickness be warned that the trip can be rough.
Ferries travel between Labuhan Lombok and Poto Tano on Sumbawa multiple times a day. The trip takes one and a half hours.
By fast boat: Blue Water Safari’s run express boats from Bali to Lombok, the Gili islands and Lebongan Island.
Public transport on the island comes in the form of buses and bemos (small minibus). The main bus terminal is Mandalika at Bertais.
Hiring a car or motorcycle is a convenient way to explore the island. It is easiest to do this in Senggigi. Hotels and travel agencies offer the most competitive rates for car and motorcycle hire.
If you have rented a motorcycle in Bali you can bring this with you on the ferry to Lombok.
For a local experience, take a leisurely ride in a cidomo or horse cart. This traditional mode of transport may not be the quickest way to get around but it’s certainly a great way to soak up the scenery.
Source: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia