Lombok Travel Guide

Lombok Travel Guide

Uncrowded beaches and the lazy ambience draw many people to Lombok. Diving is excellent and Lombok is a friendly place, and its people are warm and relaxed.

While Lombok lacks the cultural splendor of Bali, but for those looking to escape the crowds it makes a great diversion and is becoming a destination in its own right.

Geography
Lombok is an island in eastern Indonesia, located east of Bali. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east.

It is roughly circular, with a “tail” to the southwest, about 70 km across and a total area of about 4,725 square kilometers.

With tourism not being quite as developed yet as Bali, Lombok makes the perfect getaway. Escape to picturesque mountainside landscapes to white sand beaches of the Gili Islands.

Lombok also has the third largest volcano in all of Indonesia, Mount Rinjani, which extends 3726 meters high with a crater lake called, Segara Anak.

Climate
The main seasons here are wet season which starts from November to May and dry season start from May-October. The best time to come is in the month’s of May-September when the weather is just perfect with bright daylight and green scenery.

Getting there
There are flight from Bali, Jakarta, via Yogyakarta and Surabaya (some link to Kuala Lumpur) and from Singapore.

Getting around
Getting around Lombok can be difficult. Public transport isn’t well developed, although major transit points are linked. To reach more remote areas and attractions, travelers must arrange their own transport.

Taxis are very common in the capital and can be flagged down easily. Prices are excellent and the meter is usually employed without a gentle nudge.

It may also be a good idea to hire cars or motorbikes on Lombok. This is an inexpensive way to get out and see the island. However, make sure that the vehicle is roadworthy; and please – watch out for roaming cows and goats.

History
The island’s inhabitants are 85% Sasak (Muslim’s closely related to the Balinese), 10-15% Balinese, with a fair sprinkling of Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese.

From the Seventeenth Century on, Lombok was under control of a few Balinese Monarchs. Trade for Bali was mainly through Lombok, because Bali was hard to reach for the very large ships.

In the Nineteenth Century there was lively sea traffic with Singapore. On Lombok a Danish and British trade centre were established. During a civil war between the rivalling Balinese monarchs these trade centers played a big role. The Dutch also tried to found a trade centre on Lombok, but were sent off because the British advised as such.

In the 1890s the people of Lombok rebelled against the reigning Balinese monarchs. Especially monarch Anak Agoeng Mad? was notorious for his cruelties against the locals, the Sasaks.

Place of Attractions
The capital of Lombok, Mataram itself is a small city. However, it makes a great starting point for a number of very interesting end enchanting forays into more entertaining areas.

Pura Meru
The largest temple on Lombok is the symbolic Pura Meru in Cakranegara. This three tiered pagodas dates from 1720 and was built to honor the Hindu trinity. Nearby, set by an artificial lake is the Mayura (peacock) Water Palace. The remnants of the Balinese royal palace date from 1774 and exhibit an unusual blend of regional influences.

Sukarare
South of the capital is Sukarare, a weaving village. You will find many traditionally-dressed women weaving brightly-patterned traditional cloth on wooden handlooms in simple surroundings. Some excellent although expensive work can always be found on sale.

Penujak
Not far from the weaving village of Sukarare is Penujak, a famous pottery village that fires every imaginable type of pot and tile from local red clay in traditional kilns. It is a must visit for those interested in this form of handicraft.

Beaches
Lombok has a few beaches worth visiting. Most of these are relatively undeveloped. The only notable exception being the beach of Senggigi. This quiet and gently sloping cove is a major destination. You don’t need to go far to have a whole beach to yourself.

The 3 white sand Gili Islands off the northwest are also popular. All are still in their infancy in terms of development. None have any paved roads or motor vehicles, electricity is very temperamental, supplies limited and as yet there is no fresh water plumbing. The majority of visitors to the Gilis are backpackers.

The snorkeling and diving off the Gilis is quite good, blue coral rather than dead white coral exists and marine life, particularly turtles, is in abundance.

On the south coast of Lombok are the superb stretches of almost totally deserted white sands. Lombok’s Kuta Beach is great for swimmers and further west from Tanjung Aan are the best beaches for surfers and windsurfers. Gerupak to the east is another good one with boards for hire.

Shopping
If shopping is what gets you going, then Lombok may not be the best place for you as it features very few shopping havens.

The capital’s shops sell largely practical and functional goods, the best selection being in Cakranegara City.

Senggigi is your best bet for souvenirs, furniture, beach clothes, woodcraft and antique shops. Beware of unsold merchandise being touted as Antiques!

Activities
Golfing
Rinjani Country Club is situated 500 meters above sea level. It has an 18 hole standard course with a club house, personal villas, swimming pool, pro shop and coffee shop. It is located 35 kilometers from Senggigi beach.

Lombok Kosaido Golf Club, located in Sira Beach Tanjung, 45km from Senggigi area. The setting is perfect, overlooking the Gili Islands under Palm trees…

Snorkeling & Diving
The Gili Islands is where everyone goes to dive and snorkel. Clear blue-green waters with abundant undersea life attract most tourists. Professional dive shops on the Gili’s with certified dive masters offer you lessons if you need them.

Mt. Rinjani Trek & Eco Tourism
Mt. Rinjani is one of the largest mountains in Indonesia. On a clear day you can see break taking views from the summit. There is a crater lake, Segara Anak and natural hot springs. The trek usually takes about three days and you are advised to go with an experienced guide.

Special events
Lombok has Islamic, Hindu and Christian religions as well as the indigenous Waktu Telu, a blend of local practices and Islam. Various indigenous festivals are celebrated in traditional villages, spilling onto the roads throughout the year.

The dates of Islamic festivals switch every year. Ramadan is the largest and is marked by a month of fasting. It concludes with Eid al-Fitr, a huge feast with prayers and gifts among family and friends. Another Islamic holiday is Eid al-Adha when pilgrims perform Al-Haj in Mecca.

Every year between October and December the rain festival Perang Topat takes place in the unique temple at Lingsar, north of Mataram. The translation for this is ‘topat war’. Topat is sticky rice wrapped in palm leaf, and two teams hurl topat at each other in celebration of a successful harvest.

Anyone can join in this frenzied food fight.

A colorful Balinese Hindu ceremony, Pura Meru, occurs in June at the time of the full moon at Cakranegara’s temple.

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