It certainly isn’t an easy task to outshine more than 10 000 of islands which are aligned along 5,000 kilometers between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean but one of these islands definitely succeeds that – it’s Lombok.
It’s located in the area which represents ancient trade route between Europe, India and China, between Bali and Sumbawa, in the Nusa Tenggara Barat province. Since ancient times, people living in Lombok have been shaken by many different influences. Thanks to its rich cultural past, the island today is a homeland of the indigenous traditions of the Sasak people, enriched with Hindu, Arab and European influences.
Lombok vs. Bali
Lombok has been sharing both past and present with Bali, its bigger sister (especially when it comes to tourist popularity), but there is a local saying which says that all you can find in Bali, you can also find in Lombok, but not vice versa.
Most people inhabiting Lombok belong to an ethnic group which resembles Bali’s language and culture. This ethnic group is named Sasak and even though it has some similarities with culture of Bali, it has its own impact on traditional music and dances, celebrations, rituals and crafts.
The main occupations of the local people of Lombok are still farming and crafts, while their social lives are organized around the family and the mosque, since most of the inhabitants profess Islam (in contrast to Bali, where people mostly profess Hindu religion). Inhabitants of Lombok are also quieter than people of Bali, who have pretty much extroverted character.
How to get to Lombok?
To reach Lombok, flights from Europe often land at following airports:
From these places, you can have a direct flight to Selaparang airport which is located on the west coast, near Mataram, the capital of the province.
The flight from Bali lasts about 25 minutes; the one from Jakarta lasts two hours; and you’ll arrive in Lombok from Singapore in two hours and a half. You can also get to Lombok on a ferry service between the ports of Padang Bai in Bali, and Lembar Harbour, near Mataram. The journey requires about four or five hours depending on the sea state.
Mataram, the capital of the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Barat, is a city with wide tree-lined boulevards, spacious parks and tall buildings, resembling the era of Dutch colonialism, mixed with traditional local style buildings. The city has numerous attractions, especially highlighting:
- the Nusa Tenggara Barat Museum, the provincial museum and cultural center with a large collection of natural history and local cultures;
- Pura Meru, the largest Hindu temple in the city with three tall towers representing the Hindu Trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva;
- Pura Mayura, another important temple with a lake in the center, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Dream beaches in Lombok
The busiest resorts on the island are concentrated on the west coast, in Senggigi, which is about ten-minute drive away from Mataram and it offers superb accommodations. Gili Islands are another tourist attraction, since they are famous for their underwater activities and turtles.
However, you should also consider visiting the southern coast, with calms bays and wonderful sand beaches, volcanic peaks and cliffs looming over the ocean. On the secluded beaches near Kuta (don’t confuse it with its twin city located in Bali!), surfers are instantly captivated by the twisting waves.
The whole southern region has a stunning, simple but authentic beauty. Some nostalgic people state that it reminds them of Bali about three decades ago. In fact, the whole area has attracted interest of powerful investor groups who plan the construction of large holiday villages.