Only a stone`s throw away from Bali, a lately discovered island draws more and more visitors each year. Dominated by majestic volcanoes and fringed with the astounding coastline, Lombok is a booming beach lovers` paradise. It considerably differs from its famous sister-island; Islamic culture, deserted bays, less infrastructure and less traffic, greater authenticity and lower prices – these are the secrets of Lombok a new magnet for all budget holidaymakers.
Senggigi is the most developed holiday spot on the island, and it features resort complexes, hotels, a good range of restaurants and entertainment facilities. Long palm-decorated bays, powdery ash-black sand and the jungle-clad slopes of Gunung Rinjani in the background; these are the images that come to view as approaching Senggigi. Endless rice fields and coconut plantations are spreading wide under the spectacular Mount Rinjani.
Senggigi is a great base for exploring the rest of the island and also a gateway to the paradisiacal Gili Islands.
Arriving in Kuta, quite different scenery appears. Dream beaches are dotted with silken, white sands while the azure sea is hiding colourful coral gardens and abundant marine life.
The southern coast of Lombok is something to look at with lots of delight. Driving along the coastline, you will find secluded emerald lagoons squashed amid the wild open Indian Ocean stretches; Kuta is Indonesia`s new surfers` hotspot and excellent diving location.
Holidaymakers can happily enjoy the placid coastal way of life, and if getting bored, there is a great adventure is just around the corner – the isolated hill-tribe villages offer an insight into the local Sasak culture.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN KUTA
The only (and most flexible) way to travel around Kuta is to rent a scooter. The tourist development is fast growing since Kuta-Lombok has beaten the popularity of Kuta-Bali a while ago. You will find here surprisingly clean and stylish beach accommodation and nice seaside ‘warungs’ serving grilled fish and seafood. The town centre is easy to walk but if you want to see the best of Kuta you will have to drive outside the town.
The glorious bays of Seger and Tanjung Aan to the east of Kuta, the thriving fishing village of Awak will blow your mind away. West of Kuta, there is another bunch of phenomenal beaches to search around: Are Goleng and Selong Belanak, Mawun Tampa, Mawi and Rowok are surely the best-kept secrets of the southern coastline. One will easily get lost here in the network of narrow, unpaved and unmarked lanes, leading to these paradisiacal bays. It is not easy to find them, but once there you will see that it was worth the efforts!
BELONGAS BAY AND AWANG BAY
Surfers would typically head straight away towards the south-east coast, to the well-known Awang Bay to catch the wave of their life. The experienced scuba divers will want to set out on a trip to the Belongas Bay in the west of Kuta so they can explore “The Magnet” of the open ocean to see if they are lucky enough to spot a school of the Hammerhead Sharks or the gigantic Manta Rays.
WHAT TO DO IN LOMBOK
Lombok is a Muslim enclave and travellers should remain dressed appropriately. Especially, the females need to be careful what they are wearing to avoid uncomfortable situations. Remember that Lombok is not (yet) like Bali and local people are not that open-minded about the dress code, not to mention that the Islamic beliefs are very conservative.
WHEN TO GO
If you are after sunshine, heat and powerful surf, the best time is the dry season (June-September), but it often gets extremely hot and dry. Scuba divers will want to arrive in the months of March-June or October-November, for the best underwater visibility and calm waters.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Bali/Denpasar.
Take a Perama shuttle bus to Padang Bai, from where a speedboat will bring you to Lombok/Senggigi. Alternatively, you can have a stopover in the Gili Islands on your way if time allows before you arrive in Senggigi.
There is an international airport in Lombok/Mataram as well, but the flights tend to be quite costly.
For all international flights check out www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com
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