Touted as the ‘New Bali’, Lombok has plenty in common with its stunning next-door neighbour – tropical jungles, an idyllic climate and sweeping stretches of sandy beaches.
The resorts are sophisticated and there’s plenty to see and do for all types of visitors from young families to more mature travellers. We take a look at some of the best places to visit in Lombok.
Rinjani National Park
The Rinjani National Park is particularly popular with walkers and climbers, with the stunning ascent of the active Rinjani Volcano being the highlight.
Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, soaring some 3,726 metres above sea level. The huge crater near the top contains a stunning crescent-shaped lake named Danau Segara Anak (Child of the Sea Lake). Another volcanic cone, Gunung Baru Jari, juts out from the side of the crater. There are also several caves, small waterfalls and hot springs scattered around the volcano, the most important of which being Air Kalak on the northeast of the crater. Their volcanically heated waters are said to work wonders on your skin.
The volcano is recognised internationally as an important ecotourism destination and the Rinjani Trek was further recognised by winning the National Geographic’s prestigious World Legacy Award in 2004.
Taman Narmada Park
The Taman Narmada Park offers the chance to see a replica of the mighty volcano while the Balai Petirtaan spring promises eternal youth.
Another attraction in Taman Narmada is the Pura Kalasa temple, which is used each year for the Balinese ceremony of Pujawali. Climb the numerous stairs to reach the top of the temple and once you reach the summit, you can admire the beautiful surroundings including the natural swimming pool and the green trees below. The pool’s waters from the springs in Gunung Rinjani are clean and fresh and visitors love to bathe in the fresh air.
The trio of Gili Islands, located just off the northwest coast of Lombok, are considered to be on par with the Maldives and Thailand’s islands. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan have attracted visitors for years, mainly due to their pristine waters, great diving and snorkelling, along with numerous little beachside cafés for funky, laidback charm. The lack of cars and motorbikes means there’s little or nothing to disturb the peace.
All three islands offer a good range of facilities, including idyllic beaches with white sands and water sports facilities. For a memorable, if a little clichéd way to end the day, watch the sunset from one of the various beach bars to chill-out music. Gili Trawangan is best known for partying – simply follow the crowds to enjoy local bands including brilliant live Reggae music.
Public boats leave twice daily to the other two islands – buy your tickets at the harbour or in any travel agency or ticket booth on the islands.
Pura Suranadi is a complex of three temples situated in the heart of the forest, a few kilometres north of Narmada in Suranadi. It’s the oldest and holiest of Balinese temples in Lombok and was founded by Daqnghyang Nirartha, a 16th century Javanese priest. Underground streams bubble up into restored baths which are still used for ritual bathing and locals come to Suranadi to obtain the holy water for Hindu cremation ceremonies.
Giant, sacred eels live in the pools and can sometimes be lured out with an offering of boiled eggs (you buy them at a nearby stall). To see one is considered to be very lucky.