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Category ArchiveIsland Destination


Gili Kondo – Islands of East Lombok Indonesia

GILI KONDO is one of 33 small islands (gili) in eastern part of Lombok Island. From those many islands, there are only 3 islands serve as the best tourist destination. These ones called “Three Islands” or Tiga Pulau, i.e. Petagan, Bidara and Gili Kondo, located in the subdistrict Sambelia. This name convention was used in order be easier to remember by people.

This small island located in the waters of District Sambelia (50km north of the city Selong) and can be reached via the beach in District Sambelia Transat (about 25 minutes) and the port of Heaven Labuhan Lombok (about 45 minutes). Although the black sand beach Transat but in earthen lamps and some surrounding white sandy beaches.

The climate in these “Three Islands” are drier and hotter than mainland Lombok, but in the evening can be cool and refreshing. The rainy season is starting from the month of November to April.

The three islands, of course can be as challenging, beautiful and comfortable area to enjoy the panoramic view with many kind of birds, its white sand beaches that lie, including superb coral reefs.
Most foreign tourists who visited the three islands, making it as a transit point before continuing the journey to the East Island, East Nusa Tenggara or Bali.

In the future they will be expected become excellent tourism destination to be developed, as well as other tourist attractions are also fascinating.
Gili Condo has a beautiful under water view which is not inferior to Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.. If you want to snorkel in this area you will find different types of colorful fishes and spectacular coral reefs.

This tiny island can be reached via a wooden motor boat from the Sea Port of Kayangan at the east coast of Lombok Island, which took about an hour. While the mileage of Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province to Port of Kayangan more than 100 kilometers, or about two hours travel by car.

The Gili Islands of Northwest Lombok – Indonesia

Gili Trawangan : Between White Beaches, Coral Reefs and Party
Gili Trawangan is the largest of Lombok’s Gili Islands and is the only one to rise significantly above sea level. It is 3km long and 2km wide with a population of about 700. Of the Gilis, Trawangan has the most tourist facilities; the pub Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. The most crowded part of Trawangan lies on the eastern side. It is administered under Lombok Barat Regency along with Senggigi Beach.

On Gili Trawangan (as well as the other two Gilis), there are no motorized vehicles. The main means of transportation are bicycles (rented by locals to tourists) and cidomo (a small horsedrawn carriage). For traveling to and from each of the Gilis, locals usually use motorized boats and speedboats.

Some of the first inhabitants of Gili Trawangan were from Sulawesi who are fishermen and farmers. Previously Gili Trawangan was covered in forest and deer lived on the island. (Source: Inhabitants of Gili Trawangan — no printed source available)

The economy of Gili Trawangan centres on tourism, as the island is too small to support any broad scale agriculture, and too remote to allow economically viable industry or commerce.

There are now seven dive operators on the island which run a full range of PADI courses, starting from the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) course or the Open Water, right up to Instructor courses at certain times during the year. The schools organise Fun Dives with local dive masters who have a wealth of knowledge about each site.

There seems to be a dive centre for everyone, whether you like the hustle and bustle of a big busy school like Blue Marlin or Manta Dive, or more relaxed smaller groups at laid back schools such as Vila Ombak Diving Academy and Trawangan Dive. There are also some schools which are more tailored to French speaking divers (Big Bubble) and German speaking divers (Dream Divers).

The diving is very easy and varies from walls, slopes and plateaus. The maximum depths at many of the sites range from 24m-18m, making it perfect for beginners and more experienced divers alike. Almost all the dive sites can be reached by boat in 10 minutes and all the dive shops are located on the beach front making access very easy.

Some of the fascinating marine life you may see include: black and white tip sharks, turtles, frog fish, leaf fish, ghost pipe fish, moray and ribbon eels, pygmy seahorse, eagle rays, octopus, cuttlefish, snakes and bumphead parrot fish.

Snorkeling in the waters off Gili Trawangan is very easy and doesn’t require a boat. Simply walk into the clear blue waters from the beach and you’re away! The main snorkeling area is along the main beach area, but there are other less busy areas with great snorkeling to be found up and down the east and northeast sides of the island.

Along the main beach front there is usually an easy current which takes you along making snorkeling all the more easy as you drift with the current, get out at the end, and walk back up the beach and start again.

A host of amazing marine life can be found while snorkeling, ranging from parrot fish, moorish idols and puffer fish, to barracuda, trumpet fish and baby cuttlefish, and if you’re really lucky, turtles!

Masks, snorkels, fins and life jackets can be found for rent all along the beach front.

Gili Meno : Quite Beaches and The Only Blue Coral Reefs in Asia
Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s three Gilis. It has a population of about 400, mainly concentrated on the center of the island. The main income of the population comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season. Until a few years ago there was also a small production of seaweed on the reef at the north end of the island. It has swimming beaches all around the island, as well as an impressive bird sanctuary.

The island attracts fewer tourists than Gili Trawangan and is the quietest and smallest of the Gilis. However, honeymooners are often drawn to the crystal clear water and idyllic, secluded white beaches.

There is no fresh water on the island, it is imported daily. Electricity is supplied by generators, although there are plans for renewable energy sources to be developed. There are also no cars or motorbikes and only a limited number of tourist accommodation options.

The second island between G. Air and G. Trawangan. The most quiet island and probably the water is cleanest.
Electricity is available 24 hours but very unstable. The water system has not been installed to this island therefore most of cheap hotels use light salty water and only expensive hotels buy pure water from the main land but most

The boats from Lombok arrive at the East coast of the island. The accommodation is spread m ainly to S(left as you land) and some to North

Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s famous three Gilis. It has a population of about 400, mainly concentrated on the center of the island. The main income of the population comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season.

With a population of just 300, Gili Meno is the mellowest of the three islands, and certainly the most in-tune with a desert island ethic. The beaches are much nicer than you will find on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.

A coastal path leads all the way around the island, and can be covered at a very leisurely pace in 90 minutes. Most of the tourist facilities, including the boat arrival and departure point, are on the southern part of the east coast.

There is a lake on the western side of the middle of the island. This is sometimes quite full, and at others very dry. It is though always very saline.

From Lombok
Public boats depart from Bangsal between 8AM-5PM, take about 30 minutes, and cost Rp 10,000. They depart only when there are enough people (normally a minimum of 15). Dedicated boats to Gili Meno are few and far between, and best looked for early in the mornings and mid-afternoon. The boat office at Bangsal will though make sure you get dropped off by a Gili Trawangan-bound boat if necessary. A chartered boat from Bangsal to Gili Meno will cost about Rp 200,000.

Perama has a tiny office on Gili Meno at Kontiki Cottage. They offer daily transfers to and from Senggigi, but these may not run direct outside the peak seasons, and you may be diverted to Gili Trawangan.

From Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno
Public inter-island boats run twice daily. The morning boat leaves Gili Air at about 8:30AM arriving in Meno at 8.45AM. The same boat goes onto Gili Trawangan picking up there at 9.30AM, and returning to Gili Meno at 9:45AM. The afternoon boat runs the same route leaving Gili Air at 3PM and Gili Trawangan at about 3:30PM. The fare from either of the other islands to Gili Meno should be about Rp 20,000, but is prone to impromptu fluctuations.

A charter boat from Gili Trawangan or Gili Meno will cost about Rp 200,000 – a relatively huge sum of money for a 10 minute ride.

It is hard to imagine why anyone on Gili Meno would want to do anything other than walk. Do just that, slowly. Horse carts (cidomos) are available though, and are useful for getting you and your bags to and from the boat landing. A single trip should cost Rp 40,000-60,000.

* Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary
A splendid initiative whereby green sea turtle and loggerhead turtle eggs are collected, hatched, and the younglings safely released into the ocean. In 2008 and 2009, a total of 2,000 turtles were released. Go along, see the work and lend your support. Donation. edit

* Taman Burung (Bird Park)
Sadly, this aviary is not as well kept as it was, and the formerly very popular komodo dragon died in 2007. Still worth a visit though, with a large range of birds present. Rp 50,000.

Gili Air Lombok – Nice Quite Beaches and Spectacular Coral Reefs
Gili Air is the smallest of the Gilis and it’s closest to the Lombok mainland, making it popular with honeymoon couples and travelers seeking a quiet retreat. It has a population of about 1,000 and administratively lies in the West Nusa Tenggara province. The island offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving off its east coast, and turtles can be seen along the coral reef.

The island still maintains its rural charm, as tourism is relatively new. In the early eighties it was backpackers who first discovered the three little islands of Air, Meno and Trawanggan, (gili, means small island) and basically not much has changed on Gili Air since then except that the level of services and facilities has grown little by little over the years.

Coconut Cottages and The Frangipani Garden Restaurant are located in a Coconut grove on the east coast of Gili Air only 100m from the beach where you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling on the island. Coconut was opened in 1992 by Kamil and his Scottish wife Elaine and together with their family hope to make your stay on the island relaxing and enjoyable.

The island of Gili Air is, with approximately 1,800 inhabitants, the most densely populated island of the archipelago made up of three small atolls (Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan). The local inhabitants (the Sasak) are very kind and hospitable to tourists.
Muslim is the prevailing religion, and is observed assiduously by the inhabitants of the island. Their religious ideas are in no way disturbed by the comparison with other cultures, customs and different uses, above all from western cultures.

The island economy has only recently been transformed from the fish market to a prevalently tourist market. There are continually new small resorts and restaurants springing up, which last just one season, whilst others, with greater experience, manage to establish themselves, and provide modest and primitive services that are of great interest to the tourists arriving on the island, in search of primitive adventures.

A holiday on the island of Gili Air will long be impressed on the visitor’s mind, as a kind of ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ that still exists on earth

The Sasak are worth noting for their splendid rites and their beautiful dances.
On the island, the only means of transport are the cidomo, which are small horse-drawn carts that transport people from one part of the island to another.
Gili Air has rich tropical vegetation, with many coconut palm trees, and is one of the most beautiful and still unpolluted natural areas.


Senggigi Beach Lombok – Indonesia

Senggigi Beach – Lombok Best Resort Area and Surfing Spots
Senggigi is the main tourist destination on mainland Lombok. It is traversed by a single two lane road that follows the west coast of the island from south of Ampenan and continues northward to circumnavigate the north of Lombok.

Senggigi is is on the West Coast of Lombok about 15-20 minutes north of the island’s capital Mataram and nearby airport. Airport Taxis (by fixed price coupon) charge Rp 83,500 (Jan 2010) for the trip Mangsit and Rp 57,500 to central Senggigi. In daylight hours the bemos will cover the distance for around Rp 2,500 from near the airport entrance gate to Pasar Ampenan and then Rp 5,000 for a second Bemo up the coast to Senggigi plus extra charges for any larger items of luggage carried.

Some of the larger Hotels offer pick up transfers to and from the Airport. You will need to book ahead for this.

Some visitors travelling from nearby Bali prefer the option of taking a fast boat across from Bali direct to the Gili Islands and Senggigi. Travel agents or the operators can normally assist with any necessary transfers.

If you are frugal or intrepid and take the slow ferry from Bali, it’s best to arrange transport in advance from the ferry dock to Senggigi, since the Lembar port on the Lombok side is in a remote spot several kilometers well south of Mataram. Travel agents on Bali offer transport from any point in southern Bali to Senggigi, including the ferry ticket, for about Rp 140,000.

Get around
Bemos, a small, covered pick-up truck with narrow but padded seating benches in the rear are the main means of short and medium distance transport in rural and coastal Lombok. They can be hailed down on all larger streets and will happily take you even short hops around Senggigi. Fares are inexpensive.

An approximate fare (January 2010) from Senggigi to the produce markets in Ampenan is Rp 4,500-5,500/person. Prices for set distances vary at times but if the price of fuel has risen or it is in short supply causing roadside price fluctuations then the Bemo prices will often follow. Try and watch what local customers are paying for a similar distance to your own and if really in doubt just include Rp 1,000-2,000 extra. If ‘chartering’ an empty Bemo to a particular destination be careful to clarify the exact amount of payment required prior to getting into the vehicle.

Many Bemo drivers are reluctant to venture further up the West Coast than the northern end of Mangsit Village as the passenger densities drop dramatically from there on. The driver may want to turn back at this point if he does not have sufficient passengers.

Bemos have normally stopped running by dusk on the West Coast of Lombok.

Travel agents can also get you on semi-regular shuttle services, which connect Senggigi, the airport, and the harbours of Lembar (for Bali) and Bangsal (for the Gilis).

The largest taxi operator is Blue Bird [1] (light blue in colour) and the second operator is Express Taksi (white). Flag fall is approximately Rp 4,250 and the meter ticks up a few hundred rupiah for every hundred meters past 2 km. Figure on Rp 10,000-rp 15,000 for short hops and about Rp 60,000 from Senggigi to Mataram/Cakranegara. Both operators have a radio linked fleet and can be booked in advance either by calling them yourself or by booking through your hotel.

By car
Renting a car is also an option and there are many places to rent from in the Senggigi area. Expect to pay Rp.150,000-175,000 (low end mid-late 1980?s Suzuki mini jeep-Jimmy (2×4) to Rp.400,000 for a Toyota Kijang (2×4) or Izuzu Panther (2×4).

By motorbike
To hire a motrobike, expect to pay around Rp 50,000 (October 2009) for most models and possibly more in peak season when demand for rentals can be very high.

By ojek
Prices are negotiable but a rule of thumb is Rp 5,000 Rupiah if the destination is nearby.

By horse cart
Horse-pulled carts, known as Cidomo, are very common arond Senggigi and all across Lombok. They are a good method of transportation for short distances e.g, from your hotel to a restaurant. Make sure to agree on the price before the journey – Rp10,000 is the maximum price to pay for a short journey.

By boat
Traditional fishing boats known as perahu ply the waters around Lombok, and are instantly recognizable due to their outriggers, two lengths of extra large Bamboo sealed at either end and attached by bars on both sides like a catamaran affording greater stability in heavy swells. They can also be chartered on the Senggigi beaches, either directly from owners (in which case some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Sasak will come in handy) or via any travel agent, who will of course take an often generous commission.

By bicycle
Traffic is relatively light throughout the island so travel by bicycle is quite possible and provides a very different cultural experience to other means of transport.

What to See
* Pura Batu Bolong, 2 km south of Senggigi. Small Hindu temple located in a scenic spot at a cape overlooking Senggigi beach, named after a rock (batu) with a hole (bolong). At the tip is an empty chair representing Brahma, the god of creation. Free entry, but you’ll have to ‘borrow’ a sash (Rp5,000 a throw) from one of the urchins if you don’t have one already. Sunsets seen from here can be very impressive.

* Senggigi Beach. A spit of sand stretching out from central Senggigi, this is Senggigi’s raison d’etre but, by Indonesian standards, it’s not all that spectacular. The beach is a little dirty, the hawkers are a nuisance and the Senggigi Beach Resort has grabbed most of the land. Some local surfers brave the smallish waves. The sunsets can be very beautiful.

* Senggigi is a popular launch point for other activities on Lombok. Without the hassle of Mataram, you can visit several other locations and come back to the same hotel each night. Tour operators can arrange these trips for you at around Rp. 350,000 for the day for a private car and driver or cheaper if you go with a group.

* Kerangdangan Beach. On Sunday afternoons Kerangdangan beach is a popular destination for Lombok residents. They go there to wander about and socialise or sit on the sandy beach or grassy area behind the warungs. People often take a swim in the sea and later eat satay and other snacks made by Kerandangan villagers and sold in the beachfront warungs. There are also two small and more expensive venues with informal outdoor dining in a cluster of small baruga’s with big cushions and relaxed service. They are set a little back from the beach and are open most days and nights. Full menus are available at these two venues and they offer an interesting alternative to the Senggigi township offerings.

* Popular excursions that can be done in a day trip include:
* Village visits, including weaving villages and other handicraft-producers
* Waterfall visits

What to Do
Most activities around Senggigi revolve around diving, snorkelling, and hiking. There are some surf shops in town, but there are reportedly better areas on Lombok for surfing. Traditional therapeutic massages are provide by local Sasak women both on the beaches, including Mangsit beach and in the Hotels. At Windy Beach Cottages at the far north end of Mangsit Beach local village women have an arrangement to use a comfortable screened baruga in the Hotel grounds. Enquiries can be made at reception or by yourself on the beach if not perturbed by interested beach traders. If arriving by road bookings can be made at the Cellphone shop opposite the entrance to Windy Beach Cottages or contact Mangsit Beach Massage 081917429081. Santai Beach Cottages at the southern end of Mangsit beach is also a good place to enquire. Again just ask at the reception desk and they will summon one of the local traditional masseurs for you. They will provide a nice beachside massage and fresh juices and tea can ordered from the hotel. Beach Spa treatments are also available around Senggigi and within some of the hotels. Fishing charters are available and some of the hotels rent bicycles for riding around the Senggigi precinct.

What to Buy
Lombok-style woodenware, decorated with local creatures and geometrical patterns in shades of black, brown and red, is sold in several shops in town. The tall masks are quite distinctive, though potentially difficult to get on the plane home. Boxes and bowls are also numerous. It’s not as intricate and refined as Balinese arts, but it has a distinctive look and charm, and is quite inexpensive. Make sure you are aware of your home countries import and quarantine restrictions as some require wood to be fumigated and inspected for ‘pests’. Australia for example has very strict regulations and failing to declare many items including those made of timber, seeds and some shell items may lead to heavy penalties and confiscation. Check your countries import regulations and do not forget to declare the goods on the way in when you get back home or in ‘transit’ countries if you are clearing customs.

Persistent hawkers push Komodo freshwater pearls on tourists, and will follow you for the length of the town. The pearls are quite pretty as costume jewelry, and make nice gifts or souvenirs, but the hawkers play on a misunderstanding of their market value. They will often quote a starting price of around Rp 300,000 (more than US$30) for a strand, though they can be had for as little as Rp 35,000. Pearls for sale on the street tend to be the left-overs of the industry, with more flaws and variations in shape. Longer strands cost more. Better quality strands (rounder, more uniform pearls with fewer flaws) ought to cost more, though the hawkers seem not very sensitive regarding quality and will let you pretty much pick the one you want. There are also many handycraft items available as well as sometimes very good copies of antique artefacts such as Kris and many small traditional Sasak, Hindu and Buddhist items from Lombok’s past as well as from nearby Sumbawa, Bima and Bali

If you lose your watch or sunglasses, never fear. Street vendors are always at hand to provide a replacement.
* Senggigi Square.
* Senggigi Plaza.

Where Eat
There are plenty of eating options in Senggigi, with a surprising array of Western-style dishes on the menu. Alas, local chefs are often better with the names than the recipes for Western favorites, and seem to follow a philosophy of “when in doubt, add more butter.” Promotors will follow you along the street offering business cards, 10% discounts, and free “cocktails” to draw you in. Beware of discount offers, and before you bite, ask if VAT and service will be added to the bill. A promised 10% discount can quickly become a 10% surcharge after they hit you with tax and service.

Budget Restaurant
* Cafe Tenda is on Jl. Senggigi Raya opposite Senggigi Abadi supermarket and the BNI bank and ATM. Cafe Tenda offers traditional local dining at very reasonable prices and has an interesting menu. The BBQ fish and their Nasi Goreng Seafood is good. The BBQ chicken dishes are a little small but tasty. Local sambal is served with meals and a tomato salad can be ordered. They have many juice drinks and cold beer. It is dining “tenda” (under a tent) sitting at rough plywood tables set back a little from the road. Closed Sundays opens at dusk often until very late and is very popular with locals and visitors alike.

* Windy Beach Cottages Restaurant.[2] in Mangsit at the far northern end of the beach has a varied menu with many Indonesian dishes and a full bar. Dining is in the restaurant dining area or at Barugas doted about the hotel grounds overlooking the beach. Lovely beach with great sunsets viewed from the gardens

* Santai Beach Inn [3] at Mangsit Beach at the far southern end. Was in established in Mangsit before the road even reached that far. Has a book exchange and dining in a large traditional Baruga seated at a long communal table. Bookings in advance are essential as they have a set daily menu and cater to a set number of diners. Vegetarian and seafood based Indonesian food, fresh juices and cold beer available. 2010 prices Lunch Rp 30,000 Dinner Rp 45,000, 2009 prices Lunch Rp 25,000 Dinner Rp 55,000.

* Pak Ismail’s eating house. On Jl. Raya Montong south of Hotel Jayakarta but before the turn off Gunung Sari and on the opposite side to the beach. Pak Ismail is from Bandung in Jawa and he has a Sundanese influence to his food. It is a traditional Indonesian eating house or restaurant and has a very good menu of traditional Indonesian food. No prices on the menu, you have to ask.

Mid-range Restaurant
* Bale Tajuk, Jl. Senggigi Raya. Small but popular eatery offering a range of local and Western dishes, including a fairly decent Lombok-style ayam taliwang (Rp20,000).

* The Office is a tourist-oriented restaurant on the water behind the market near the Sheraton. Its barn-style building is attractive, but the food is hit-and-miss and rather expensive. The soto ayam and chicken sandwich are pretty good though. They have a pool table a nice view of the beach and cold beer.

* Papaya Cafe on Jl.Senggigi Raya not far from the Perama Office is worth it for decent Chinese or Italian food. Rp 35,000 to 50,000 will get a good main course. The atmosphere is rustic and clean. live music plays every night after 20:00. The sound level can be a bit excessive for dinnertime conversation.

* Cafe Bumbu on Jl. Senggigi Raya, just in front of Papaya Cafe is worth for decent Thai style food. Rp 3,000 to 50,000 will get a good main course. During the night it provides candle light tables.

* Taman is on Jl. Senggigi Raya near the Senggigi Beach Hotel. It has nice Indonesian, Western and Indian food for a decent price. Expect Rp, 30,000 for lunch for a main dish.

* Yessy Cafe is on Jl. Senggigi Raya near the Sheraton Hotel. It has nice Indonesian, Western and Thai food for a decent price. Expect Rp, 30,000 for a main dish. Friendly staffs with free transport from / to hotel.

* Coco Beach Hidden away on near the beach at the far end of Kerangdangan Beach just north of the Senggigi township. Mixed menu with Indonesian and European style food. Cold beer and other refreshments available.

Splurge / Luxury Restaurant
* Asmara. On Jl. Raya Senggigi has a very good reputation amongst the expat community and European vistors. They also bake bread to take out.

* Ye Jeon, Senggigi Plaza 2F. Korean restaurant, especially given that it’s probably the only one in all Lombok. Single dishes are reasonable (try the bibimbap, Rp35,000) but sets with a full spread of banchan appetizers are pricier at Rp80,000 and up, with 21% service/tax slapped on top. It may disappoint some people familiar with Korean food. There is an eclectic range of souvenir items available on their ground floor level.

* De Quake, Pasar Senggigi, Modern, minimalistic, lounge style interior on the beach with beautiful sunset view. Upstairs food, downstairs reserved for drinks and luxurious sunbeds.

* The Square, on the Senggigi Square. The most expensive restaurant in town with a Chef from Bali and excellent service. Dinner sets are good value and offer good mixtures. The upstairs terraces is lounge style and food & drinks are served. Vegetarians may have to get creative to find something other than pasta noodles and tomato sauce, but adaptions to standard dishes are possible. Prices start from around Rp.30,000++.

* Cafe Alberto, Italian and Indonesian cuisine on the beach side with a romantic atmosphere. Pizza and swimming pool, Free WiFi + Free Shuttle available in Senggigi are from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm



Lombok Island – Sister Island of Bali – Indonesia

Lombok (1990 pop. 2,403,025) is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. 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 km² (1,825 sq mi). The administrative capital and largest city on the island is Mataram.

The Dutch first visited Lombok in 1674 and settled the eastern part of the island, leaving the western half to be ruled by a Hindu dynasty from Bali. The Sasaks chafed under Balinese rule, and a revolt in 1891 ended in 1894 with the annexation of the entire island to the Netherlands East Indies.

Geography and demographics
The Lombok Strait marks the passage of the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace, who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biomes.

The island’s topography is dominated by the centrally-located stratovolcano Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3,726 m (12,224 ft), making it the third-highest in Indonesia. The most recent eruption of Rinjani was in June-July, 1994. The volcano, and its sacred crater lake, Lake Segara Anak, are protected by a National Park established in 1997. The southern part of the island is a fertile plain where corn, rice, coffee, tobacco, and cotton are grown.

The island’s inhabitants are 85% Sasak (a people, closely related to the Balinese, but mostly practising Islam), 10-15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese.

Economy and politics
Lombok has much in common with nearby Bali, but less well-known and less-visited by foreigners. It has been working to increase its visibility to tourists in recent years, promoting itself as an “unspoiled Bali”. The most-developed center of tourism is Senggigi, spread in a 10-kilometer strip along the coastal road north of Mataram, while backpackers congregate in the Gili Islands off the west coast. Other popular tourist destinations include Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali) where surfing is considered some of the best in the world by leading surfing magazines. The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, untouched beaches.

While the area may be considered economically depressed by First World standards, the island is fertile, has sufficient rainfall in most areas for agriculture, and possesses a variety of climate zones. Consequently, food in abundant quantity and variety is available inexpensively at local farmer’s markets. A family of 4 can eat rice, vegetables, and fruit for as little as US$0.50. Even though a family income may be as small as US$1.00 per day from fishing or farming, many families are able to live a happy and productive live on astonishingly small incomes.

In early 2000 thousands fled from religious and ethnic violence that swept over the island, and tensions remain. Some travel websites warn that tourists sometimes provoke anger in this economically depressed region. This warning lacks credibility, since all of Lombok has had a long history of welcoming visitors to the island. Both the government and many of the residents recognize that tourism and the services required by tourists is Lombok’s highest source of income. Further proof of the island’s hospitality is show by the fact that tourists are virtually never seriously injured by any interaction with the local population. There is also a refugee camp on the island, costs paid for by Australia, which holds mostly Hazara Afghans who have tried to enter Australia by boat.

* Bangsal – little harbor servicing the Gili Islands
* Kuta – a surfing mecca like its Bali namesake, but that’s where the similarities end
* Lembar – for boats to Bali
* Mataram – the largest city by far
* Senggigi – the main tourist strip, including the neighboring beach of Mangsit

Located just east of Bali, Lombok has been promoted as “an unspoiled Bali” for quite some time, with beautiful beaches and the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani.

The more Islamic culture in Lombok compared than Bali may explain the reason why Lombok is quieter than Bali in terms of parties and nightlife, which can be either a positive or a negative depending on your point of view. Lombok is also becoming increasingly popular for honeymooners.

Lombok’s people are 85% Sasak, culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike Bali’s Hindu they are Muslims. A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu (“Three Prayers”), who as the name suggests pray only three times daily, instead of the five times required in the Quran.

While tropical, hot and humid, Lombok is drier than neighboring Bali, which makes it a particularly attractive option during the October-December rainy season (it rains on Lombok too, but rarely for more than an hour). The peak of the tourist season, though, is May through August.

Get in
By plane
Lombok’s only airport is Mataram’s Selaparang Airport (AMI), which occasionally also shows up in flight schedules as “Ampenan” (hence the seemingly odd airport code). There are frequent connections to Denpasar on Bali (30 min) and Surabaya (1 hour) on Garuda, Merpati and Germania Trisakti (“GT Air”), but only a single flight per day to Jakarta (on Garuda). A flight offered from and to Yogyakarta (on Garuda) is currently not being scheduled anymore. International flights are limited to Kuala Lumpur daily on Merpati and Singapore thrice weekly on Silk Air, with visas available on arrival. Lombok Network maintains a useful, mostly-updated flight schedule listing all flights to the island.

By boat
Slow boats from Padang Bai on Bali leave about every hour for the four- to five-hour trip to Lembar (Rp 35,000). The slow ferries are a bit rusty and dusty, with minimal restroom facilities, and are used mostly by locals, with few tourists on board. Access to the passenger deck is usually from the vehicle deck via steep and narrow stairs, so maneuvering heavy luggage is a challenge. Would-be porters wait by the docks, and will happily carry your stuff for Rp 10,000 per item. Sometimes they insist on doing so even when you don’t ask. They can be a bit intimidating, and sometimes try