A Lap Around Lombok
Often overshadowed by it’s glitzy and ever-popular neighbour across the water, Lombok is the explorer’s dream next door. Situated just east of Bali, Lombok is another beautiful gem that makes up the absolute treasure trove that is the Indonesian archipelago. With a gargantuan volcano complete with crater lakes and jungles, gushing waterfalls, world famous surf breaks and isolated paradisiac beaches, it’s definitely worth a few days on your itinerary.
Tiu Kelep and Sendang Gile Waterfalls: Nestled into the mountains of the Senaru region and near the base of Gunung Rinjani, these two natural beauties will have you dribbling in awe. Motorbike hire is pretty scarce around Senaru so your best bet is to get a taxi there, or walk if your accommodation is close enough. Once you arrive, you’ll have to pay a small fee to get into the area which gives you access to Tiu Kelep, the smaller waterfall of the two. To get to Sendang Gile, you’ll need a guide, which costs a little extra but the result is pretty incredible. If you’re on a budget, then just stick to Tiu Kelep; this is an easy 10 minute walk which you can do by yourself and you’ll still leave feeling amazed. I’d definitely recommend exploring the area around Tiu Kelep too because the surrounding rivers and jungles are beautiful!
Kuta: Poles apart from Bali’s Kuta, this ramshackle surfers paradise is easy going and picturesque. The long stretch of white beach is peppered with surf huts and palm trees, while the buzzy roads out the back have a friendly atmosphere and a great selection of cheap bars and eateries. Kuta is a great place to stay while exploring Lombok’s southern beaches as it’s a lot more geared towards travellers than any other parts we saw and is fairly central to all the best spots. We stayed at the Lemon Tree Bungalows – a small but very friendly family owned hostel with cute huts, a pool and free banana pancakes. We also discovered the largest lizard we’ve ever seen here; his name is Goliath and he likes to hang around the beautiful outdoor bathrooms – so keep your eyes peeled.
When you’re finished beaching for the day, grab a couple of bintangs from the local kids and head up to the rocky outcrops to the west of the beach for the best sunset seat in the house.
Mawun Beach: A 15 minute scooter ride from Kuta, Mawun sits just west along the southern coast of Lombok. The beach combines a half-moon bay of white sand (and hundreds of colourful shells) with bright blue water and vivid green hills surrounding the area. Although beautiful, the beach is incredibly quiet and has an amazing untouched feel about it. Hopefully it will stay that way and keep it’s natural charm. If you’re planning on spending the day there, I’d bring drinks and snacks along with you as there’s very little to offer here.
Tanjung Aan: Although a slightly trickier drive to get to due to the lack of real road, Tanjung Aan beach is another impossibly beautiful bay with you guessed it; white sand and turquoise sea. There’s a big rocky outcrop right in the middle of the bay and once you reach the top, the views are pretty breathtaking. This spot is popular with surfers but generally remains fairly quiet. I’d recommend visiting this dreamy pocket of the world sooner rather than later though, as it’s earmarked for hotel and resort development and is occasionally inundated with busloads of tourist groups.
Mount Rinjani: Another addition to the Lombok list is the colossal volcanic giant that you probably would’ve clocked all the way over in Bali. Mount Rinjani is Indonesia’s second largest mountain and a huge hit with tourists from all over the world. The most popular trek here is a 3 day trip and it’s no easy feat so brace yourself for a bit of hard work. Embarrassingly, we never actually made it up the top but instead got “stuck” at a beautiful spa hotel called Rinjani Lodge, which is definitely worth checking out before or after your trek. It seemed like a pretty good idea to us at the time!
The Gili Islands: My final recommendation while in Lombok is to explore one of my favourite places in the world – the wonderful Gili islands. Prepare to set some time aside for these beauties; I intended on staying for 1 week and it quickly turned into 5. Whether you’re looking for an isolated picture perfect paradise, a scuba divers and snorkelers heaven or somewhere to boogie the night away, you’ll find your match in one of the three Gili islands. For more information and pictures of my 5 weeks in the Gilis, check out my Bali blog.
If all else fails, grab your hog, ride off into the distance and explore the good old fashioned way and get lost.