Sire

Sire

Sire

Fast becoming Lombok’s most upmarket enclave, the jutting Sire (or Sira) peninsula is blessed with gorgeous, broad white-sand beaches and good snorkelling offshore. Three opulent resorts are now established here, alongside a couple of fishing villages and some amazing private villas. There’s one wonderful boutique midrange property in the mix, too. Look out for the small Hindu temple, just beyond the Oberoi resort, which has shrines built into the coastal rocks and sublime ocean views.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/sire

Gili Meno

Gili Meno

Gili-Meno

Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and the perfect setting for your Robinson Crusoe fantasy. Even in high season Meno still feels delightfully tranquil. Most accommodation is strung out along the east coast, near the widest and most picturesque beach. Inland you’ll find scattered homesteads, coconut plantations and a salty lake.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/gili-meno

Kuta

Kuta

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Imagine a crescent bay, turquoise in the shallows and deep blue further out. It licks a huge, white-sand beach, as wide as a football pitch and framed by headlands. It’s deserted, save for a few fishermen, seaweed farmers and their children. Now imagine a coastline of nearly a dozen such bays, all backed by a rugged range of coastal hills spotted with lush patches of banana trees and tobacco fields, and you’ll have a vague idea of Kuta’s majesty.

Southern Lombok’s incredible coastline of giant bite-shaped bays is startling, its beauty immediate, undeniable and arresting. Yet this region has historically been the island’s poorest, its sun-blasted soil parched and unproductive. These days those hills are also pocked with illegal, undocumented gold mines, which you’ll see and hear grinding away as you head west to the surf beaches.

Kuta proper consists of no more than a few hundred houses, a likeable but scruffy-around-the-edges place with a ramshackle market area, and a seafront lined with simple seafood shacks and barefoot bars (and some very persistent, if sweet, child hawkers). Its original attraction were the limitless world-class breaks within a short ride of town. For now everyone seems to be sitting on their land, but with the new airport a 30-minute ride away, the town’s real-estate agents – who are already spearheading increasing villa development – are betting on change real soon.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/kuta

Gili Air

Gili Air

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Closest to Lombok, Gili Air falls between Gili T’s sophistication and less-is-more Meno. It has both space and life. Air was the first Gili to be settled by Bugis and Sasak fishing families, and there remains a strong, rural community in place. Though tourism does dominate the island’s economy today, coconuts and fishing remain vital income streams. The white-sand beaches here are arguably the best of the Gili bunch. Snorkelling is good right from the main strip – a lovely sandy lane dotted with bamboo bungalows and little restaurants where you can eat virtually on top of a turquoise sea.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/gili-air

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

Gili-Trawangan

Well, the secret is definitely out. Long an obscure speck in the big blue, Gili Trawangan has become a paradise of global repute, ranking alongside Bali and Borobudur as one of Indonesia’s essential destinations. Settled just 50 years ago (by Bugis fishermen from Sulawesi), travellers arrived in the 1980s, seduced by the white-sand beaches, and coral reefs. By the 1990s Trawangan had mutated into a kind of tropical Ibiza, a stoney idyll where you could rave away from the eyes of the Indonesian police. And then the island began to grow up – resident Western hedonists morphed into entrepreneurs and diving became more important to the island economy than partying.

Today Trawangan’s main drag boasts a glittering roster of lounge bars, hip hotels and cosmopolitan restaurants, mini-marts and dive schools. And yet behind this glitzy facade, a bohemian character endures, with rickety warung and reggae joints surviving between the cocktail tables. But even as massive 200+ room hotels begin to colonise the wild and ragged west coast, you can head just inland to a village laced with sandy lanes roamed by free-range roosters, kibbitzing ibu (mothers) and wild-haired kids playing hopscotch. Here the call of the muezzin, not happy hour, defines the time of day.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/gili-trawangan

Mataram

Mataram

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Lombok’s capital is a blending sprawl of several (once separate) towns with fuzzy borders: Ampenan (the port); Mataram (the administrative centre); Cakranegara (the business centre, often called simply ‘Cakra’) and Bertais and Sweta to the east, where you’ll find the bus terminal. Stretching for 12km from east to west it’s home to half a million people. There aren’t many tourist attractions, Senggigi is close by, and the airport has moved too, so unless you’re booking plane tickets (easily done elsewhere) or need a hospital there isn’t any reason to visit, much less stay the night. Yet Mataram’s broad tree lined avenues buzz with bemo, thrum with motorbike traffic and are teeming with classic markets. If you’re hungry for a blast of Indo realism, you’ll find it here.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/mataram

Senggigi

Senggigi

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Lombok’s only bona fide tourist resort, Senggigi enjoys a spectacular location along a series of sweeping bays, with white-sand beaches sitting pretty below a backdrop of jungle-clad mountains and coconut palms. In the late afternoon a setting blood-red sun sinks into the surf next to the giant triangular cone of Bali’s Gunung Agung.

Tourist numbers are relatively modest here, except in high season, and you’ll find some excellent-value hotels and restaurants. Still, the tacky main strip could look more appealing, the influx of bar girls is an issue, and the resident beach hawkers can be over-persistent. The Senggigi area spans 10km of coastal road; the upscale neighbourhood of Mangsit is 3km north of central Senggigi.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/nusa-tenggara/senggigi

– Lombok

Lombok

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Lombok is the most popular destination in Nusa Tenggara, with the fabled Gili Islands drawing visitors for action both in and out of the water, mighty Gunung Rinjani luring trekkers, and the big breaks on the south coast a magnet for surfers. Matram, Lombok’s capital, is a good spot for day trips to the surrounding areas, and nearby Senggigi is superbly positioned along a stretch or sweeping bays. In east Lombok, the very scenic Sumbawa offers low key tourism and some good surf breaks.

The island of Lombok shapes up at about 80km from east to west and about the same from north to south, with lush evergreen landscapes and parts which are chronically dry. Droughts, particularly in the south and east, can last for months, causing crop failure and famine – though recent improvements in water management have made life in Lombok less precarious.

Rice is an important crop, though yields are lower here than on neighbouring islands. Tobacco, coconuts, coffee, kapok and cotton are also important crops, while cloves, vanilla, pineapple and pepper have also been introduced.

The indigenous Sasak (around 90% of the population) are Muslims but have a culture and language unique to Lombok. There’s also a significant Hindu Balinese minority – a legacy of the time when Bali controlled Lombok.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/lombok