Lombok, the unspoiled island
Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It forms 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” (Sekotong Peninsula) to the southwest, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) across and a total area of about 4,514 square kilometres (1,743 square miles). The provincial capital and largest city on the island is Mataram. It is somewhat similar in size and density with neighboring Bali and shares some cultural heritage, but is administratively part of Nusa Tenggara Barat along with sparsely populated Sumbawa. It is surrounded by a number of smaller islands locally called Gili. The island was home to some 3.35 million Indonesians as recorded in the decennial 2014 census; the Census 2014 resulting the population as 3,352,988.
Tourism is an important source of income on Lombok. The most developed tourism area of the island is on the west coast of the island and is centered about the township of Senggigi. The immediate surrounds of the township contain the most developed tourism facilities. The west coast coastal tourism strip is spread along a 30 kilometres (19 miles) strip following the coastal road north from Mataram and the old airport at Ampenan. The principal tourism area extends to Tanjung in the northwest at the foot of Mount Rinjani and includes the Sire and Medana Peninsulas and the highly popular Gili Islands lying immediately offshore. These three small islands are most commonly accessed by boat from Bangsal near Pemenang, Teluk Nare a little to the south, or from further south at Senggigi and Mangsit beach. Many hotels and resorts offer accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious.
Recently direct fast boat services have been running from Bali making a direct connection to the Gili islands. Although rapidly changing in character, the Gili islands still provide both a lay-back backpacker’s retreat and a high class resort destination.
Other tourist destinations include Mount Rinjani, Gili Bidara, Gili Lawang, Narmada Park and Mayura Park and Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali). Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, is popular for its numerous and diverse scuba diving locations.
The Kuta area is also famous for its largely deserted, white sand beaches. The Small town is rapidly developing since the opening of the International airport in Praya. Increasing amounts of surfers from around the globe come here seeking out perfect surf and the slow and rustic feel Lombok. South Lombok surfing is considered some of the best in the world. Large polar lows push up through the Indian Ocean directing long range, high period swell from as far south as Heard Island from late March through to September or later. This conicides with the dry season and South-East trade winds that blow like clock work. Lombok is famous for its diversity of breaks, which includes world-renowned Desert Point at Banko Banko in the southwest of the island. The northern west coast near Tanjung has many new upmarket hotel and villa developments centreed about the Sire and Medana peninsular nearby to the Gili islands and a new boating marina at Medana bay. These new developments complement the already existing 5 star resorts and a large golf course already established there.