Lombok, Indonesia

Horse-drawn carts amble along the streets, and cows, goats and chickens graze and squawk everywhere: this island is back-to-nature in a big way, with scenic beauty to spare. Craggy cliffs are dotted with coconut trees; too-blue waters conceal abundant marine life; gorgeously baskable beaches are edged with palm groves and traditional thatched huts. Senggigi, the main tourist resort, is a 10-kilometre strip of low-rise beach life to the north of capital Mataram; surfers should head for Kuta and its magnificent white-sand strand. In a nutshell, Lombok is a bit like Bali, but far less commercialised and without the tourist infrastructure – and that's the way we like it.

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When to go

Lombok is an attractive year-round destination, with a drier climate than Bali’s; October to January is the ‘rainy season’, but showers are infrequent and don’t last for very long. High season is June to October, with the tourist influx peaking from July to September.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    By air | international travellers will thank themselves for flying in via Singapore (www.singaporeair.com) or Kuala Lumpur rather than Jakarta. Silkair (www.silkair.com) has three flights a week from Singapore; Garuda | Merpati | Transnusa Trigana | Lion Air and Batavia Air run domestic shuttles from major Indonesian cities. Arrange a transfer from Mataram’s Selaparang Airport (aka Ampenan) with your hotel | or take a taxi – fares are fixed.
  • Boats

    If you’re coming from Bali, a trip by slow boat or fast ferry will take between one and four hours, depending where you leave from and what class of vessel you take. Bali-based Perama Tours (www.peramatours.com) provides a daily service on a new passenger liner from Bali to Lombok. Look out for (ie, avoid) the ‘porters’ who wait by the docks and enthusiastically insist on carrying your luggage for a steep fee. There are also catamaran services direct to the Gilis (www.gilicat.com).
  • Automobiles

    Renting a car and a driver is by far the best way to explore Lombok in a leisurely fashion. We recommend Trac-Astra Rent A Car (www.trac.astra.co.id) | or ask your hotel to make arrangements.
  • Taxis

    Taxis in Lombok are cheap and painlessly flag-downable in busy or touristy areas; do check that your ride is metered. We like Blue Bird Taxi (+62 (0)370 627000). Cidomos, the traditional horse carts, can also be a good way to get around, particularly on the Gili islands, where motorised transport is prohibited. Remember to bargain hard before your ride, not after. You’ll also see bemos, the minivan taxis commonly used for longer journeys.