Lombok is an island in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. Located just east of Bali, Lombok in many ways lives up to or exceeds the promotional term, "an unspoiled Bali". With beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is indeed the paradisaical tropical island that many people still mistakenly imagine Bali to be now. Lombok and Bali are separated by the Lombok Strait.
South Lombok, in general, presents itself as a relaxed place and travelers of all interests (not only divers) can find a very tropical and enjoyable region to visit. One will find beautiful white sandy beaches, simple to more luxurious accommodations, friendly locals, and lots of nature and relaxation.
There are 3 unique regions in the south of Lombok, Sekotong, Belongas Bay, and Kuta Bay;
- Sekotong is a tropical little place with not much topside activity other than maybe renting a motorbike and exploring the coastline, snorkeling, swimming, or of course scuba diving. It's quite perfect for couples and families who just want to relax and enjoy. There isn't much touristic infrastructure (although it’s developing fairly quickly), but most accommodations have an adjacent restaurant so no one will need to go hungry (or thirsty). The scuba diving it's relaxed, colorful reef diving at very intact reefs and lots of macro life can be found.
- Belongas Bay, the place where the misconceptions actually come from, is truly only for the more adventures traveler and diver. The region is basically in the middle of nowhere, and the locals don't see very much tourism there. So don't be surprised if you are approached in a quite curious manner, for some this might even feel a little disturbing. The diving around this region can prove to be very challenging (especially during the dry season from July till October), but also can be very rewarding in a sense of pelagic life. This is for the experienced diver.
- Kuta Bay is comparable to Sekotong (from the diving aspect), but offers more infrastructure and topside possibilities such as, cafes, restaurants, and accommodations. The diving there is well suited for all levels of experience, and the dive shops there also have pool facilities etc. available for all levels of courses. But it should be mentioned that Kuta is best for diving during the rainy season (November till April), as during the dry season it's subject to wind and waves (hence the time surfers love the place).
[Photo credit: DiveZone Lombok]
- Most diving takes place around the Gili islands in the strait between Lombok and Bali. Expect to se a vast array of rich underwater life ranging from sharks, Eagle Rays, turtles and Manta Rays.
- Senggigi Beach, East Lombok
- Blongas, where there are a lot of currents and swells and large pelagics.
- “The Magnet”, in South-East Lombok, is a pinnacle in the open sea. It rises from a depth of about 80m and can be reached in approximately 25 minutes from the mainland. Diving there, the seasonable sighting of schooling hammerhead sharks, barracudas, tunas, and other pelagic life is, fairly regular, and also mola mola have occasionally been sighted. For experienced divers only!
- South Lombok is uncommon amongst the other dive locations around Lombok. Here, you can still find diving as a distinct experience and exclusive dive sites with the chance to explore undiscovered waters. These new dive sites offer even the well-traveled and experienced diver a surprising and breathtaking experience, and due to the great variety of dive sites, there is exciting diving for all levels of training.
- 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 or two). The peak of the tourist season, though, is May through August.
- Visitors arriving in Lombok from a point of origin outside Indonesia and clearing customs and immigration at Lombok's Selaparang Airport may require the purchase of a visa on arrival (VOA). As of January 2010, the only type of visa on arrival available is US$25.00 for 30 days. This may be extended later at the local Immigration office for a further once only period of up to 30 days. (The previous 7 day visa on arrival is no longer available). Exact change in US dollars is recommended, although a selection of other major currencies including rupiah are accepted, and any change will usually be given in rupiah.
- Malaria has also been present in areas nearby to the tourism precincts of Lombok.
- The environment is also cared for as the Gili Eco Trust collects contributions from visiting divers and snorkellers (40,000 IDR for divers and 20,000 IDR for snorkellers) to fund special projects such as beach cleanups, recycling initiatives and reef conservation activities.
- The roads in south-west Lombok are well maintained, and the scenic drive from Mataram or Lembar is fairly relaxing. The price for transport depends on your talent in bargaining and, therefore, can vary quite a bit. If you calculate around USD 25, you should be able to find a car with a driver without too many problems. In any case, make sure you arrange the price before the journey starts.
- Even though the clean white sandy beaches of Sekotong are amongst the best on Lombok, you will not find many travelers on these beaches. Here it's still possible to take relaxing walks along the beach without meeting annoying sellers trying to sell their watches, necklaces and so on. You also can experience the underwater paradise by snorkeling near one of the beaches or go scuba diving around one of the many small islands in the bay of Sekotong.
- The inhabitants' main source of income in South Lombok is fishing and pearl farming (South Lombok's pearl farms are the main exporter of quality pearls in Indonesia).
|Language:||Bahasa Sasak, although English is common in the resort areas|
|Climate:||Tropical - wet season (Oct to April); dry season (May - Sept)|
|Diving season:||All year|
|Water temperature:||27C to 32C|