Lombok island is the most popular holiday destination in Indonesia’s among world wide travellers and holiday makers. Lombok located East of Bali, it’s take 25 minutes by flight and taking 1 hour by fast boat. The fabled Gili Islands drawing visitors for action both in and out of the water, mighty Mount Rinjani luring climbers, and the big breaks on the south coast a magnet for surfers.
About Lombok Island
Lombok Often touted as the ‘next Bali’, Lombok offers its own unique version of Indonesian culture and society at a much slower pace than its more popular neighbor to the west. In Lombok, there are certainly similarities to Indonesia’s other islands, such as volcanoes, beautiful beaches, clear warm waters, jungle terrain and plenty of traditional villages which have yet to be grossly modernised.
However, the low-key character of Lombok’s tourism means that visitors need to do more of the legwork to find the really special sights on this island. The island’s major highlights, like the 12,000 foot Mount Rinjani and beach resorts at Senggigi and Kuta, are already well into the tourism development phase, making them popular destinations.
Yet conditions rarely reach what could be considered overcrowded and even at the peak of Lombok’s high season, you’ll find far fewer tourists than on neighboring Bali. Most visitors come to Lombok to enjoy the warm weather and lovely beaches. Swimming, snorkelling, diving and surfing are all big activities here, and the sublime Gili Islands just offshore provide even more tropical splendor without the hustle and bustle of other Asian beach resorts.
Balancing the natural beauty of Lombok is an interesting cultural scene defined in part by the traditional Sasak animists which dominated the island before the arrival of Islam in the 18th century. Traditional crafts such as pottery, textile weaving and basket making are practiced with skill and finesse, and a visit to a traditional Sasak village is well worth the effort.
Accommodation in Lombok comes in all classes, from five-star luxury spa resorts, to chain hotels and rustic beach bungalows. Modern and convenient hotel facilities ensure visitor needs are well-catered for.
Lombok makes an ideal destination for travellers who have seen Bali or are tired of Java’s congestion, but aren’t ready to explore the hinterlands of Sulawesi or Flores. If you want to visit Lombok, don’t wait too long; it is on the fast track to becoming one of Asia’s next great travel destinations.
Short History Of Lombok
Lombok’s history began with a group of animist farmers called the Sasak, who created a small kingdom sometime before the 17th century. The Sasak made their way to Lombok long before most of Indonesia’s other ethnic groups settled among the 13,000 odd islands of the archipelago. It is believed that the Sasak migrated from either Burma or northwest India, but few archaeological remains exist to verify this theory.
In the early years, Lombok was made up of dozens of tiny clans, each ruled by a Sasak prince. There was constant fighting among the clans, which the neighbouring Balinese princes used to their advantage when they conquered the island. The Balinese ruled Lombok from the middle of the 1700s until the 1890s, when the Dutch arrived on the scene and backed the indigenous Sasaks. The Balinese were driven out after a series of bloody fights and Lombok became part of the group of islands known as the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Hefty taxes imposed by the Dutch pushed most of Lombok’s peasants into poverty and opened the door for Chinese businessmen to exploit the economic vacuum. Things continued in this rather repressive manner until Indonesia declared its independence in 1945. Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, tried to regroup Lombok into a larger cluster of islands known as Nusa Tenggara, but the island group proved hard to govern.
When Sukarno was ousted in 1965, Lombok was thrust into a dark period of murder and oppression, along with many other parts of Indonesia. Anyone considered subversive by the new government, such as communists and ethnic Chinese, was killed or displaced. Initially the new president Suharto’s rather harsh New Order plan brought growth and stability to the island, until prolonged famine reached a crippling peak in 1973. Most of the locals moved away from Lombok as part of the transmigration programme implemented by the government.
With little agricultural work and few resources, Lombok fell into a quiet lull until 1980 when tourism development began to catch on. Touting itself as a quieter, more natural alternative to Bali, the tourism industry has slowly but steadily grown. Unfortunately, during the wave of development along Lombok’s coastline, many traditional landowners were displaced as outside businesses took over the land.
Indonesia was thrust into political turmoil during the late 1990s, in response to widespread corruption. Lombok was caught up in the civil unrest, and students in Mataram and Praya held protests resulting in a major drop in the tourism industry.
Since the riots in 2000, tourists have continued to arrive in Lombok. Now considered a safe and stable travel destination, Lombok is a popular alternative to its more developed neighbour, Bali.
Climate and Weather
Lying just south of the equator, Lombok consistently enjoys 12 hours of sunlight a day and warm temperatures throughout the year. There are two distinct seasons on the island: the rainy season from October to March and the dry season from May to September. Throughout the year, daytime temperatures normally remain in the 27°C to 32°C range.
Lombok’s rainy season is also when the island experiences its highest levels of humidity. Rain showers come in the form of brief but powerful afternoon thunderstorms. If you can bear the hot and humid conditions, you’ll have the island to yourself as this is Lombok’s low season.
As the wet season tapers off in April, temperatures begin to drop and the countryside becomes lush with green vegetation. May through June is considered the most pleasant period for a visit, as the days are reliably sunny and not too hot.
The west coast of Lombok generally experiences the coolest weather on the island, and the inland regions the hottest. The island’s high season for tourism spans July and August, with equally busy conditions around Christmas and New Year. Hotel rates are higher during these peak months, and popular destinations like the Gilis and Rinjani can become uncomfortably crowded.