Found just half an hour flight away from Denpasar, Lombok couldn’t be more different from the hustle and bustle of neighboring Bali. Sure, all the trappings of an island paradise are there, but you’ll avoid the hawkers and pollution that have hampered Bali’s recent reputation. Lombok is more commonly known for its volcano landscape at Mount Rinjani, but if your heart yearns for white sands, palm fringed beaches, and turquoise waters without the traffic and commercialization, Lombok has it.
The Lombok Strait runs through the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean, forming part of the biogeographical boundary line known as the Wallace Line – the transitional zone between Asia and Australia. As a result, Lombok’s flora and fauna are distinct, with natural beauty that combines the expanse and ruggedness of subtropical Australia with the lush greenery and dense jungle landscape of Southeast Asia.
With numerous beaches in the northwest and south to explore, Lombok is the perfect destination for beach fanatics. It’s also a gateway to the Gili Islands and the launchpad for some of the most incredible snorkeling locations in Indonesia, with alluring options for luxury travellers.
Stay at The Oberoi
While Lombok’s tourism industry continues to grow, luxury accommodation options remain limited as the island breaks away from its low-end roots. The Oberoi more than makes up for the lack of choices, embodying the beauty and cultural wonderment of Lombok in a luxurious, opulent resort with exclusive beach access and striking sunset views of the Mount Agung volcano.
Set within 25 acres of lush surrounds, The Oberoi is an idyllic garden resort situated on the north side of the island, approximately 75 kilometres from Lombok’s international airport. Guests have the choice of staying in deluxe thatched villas or pavilions with views of the ocean or immaculate gardens. Rooms are bright, spacious and have been carefully designed to embrace the spirit of Lombok, adorned with traditional fabrics and Balinese style furnishings for accommodation that’s equal parts rustic and lavish.
A stay at The Oberoi is the perfect complement to any Lombok visit, where the smell of frangipani perfumes the air as waves slowly lap up on the shore. Ideal for the beach lovers, the pristine waters of Medana Bay are just steps away, so travelers can transition from the luxury of a hotel room to the golden sands of the beach.
Eat at Tugu
After a hard day lounging around on the beach, dining at Hotel Tugu is a must. Located on Sire beach on the northwest of the island, Tugu offers one of the most spectacular sunset ocean views on Lombok, making it well worth the journey from the Oberoi for a sumptuous feast. It’s not just the views; Tugu offers the finest dining experiences this side of Bali.
Choices abound, with guests offered the option of dining at various restaurants, on the beach or at any romantic spot on the hotel grounds. Travelers can opt to have a private dining pavilion set up for two by candlelight, take to the seas in the legendary Naga Mesem boat or enjoy a BBQ on the beach under the full moon.
For a unique Indonesian experience, book the Grand Rijsttafel dinner in the Sugar Baron Room for seven delectable courses served by a number of waiters in full traditional costume. Fresh ingredients are prepared according to traditional recipes passed down through the generation, with a special focus on Indonesian spices. Javanese style grilled chicken, marinated quail eggs, water spinach cooked in coconut milk, and sambal potatoes with shrimp are some of the feature dishes.
The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands located just off the coast of Lombok, accessible via speedboat in just 20 minutes from the mainland. Normally known as a notorious backpackers hotspot for raucous parties and cheap eateries, the Gili islands still have with idyllic turquoise waters, zero cars, and snorkeling galore that still make it well worth the quick zip across for a day trip.
Of the three Islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno – Meno has a reputation as being the more laidback option. Sandwiched between the two, Gili Meno mostly attracts couples who are looking to get off grid and enjoy lounging on the beach all day before sipping cocktails at sunset. Underwater things are a little more lively. Snorkels can be hired right on the beach and there are some excellent little snorkelling spots to be found just steps away from the shore. Buy a coconut, grab a snorkel and find a spot on a deserted part of the beach to do exactly what one should do in paradise: sweet nothing.
Venture to the south of Lombok to find a hidden enclave of secret beaches without hordes of tourists, although locals will usually be found there on weekends. There are no luxury resorts or restaurants of note, but mother nature puts on one hell of a show. Come prepared with drinks and snacks and brace for a long and bumpy journey, as most of Lombok’s secret beaches are well and truly off the beaten path.
A trip to Pink Beach (known to locals as Tangsi Beach) is well worth it for beach lovers, but travelers should prepare for a long drive on questionable and bumpy roads. Alternatively, a boat can be chartered for direct travel.
This remote stretch of coast is known for the pinkish hue of its sand which is produced by microscopic organisms that grow on the coral reefs, but don’t be too disappointed if you don’t notice it right away. Some people say the pink becomes less visible as the day goes on, with the morning sun complimenting it the most, while others say the pink sand can only be seen when viewing the beach from high up on the cliffs. Either way, Pink Beach is tranquil unspoiled coast with pristine waters, stunning viewpoints, and fabulous snorkelling spots.
Hidden away behind Bukit Merese Hill in the south of Lombok, Tanjung Bongo is another one of Lombok’s secret beaches sure to appease the beach lover. Go at the right time and you could have the beach to yourself, as most tourists don’t make it much further than Mount Merese. The reward for the trek is breathtaking scenery and photo opportunities.
Tanjung Bongo Beach itself is both rugged and pristine. Azure waters meet sugar-soft sands, black volcanic rock juts out of the sea and the coast is bordered by lush hillsides as far as the eye can see. Travelers will find a charming little local warung serving Indonesian classics like nasi goreng and mi goreng but remember to bring water. There are some excellent rock pools around that provide a great place to lie back and soak it all in.
Other secret beaches in Lombok well worth checking out include Tanjung Bloam, Pantai Tebing and Pantai Bilasayaq in Tunak national park.