Nestling between Bali and Sumbawa is one of Indonesia’s overlooked gems, Lombok.
The recent construction of an international airport has led to a growing number of visitors. More and more travellers are discovering its lovely turquoise waters, vast white beaches and world-class surf, with it frequently being dubbed ‘the next Bali’.
However, Lombok is far less commercially developed than Bali and still exudes serenity wherever you go. As well as a stunning coastline, it boasts many fascinating temples, spectacular palaces and a sacred mountain.
Although a predominantly Muslim province, one of the standout attractions is Pura Meru in Mataram, the largest Hindu temple on the island. Dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, it was built in 1720 and features tall, elegant towers surrounded by colourful gardens.
Another notable Hindu monument is the stunning Mayura Water Palace, built in 1744. It was also the site of many battles between the Dutch and Balinese in the 19th Century.
Rinjani is a sacred mountain and Indonesia’s second highest peak, reaching almost 4,000 metres. You can book a three-day tour, with food and tents provided, up to the summit and across the remarkable scenery, including hot springs and an enormous crater lake.
Sprawled across Lombok’s northwestern coast are The Gili Islands, a haven for backpackers. They are the most western-friendly pockets of Lombok, offering fantastic snorkelling, a buzzing nightlife and a quirky atmosphere.
There are two ferry routes taking you from Bali across the strait to Lombok.
The port of Serangan is situated next to Denpasar airport and provides daily crossings to Teluk Kode in west Lombok and the Gili Islands, lasting around three hours. There is also a departure point in Padang Bai, eastern Bali, which provides faster services to Teluk Kode.