Just a short hop east of Bali, Lombok is an incredibly diverse island of abundant natural
and cultural interest. Physically, it's dominated by the mighty presence of Gunung Rinjani
(Mt Rinjani), a volcano which towers over the entire northern half of the island. Rivers spill-
ing down its fissured slopes water the island's crops (chiefly rice, soya beans, coffee and
tobacco), while its summit - complete with a dazzling crater lake - lures both trekkers and
local pilgrims, for whom Rinjani is a sacred peak.
Lombok's other key attractions are the fabled Gili Islands - three exquisite tropical islets of
white-sand beaches, coconut palms and coral reefs teeming with marine life. Accommodation
here runs the full gamut: from no-frills beach huts to uber chic air-conditioned contemporary
hotels; and you can feast on everything from a humble nasi campur to zenlike arrangements
of sushi and sashimi. While most visitors spend their days here diving, snorkelling or simply
chilling by the sea, Gili Trawangan also offers plenty of after-dark action including a lively
bar scene and vibrant nightlife.
Lombok's dramatic south coast, characterised by a chain of headlands dividing a series of
wonderful sandy beaches, offers big breaks that are a magnet for surfers. Here the mellow
village of Kuta (no relation to its Bali namesake) is a good base, with an array of attractive
hotels and no crowds.
In contrast to Bali, most people on Lombok (around 90% of the population) are Sasaks, a
Muslim people with a culture and language unique to the island. There's also a significant
Hindu Balinese minority - a legacy of the time when Bali controlled Lombok.
Trekking the lush slopes of Gunung Rinjani
(p314), Lombok's emblematic volcanic cone
Plunging into the big blue off the Gili
Islands (p299), where the prolific reef life
offers terrific snorkelling and scuba diving
Grooving to the funky beat under the
coconut palms in party central Gili
Trawangan ( p305 )
Exploring the beautiful sandy coves and
spectacular coastline east and west of Kuta
(p322), a region that has some of Lombok's