Lombok promises many things, and at the top of the list is adventure. Pristine white sand beaches through to rugged cliffs and towering volcanoes make Lombok a truly unique destination. Tourism outside of the main towns of Mataram and Senggigi is still on a small scale so it’s the perfect destination for exploration and experiencing local culture. Enjoy the beaches, get your adrenaline pumping on some of the south coast dive sites and spend time with the friendly locals. If you’re looking for big fish and diverse marine life away from the crowds, Lombok is an excellent choice. At the south of the island, top areas to visit include Belongas Bay, Kuta, Tampah and Gerupuk Bay. Dive sites vary from gentle slopes to walls and there is also a cavern at Belongas Bay to explore. At the southwest of Lombok, Sekotong is a treasure trove of pristine dive sites, many of them only recently discovered. This is a great place for critter hunting. Diving is relatively easy around Lombok and welcoming to new divers. This makes it a great place to get a diving certification.
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These three tiny islands offer a bohemian vibe, laid back atmosphere and good variety of dive sites. With generally easy, year round conditions the diving is suitable for all levels. White sand beach…
Deep Turbo - Depth: 22 – 30+ meters Level: Advanced Current: Mild-Very Strong Marine Life: Rays, sharks and large schools of fish are often sited here Highlights: Topography of the reef and chance of eagle rays Deep Turbo is on the north-east side of Gili Trawangan. The site consists of impressive gorges, ridges and sea mounds surrounded by a sandy bottom where fields of garden eels, blue spotted stingrays and cuttlefish can be found. There are also several overhangs and small caves where many creatures live. You can find a huge variety of tropical reef fish and some frequent larger visitors include white tip reef sharks, barracuda and even eagle rays. The soft and hard coral are magnificent with giant Gorgonian sea fans. It is also a great area for a wide variety of nudibranches and if you’re lucky you can find pygmy seahorses! It has an average depth of 25 meters and at times there can be strong current, due to which it is best suited to more advanced divers.
Halik - Depth: 5 – 30+ meters Level: All levels Current: Strong at full and new moon Marine Life: Turtles, reef sharks, humphead parrotfish, snapper and triggerfish Highlights: Small caves home to juvenile reef sharks Halik reef dive site is situated on the northern side of Gili Trawangan and is enjoyable for all divers. The Gili Islands deliver yet again with this fabulous aquarium-like dive site. It has a beautiful platform edge that then slopes down from 5 to 15 meters with a series of coral bommies. In the shallows is a huge abundance and variety of life; schools of anthias dart in and out of the corals protection as large colourful sweetlips, trevallies and surgeonfish chase them. The small caves can be home to juvenile white tip reef sharks and when there is a light current this is a perfect site for an easy drift! Divers, who are interested in deep diving, can descend into her gullies and canyons that drop down to 40 meters; there you can find the larger fish species and chances to see adult reef sharks.
Hans Reef - Depth: 7 – 25 meters Level: All Levels Current: From nothing to strong Marine Life: Turtles, giant pufferfish, nudibranches, frogfish, octopus and cuttlefish Highlights: Large pinnacles, sand gullies, stingrays and a huge variety of macro life can found here There are many ways to explore this site and it give you something new to spot every time you visit. The sandy patch starts at around 7 meters; there you can find garden eels, sand lizardfish, frogfish, flounder and sea cucumbers. Going in an eastern direction you cross the ‘garden’ of the site dropping down to 15 meters; in the sea grass you can often find blue spotted stingrays and a diversity of smaller marine life. Along the sloping valleys batfish can be seen along with octopus and cuttlefish. On the large pinnacles there is lots of life to be found such as scorpion fish, puffers, schools of tropical reef fish and huge pink barrel sponges with sleepy turtles napping on top!
Shark Point - Depth: 6m - 30+ meters Level: All Levels Current: Strong at new and full moon Marine Life: Reef sharks, turtles, humphead parrotfish, large schools of fish Highlights: Canyons that run parallel to the shore, excellent site for viewing the big stuff! A flat sandy bottom turns into a series of progressively deeper canyons that run parallel to the eastern shore of Gili Trawangan. This is a very popular site due to the sheer variety of life that can be seen on a single dive. Reef sharks can be seen cursing through the canyons while lazy turtles can be spotted in the shallows and every full moon it is a favorite hangout for schools of huge humphead parrotfish. This site also houses the Glenn Nusa Wreck which was deliberately sunk in February 2016 she sits upright, on a sandy bottom, in about 25 meters of water on the eastern side of Gili Trawangan. The visibility at this site is usually excellent and the opportunities for underwater photo enthusiasts are fantastic. Slowly but surely she is being turned into an artificial reef and already provides shelter to many fish species. Sponges and corals are starting to encrust her and every passing year she becomes more and more beautiful in her mantle of living reef.
Simon's Reef - Depth: 18 – 30+ meters Level: Advanced Current: Mild-Very Strong Marine Life: Rays and larger fish species Highlights: Topography of the reef and variety of corals Simon’s Reef is on the north-east side of Gili Meno. A magical deep dive that offers a fantastic variety of corals, not seen anywhere else on the Gili Islands. At 30 meters there is a sandy bottom between large impressive sea-mounds. These structures range in size with interesting overhangs and outcrops along with magnificent sand formations similar to sand dunes in a desert. Fields of garden eels, blue spotted stingrays and even cuttlefish are often sighted here. Finishing on a pinnacle peppered with tropical reef fish.
Turtle City/Heaven - Depth: 6m – 35m Level: All Levels Current: From nothing to strong, sometimes with a split Marine Life: Turtles, sergeant majors, scorpion fish, mantis shrimps and cuttlefish Highlights: Large pinnacle with lots of turtles! Turtle city is located on the north- east side of Gili Meno. The average depth is around 18 meters. The dive site is situated around a large pinnacle peaking at 10 meters. It is a great sight for all levels of divers and as the name suggests is ideal for seeing lots of beautiful turtles! Around the pinnacle you can see large schools of small fish such as clown fish, damsels and sergeant majors. When exploring around the slopes you may also find many shrimps, octopus, cuttlefish, scorpion fish and giant blue puffer fish. Finally, at the top of the pinnacle you will find some cage houses with giant clams! If you are looking for turtles, beautiful coral valley coverage with swarms of colorful fish this site is just perfect.
The Lighthouse - Incredible topography and diverse marine life make this dive site a must. Exploring the rocky plateau, canyons and slope you’ll find schools of sweetlips and patrolling white tip reef sharks. Huge boulders create interesting recesses where critters can be found hiding and the huge coral bommies are shrouded with glass fish. Keep an eye out into the blue as well for passing schools of fusiliers, rainbow runners and mackerel.
Stairs to Medang - A vibrant coral garden plateau greets you as you start your dive around 14 meters / 45 feet before heading deeper down the “Stairs”. In deeper areas, expect the unexpected – everything from manta rays, reef sharks and passing hammerheads have been seen here. The definite highlight though, is the rugged “stepped” topography from which the site takes its name and the abundant reef fish and corals which bring striking colours to the shallows.
Cathedral - This stunning, coral encrusted rock pinnacle is a favourite for many divers. Its open ocean position makes it a major attraction for passing pelagics including eagle rays, hunting trevally, barracuda, schooling mackerel, rainbow runners and fusiliers. Make sure you take time to investigate the corals – there is a wealth of macro-life to be found here as well. Gili Sarang - Best known for “big fish” action and seasonal schooling mobula rays (August and September), Gili Sarang is a collection of pinnacles and boulders which attract pelagics. Frequent encounters here include white tip, black tip and grey reef sharks, huge dog-toothed tuna, great barracuda, giant trevally and jacks. Here you’ll also be able to appreciate the breath-taking, kaleidoscopic soft corals and critters that reside within them.
Lombok is known for its pelagics, most famously the great and scalloped hammerheads and schooling mobula rays. That’s not all you can find there though - expect to see trevally, tuna, barracuda, reef sharks, marble rays, eagle rays, sea snakes, turtles, schools of mackerel, rainbow runners and fusiliers, hoards of medium sized and small reef fish and if you have a keen eye there is a wealth of critters including numerous nudibranch species, frogfish, scorpionfish, octopus, cuttlefish and so much more!
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Lombok lies within West Nusa Tengarra province in Indonesia and is known to many as the quieter cousin of Bali. The island is similar in size to Bali but is culturally different despite its close proximity with a smaller, mostly Muslim population of 3.3 million people. Lombok’s popularity has grown only in recent years with the Lombok International Airport opening in October 2011.
Mount Rinjani, a live volcano, is the highest point of the island and is also the second highest volcano in Indonesia, rising to 12,224ft (3,726m). It’s most recent eruption was in May 2010, which saw lava flowing into the caldera lake within Mount Rinjani.
Lombok has something for every kind of traveler. Hikers will be pleased to know that Mount Rinjani and its surrounding areas are crisscrossed with beautiful hiking trails. Ocean lovers will find stretches of white sand beaches and healthy coral reefs to snorkel and scuba dive. Lombok is also a top surfing destination during April to October. This coincides with the dry season and is an ideal time to visit Lombok.
Lombok is surrounded by many small islands which are known as Gili in the local Sasak language. The most popular of these islands are known as the Gili Islands consisting of Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. Diving and snorkeling are top activities there along with it being a wonderful place to rest and relax.
Hiking and camping around Mount Rinjani is highly recommended. Besides that, surfing is also a highlight activity along with visits to waterfalls and other ocean activities like snorkeling and kayaking.
Fly to Lombok from Bali on local airlines or directly from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore via airlines like AirAsia, Silk Air or Garuda Indonesia. It is also possible to get to Lombok via ferry or boats which leave from Padang Bai on Bali.