Areas & Neighborhoods in Lombok
Once the center of power for Lombok's king, the island's largest city is a showcase of local history in a charming, laid-back setting. A trio of distinct townships make up the city: the stately home of government in Mataram proper, the historic port city of Ampenan, and the bustling commercial center of Cakranegara. Its parks and gardens once served as royal retreats, and a network of modern roads serve a thriving, multi-ethnic community.
A string of islets off the northeastern coast, between the Lombok Strait and Bali Sea, the "Three Gilis" host a collection of resorts and villas surrounded by unbroken rings of beaches. Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular among tourists, and Gili Meno is the smallest and most relaxed, while the local community is centered on Gili Air. Motor vehicles aren't allowed on the islands to preserve the scenery for backpackers, bicyclists, and horse-drawn carts.
A far cry from the Balinese resort town of the same name, this beachside community along the southern coast features a sleepy traditional village and some of the best surfing on Lombok. Little clusters of thatched-roof bungalows and narrow roads lined by tropical trees mark this as a peaceful retreat with great waves and spectacular views.
What to See in Lombok
Nature still rules on this gem of an island. One of Indonesia's highest volcanoes takes up most of Lombok's northern third, with a crater lake standing just below the clouds and a paradise of hot springs and cliffside waterfalls filling the sights of Gunung Rinjani National Park. Little villages dot the island's interior, where you can get to know the Sasak people amid some terrific views of the central plains, and the streets of Mataram are lined with museums, shows, and art exhibits that show off the wealth of heritage around you.
Sightseeing in Lombok
Some of Lombok's best attractions involve its incredible scenery, and you can find some friendly hosts to show you the most magnificent sites. Join a guide for a tour of Mataram that shows off the most historic landmarks along with the lively public markets, visit a pair of waterfalls amid the lush inland jungle, or get to know the unique and colorful style of the Sasak people on a tour of the island's villages.
If you're understandably inclined to get out into the water, there are plenty of boats waiting to carry you out for a cruise. You can motor out on a day trip that features an up-close look at the reefs around the Gili Islands, spend the night relaxing on Gili Trawangan, or dive into the waters off the famed Pink Beach to go snorkeling with the sea turtles and brightly colored fish.