Lombok is a lush island paradise that is relatively unspoiled by mass tourism. Locals and tourists alike have fallen in love with the stunning white beaches, perfect surf breaks, the lush jungle interior, and the magnificent Gunung Rinjani, a towering volcano whose summit is home to a spectacular crater lake and hot springs.
Lombok is just 30 kilometres across the Lombok Strait from Bali, but the two locations could not be further apart in terms of development and atmosphere. There are not as many five-star resorts, but Lombok is still well loved as a peaceful island destination where travellers can relax and recharge without the pressures of commerce and bustle.
The local people truly are part of the island’s charm. Lombok’s rich indigenous culture has endured globalisation. The local Sasak people are renowned throughout Indonesia for their skills in woodcarving, pottery and songket, a type of brocaded cloth.
Located near Lembar on the west side of the island, Tanjung Lembar is the primary port on Lombok. Although modest, the port is quite busy with small freighters, fishing boats and passenger ferries. Lembar itself is a fairly small, quiet town that primarily serves as a transit point between the port and the larger, more tourist-friendly town of Mataram.
The facilities at Tanjung Lembar are fairly minimal. Visitors will find all they need to transfer from their cruise to the island and a comfortable spot to wait; however, there is not much else in the immediate vicinity. Food and drink can be purchased from the roving local vendors in or just outside of the port. Local crafts and other goods can be bought from street markets in the streets of Lembar.
Accommodation is limited in Lembar; however, there are a number of options to suit all budgets in nearby Mataram.
How to Get Around
As Tanjung Lembar is fairly well off the beaten path, transport options are fairly limited in the immediate vicinity of the port. There are two taxi services on Lombok and vehicles from both can often be found outside the port’s main gates. Drivers with cars and minivans will also often congregate around the port and offer their services for a small fee.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 30 minute journey to Mataram
- It is a 41 minute journey to Lombok International Airport.
Travel options increase once in Mataram, with car, minivan and motorbike taxi services becoming more frequent. Many tourists also enjoy travelling by cidomo, the local horse and cart services. It is also inexpensive to hire a motorbike, scooter or car.
- Currency - The local currency in Lombok is the Indonesian Rupiah. Coins are available in Rp.100 and Rp.50 denominations, while notes are available in Rp.100, Rp.500, Rp.1,000, Rp.5,000, Rp.10,000, Rp.20,000, Rp.50,000 and Rp.100,000 denominations.
- Time Zone - Lombok uses Central Indonesian Time, which is eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - Lombok alternates between a tropical climate in the wet season and a savannah climate in the dry season. While humid, the wet season (October to March) is unusually dry, with rainfall only occurring for about an hour each day. Temperatures average around 29 degrees Celsius during the wet season. The dry season is much less humid, and temperatures range between 26 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees Celsius.
- Old Town Ampenan - A relic of Dutch occupation, Old Town Ampenan is a suburb in Mataram, full of beautifully dilapidated European-inspired architecture. The area is now a major shopping precinct, with many small stores selling wares with a distinct Middle Eastern bent. Old Town is quite close to the beach and many tourists enjoy joining the locals on the sand in the evening to eat roast corn and watch the sun set.
- Pura Batu Bolong - Named after the natural hole in a rocky outcrop that it perches on, Pura Batu Bolong is a stunning Hindu temple on the coast near Senggigi Beach. The temple is actually composed of 14 different altars and pagodas that nestle among the rocks and reach down to the waves. It’s a dramatic and beautiful vista that has captured the imagination of many tourists.
- Taman Narmada - Located just 10 kilometres outside of Mataram, Narmada is an open, beautiful park where many locals and tourists go to relax and recharge. There are a number of historic buildings onsite including Pura Kalasa temple and the former palace of the Balinese king. Superstitious travellers often seek out Balai Petirtaan spring as local myth decrees that drinking and washing with the water will prolong and restore youth.