Lombok, Bali’s enchanting sister

If you have ventured into Bali and thought that this was a majestic place with a spiritual aura and ancient feel, wait until you hop on that ferry and step off, with a big smile, onto her sister island, Lombok

Although not entirely Hindu as Bali, Lombok is mixed between indigenous tribes, Hindus and Muslims, with Muslims making up most of the community. However they have learnt to get along very well considering the past tensions.

The ingeration of the different cultures in Lombok results in a sense of tranquility and calm throughout the island that is completely unexpected, given the tensions the world has seen throughout history because of different ways of life. 

The locals stick to their beliefs however there are also times that everything is intertwined and the celebrations are shared together. The island is filled with ancient Hindu temples, modern mosques, old Dutch colonial architecture. 

The island itself is slightly smaller than Bali and boasts all the sights that Bali has to offer, however Lombok is just less touristy and the locals are not as spoilt as in the main visited areas of Bali, and being ripped off by a local is not as common as it would be in the more touristy spots. Like Bali the key areas that Lombok has to offer are amazing rice paddy terraces, a grand volcano, amazing surf, clear water scuba diving and a very adventurous boat trip to the island of Flores via the National Park of Komodo. 

Needless to say there are some fine beaches and beach towns to take a break in. On the cultural side, apart from the ancient Hindu temples, mosques and Dutch colonial structures it also has a couple of indigenous villages spread across its land.

You may walk into one of these villages and find yourself being given a tour by a village elder or his son where they explain what they do for a living and how they go about their daily life by taking care of the livestock, cultivating rice, making pottery and weaving exquisite designs for sarongs, tenun ikat and other clothing. Hand weaving is a traditional talent that has been passed down through the generations and although is mainly done for visiting tourists, it is a way of keeping an ancient tradition alive, while giving the locals a way of making a living. 

When it comes to the rest of the activities and things to do and see, you will not be disappointed as they have a lot to offer. Mount Rinjani itself is an arduous trek but it is also an amazing experience for those of you who appreciate geology and bird life. You get to spend between two to six days trekking around the mountain volcano and its turquoise lake, and your individual experience will depend upon what you are looking for. In my opinion, this is most definitely one of the biggest highlights that Lombok offers. 

The rice paddies are plentiful and the best ones can be found on the slopes of Rinjani, overlooking the east coast. In every major town you will find remnants of old Hindu temples and most of all, Dutch colonial buildings, all of which will give you a better understanding of the history of Lombok and how the island was developed through the ages. 

Exploring the island is best done in a hired car or a scooter, but whichever mode of transport you choose, you will come across Kuta. Found in the south of the island and as famous as its namesake in Bali, just for different reasons, this area is particularly popular with foreign surfers, hippies and those who just want to enjoy the simple life surrounded by locals, jungle and lovely stretches of beach upon beach that offer great surf. 

If you go around the corner to the West you will stumble upon Banko Banko, a tranquil village with a few beach shacks for rent and a great beach with stunning views to gaze upon. Jump into the water here with your scuba gear and I can guarantee you will come into contact with a lot of marine life and coral. Locals also say that there is a wreck around here but only daring, experienced divers can go there as local companies do not offer it as a dive site. 

Getting here is fairly easy, just hop onto the countless ferries that come from Bali and make sure you make the right choice. Your luggage may get lost or your boat may never show up, or even worse you may capsize but this is rare and not as bad as what you read in the papers once you see the odds. Flying here is also possible and not that costly. 

Always respect the culture and abide by the ways of the land. The people of Lombok are kind, but if disrespect is shown you will have a lot to answer for. 

How to get there

Emirates offer regular flights to Bali with a stopover in Dubai. Flights departing from Malta on 27 May and returning on 11 June were priced at €1,152.62, including tax, at the time of going to print. 

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