Bali draws large numbers of foreign visitors over the Christmas period, attracted by the weather, shopping and party atmosphere. For people looking for a quieter scene, with a tropical beach type of experience Lombok might be a place to consider.
Flying to Lombok takes just 30 minutes from Bali, arriving in Mataram on the west coast. The airport in Mataran is just 6km from the main tourist location, Senggigi and an airport taxi can get you to your hotel of choice quickly for around 50,000rp.
Senggigi is rather spread out and has a nice selection of budget to mid-range accommodation, with a few luxury places. Downtown is the lower end of the market, north Senggigi the boutique part of town.
Senggigi is surrounded by sweeping white sand bays, virtually untouched and with few tourists. Senggigi also has some lovely scenery with coconut fields and headlands. Straight out of north Senggigi the tourist infrastructure abruptly comes to a halt and its just local farmers. Exploring the area on a motorbike or with rental car is ideal. Most locals in Lombok use horse drawn cidomos, in absence of a motorbike.
Many tourist use Senggigi as a first night stop on their Lombok adventure, although it can be used for a base from which you can take day trips. Some Lombok travel agencies offer trips to Sumbawa and Komodo (for the Komodo dragon) with snorkeling and trekking stops built in along the way. A 5 day trip might cost you 700,000rp. It is important to realize these outfits are not luxury with bare conditions. Also remember to get a written itinerary, including where the trip will end, you don’t want to have to pay an extra fee to get home. Surfers need not bother with Senggigi as there is not much swell on that side of the island.
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Central Senggigi is where the action is with many bars, restaurants and shopping, although its nowhere near Kuta / Seminyak (more like a cross between Candi Dasa and Sanur).
Activities in Senggigi including diving and snorkeling. Local boats depart daily for the Gili Islands, leaving from the port of Teluk Nara, 20km north of Senggigi. If you are serious about diving you should really stay in the Gili Islands where good accommodation is also found, particularly on Gili Trawangan, but for those who want to stay in Senggigi, its all possible.
There are some dive sites located closer to Senggigi, including Alang Alang Wall, Malimbu Cave and Nipah Slope. You might pay a local operator $55-$75 for 2 dives.
People who enjoy exploring by bicycle might like the Lombok Biking Tour which does day tours of Lingsar, Pusuk Pass, Gunung Pensong for around $25. Lombok Biking Tour is based at next door to the Bumbu restaurant in Senggigi. Sea Kayak Adventures offers guided kayak trips along the Senggigi coast for around $50. Sea Kayak Adventures is connected with Blue Marlin.
The Perama Sunset Dinner Cruise is a fun afternoon / evening adventure that includes snorkeling and dinner. The boat leaves Senggigi at 1pm on Mon, Wed, Fri. Contact Perama Tours for the latest details.