Lombok – the next tourist paradise
Lombok is the island located directly east of Bali across the 1300m deep Lombok Strait. Anyone who has visited Bali and Lombok will tell you the latter has a fraction of the tourism of Bali. Lombok (4,725 km² ) is roughly the same size as Bali with roughly the same population (2.5 million), however it was never the big draw for foreign tourists that Bali was. This was due partly to infrastructure, partly to culture and partly to familiarity, people make friends in Bali and want to return.
With land prices soaring in Bali, beach-front property the most sought after, one wonders how long it will be before there is a tourism / property explosion in Lombok. One of the key factors for Lombok’s future tourism growth is an international airport. It is possible to fly into Mataran from Singapore at the moment, but getting direct flights from Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and Sydney is where its at. Short term tourists want easy access to creature comforts with the minimum of delay and stress. The tourist infrastructure in Lombok has a long way to go but let’s look at the natural assets to start with.
• White sand beaches:
Lombok has stunning bays with white sand beaches. Just take a drive north of Senggigi, the likelihood is you won’t see anyone on the beach. The south coast of Lombok also has great untouched beaches.
• Highland areas:
The southern slopes of Gunung Rinjani are particularly beautiful. The area around Tetebatu, while nothing compared to Ubud, has a small and growing tourist industry, which will grow when people hear about it.
Gunung Rinjani at 3726m dwarfs anything in Bali. Hiking to the summit of Gunung Rinjani is a 3 day round trip.
• The Gili Islands:
The 3 Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) are partially developed, but still have a long way to go. White sand beaches and crystal clear water make the Gili’s a paradise-like getaway, with creature comforts.
• The Other Gili Islands:
Lombok has many smaller islands, not just the 3 famous ‘Gili Islands’. Some of these are partially developed including Gili Nanggu in SW Lombok west of the port of Lember.
The main tourist center on the west coast of Lombok is Senggigi, which has budget, mid-range and boutique accommodation. The area immediately to the north of Senggigi has wonderful forests of palm trees and sweeping white sand bays. Senggigi already had some good restaurants and nightlife.
Lombok has an outstanding left-hander at Desert Point in the extreme SW of the island. There is also surfing on the south coast in locations such as Eka’s.
• Land prices:
Check out any Lombok property site on the web and compare land prices with Bali. You can get land for 1.5m rp per are in Lombok in certain places.
Lombok’s Selaparang airport needs a massive expansion, but there land around is enough land around it for that to happen, should the impetus be there. Maybe Lombok’s Sasak culture isn’t as colorful and demonstrative as the Balinese culture (what other culture is?) but short term tourists don’t usually care about culture, other than as a pleasant backdrop. Lombok has the raw materials at hand and room for expansion of its tourist industry. By the end of this century Lombok will look completely different.