The north coast of Lombok is a great place to visit for people who enjoy nature and the outdoors. Gunung Rinjani rises to 3726 meters and sits centrally in North Lombok, its slopes giving rise to rivers and streams flowing to the north coast. Getting to Lombok’s north coast from Bali means either flying into Mataran, which takes 30 minutes or coming over on the slow boat via Padangbai and Lember. You can also catch a faster boat from Sanur dropping you off at Pemenang. The coastline from Senggigi northwards has some beautiful white sand bays and the north coast features black sand beaches. Apart from hiking Gunung Rinjani, a 3-day trek, there are villages and waterfalls to check out.
Really the best way to explore the north coast of Lombok is with your own transport, whether that be a car or motorbike. There are local buses that serve the area also. It is possible to catch a bus from Sweta up to Anyar on the central north coast. Coming from the other direction a bus runs from Labuhan Lombok to Bayan. One of the favourite areas on the north coast is the Sembalun valley, which can be accessed via a bus from Kokok Putih and Pringgabaya.
The deal with exploring the north coast is that after you pass Senggigi and Bangsal, you won’t find much in the way of moneychangers or convenience stores.
Following the road around the north coast, you’ll come to the Lombok Golf Kosaido Country Club (0370)640138, just 2km past the village of Pemenang. Soon afters you’ll come to Sira, location of the largest white sand beach in Lombok. With the level of tourism Lombok gets compared to Bali, it will seem like paradise, with zero development and few people. The 3 Gili Islands are visible from this part of the coast. To access them you have to go back to Bangsal.
Following the coastal road around from Pemenang you’ll come to the Oberoi hotel (0370)638444, a luxury place with all the creature comforts a person could wish for. The Oberoi is around 4km NE of Pemenang, making it about a 18km drive from the airport. Check the website for prices which will fluctuate with season (Christmas / New Years and July / August are high season). Close to the Oberoi is the Medana Resort, a more affordable option that still offers a high level of luxury.
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Approximately 5km NE of the white sand beach at Sira, is the village of Tanjung. This happens to be the largest town on the north coast and has a very active local market (pasar pagi). The village of Gondang is another 4km to the east. Two lovely waterfalls can be found in this area. The first, Tiu Pupas waterfall, is indicated by a street sign and is several kms inland. The 40 meter waterfalls can be a challenge to find, so keep checking with locals that your course is correct. Best visited in the wet season (Nov-Mar) when the pools are deep enough to swim.
The other waterfall in the area is called Gangga waterfall or Selelos. This waterfall is a longer trek than the first. Look out for the sign 2km east of Gondang. Accommodation in the area can be found at the Pondok Pantai (0812/3752632). Decent wood and bamboo thatched bungalows, cold water for a budget price. A very peaceful location with nice garden.
Montong Fal is a small village located 5km east of Gondang. This area has coffee and cocoa plantations, local villages where peanuts, cashews and soya are grown. Accommodation can be found at Pondok Nusa Tiga (08133/9565818), a very simple budget place, with 4 rooms, cold water. Tampes is a small village 10km to the east, the highlight here being the pasar pagi (morning market) that happens every Wednesday.
At the northern point of Lombok is the village of Segentar, which is actually 2km inland. The village is quite traditional and for a small donation, you can take a guided tour (no pre-arrangement necessary). Keep driving eastwards and you’ll pass through cashew plantations, the road sometimes hitting the coast, which has unspoilt beaches.
Anyar, to the east, located 1km inland along the main road, is supposedly the place where Gaja Made, the Hindu Majapahit prime minister visited in the 14th Century. Anyar is nothing more than a bemo terminal these days. Another 4kms along the coastal east the road turns inland to the village of Bayan. Masjid Kuno Bayan Beleq is the oldest mosque in Lombok, dating back to the 16th Century. It is located close to the Bayan intersection. This mosque is unique as the structure is mostly bamboo / thatch. Bayan is a terminal point for buses from Labuhan Lombok and Sembalun.
Senaru is a village 4km south of Bayan. This is one of the access point to Gunung Rinjani, with a Trek Center located there. Heading east from Bayan, the road runs 6km to Kokok Putih, through the foothills of Rinjani. You can head south 12km to access another trekking spot at Sembalun Lawang, or keep heading east along the coast. Terrain gets drier here on the NE coast, as it does in Bali, the trade winds coming in from the south. There are some shops in Kokok Putih, but otherwise not much to detain a traveler.