Lombok Archives - Dive Indonesia
Hi all, as I’ve been living and diving in South Lombok for 7 years now, I’ve read numerous articles, blogs, and forum posts about our region and many people think South Lombok is only for the “rough and ready” adventure diver, so I feel the need to clear up a few misconceptions about the south coast of Lombok.
South Lombok, in general, presents itself as a relaxed place (some people compare it to Bali 20 years ago), and travelers of all interests (not only divers) can find a very tropical and enjoyable region to visit. One will find beautiful white sandy beaches, simple to more luxurious accommodations, friendly locals, and lots of nature and relaxation. There are 3 unique regions in the south of Lombok, Sekotong, Belongas Bay, and Kuta Bay:
Sekotong is a tropical little place with not much topside activity other than maybe renting a motorbike and exploring the coastline, snorkeling, swimming, or of course scuba diving. It’s quite perfect for couples and families who just want to relax and enjoy. There isn’t much touristic infrastructure (although it’s developing fairly quickly), but most accommodations have an adjacent restaurant so no one will need to go hungry (or thirsty). The scuba diving it’s relaxed, colorful reef diving at very intact reefs and lots of macro life can be found.
Belongas Bay, the place where the misconceptions actually come from, is truly only for the more adventures traveler and diver. The region is basically in the middle of nowhere, and the locals don’t see very much tourism there. So don’t be surprised if you are approached in a quite curios manner, for some this might even feel a little disturbing. The diving around this region can prove to be very challenging (especially during the dry season from July till October), but also can be very rewarding in a sense of pelagic life. Most certainly I would only recommend diving there only to the experienced diver.
Kuta Bay is comparable to Sekotong (from the diving aspect), but offers more infrastructure and topside possibilities such as, cafes, restaurants, and accommodations. The diving there is well suited for all levels of experience, and the dive shops there also have pool facilities etc. available for all levels of courses. But it should be mentioned that Kuta is best for diving during the rainy season (November till April), as during the dry season it’s subject to wind and waves (hence the time surfers love the place). There are 2 or 3 dive shops located in South Lombok, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to give you some more detailed info about the general conditions for the particular regions.
Gili Trawangan is the most popular of the three islands. And therefore if one needs a perfect holiday, where you will swim in crystal clear waters, pool cocktails, seaside BBQ and so much more, Gili Trawangan is perfectly the best. This place has bungalows to stay in especially for those who need peaceful quiet places to stay in. The island is also referred to as a party island with the main streets full of shops, accommodations as well as restaurants. You will also realize that prices at the island always double in the peak seasons; July-August, December-January.
Gili Trawangan has one of the best facilities around the Gilis and all you have to do is to grab yourself a ticket to the Gilis and choose to visit Gili Trawangan for the best of service and excitement. The island has a spectacular outlook, beautiful sunrises, breathtaking sunsets, coupled with warm hospitality from the community. It feels good at Gili Trawangan due to the best of nature’s offers. You get almost everything you would ever want to have at this part of the world. There is no need to get worried when you reach the Gilis because you will immediately experience the different climate at the Island.
You can reach Gili Trawangan through a number of means and these include; air, road and boat. At mataram’s Selaparang airport, you get daily local flight. From the airport, it is a 40 minutes drive in a taxi to Bangsal harbor and from the harbor to Gili Trawangan it will take you between 35 to 40 minutes when you use a public boat and this departs after 20 people have been registered so one has to strongly adhere to the rules of the place. It is also OK if you are in a hurry to buy yet remaining air ticket to get the boat moving. Within Trawangan, there are a number of transport means and these include; bicycles, Cimodos, and also walking on foot. Which ever is comfortable for you is what you decide to use.
There are also a number of sports at the island, these include; Diving which has over seven dive operators on the island who run a range of courses, such as the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) course also known as the Open Water, as well as Instructor courses during the year. There organized Fun Dives by schools with local dive masters who have extensive knowledge about every site. You will also find dive centres almost every where for everyone, where big busy school like Blue Marlin or Manta Dive, and also smaller groups at laid back schools such as Vila Ombak Diving Academy and Trawangan Dive competing with one another.
Some of the schools have been customized to absorb only French speaking divers commonly called Big Bubble and also German speaking divers famously known as Dream Divers. Diving done here is very easy and varies from walls, slopes and plateaus hence, the maximum depths at many of the sites range from 24m-18m, so beginners will highly benefit it as well as more experienced divers. All the dive sites can be easily accessed by boat within 10 minutes. You will also find attractive marine life such as; turtles, leaf fish, octopus, black and white tip sharks, frog fish, ghost pipe fish, moray and ribbon eels, pygmy seahorse, eagle rays, cuttlefish, snakes and bumphead parrot fish. Gili Trawangan is really incredible and people should try to see that they never leave or visit Indonesia without visiting Trawangan. The island is the most enjoyable among the three Gilis with slightly larger expanse of land and also having most beautiful and fascinating views and other wonderful things that you will enjoy and want to stay.
The island has a daily market which arrives by boat at around 11am going through noon. A number of women unload their fresh fruit and vegetables, meat as well as other goods and set up shops next to the village head’s office, just besides the harbour. It is a busy and colourful affair, with the usual fun, hustle and bustle common at all local produce markets.
The island has one secular playschool and one religious playschool, one primary school and one junior high school. Children who want to continue their education must by all means go to the mainland. The local population found at the island is almost Muslim with two mosques which call people to pray five times a day. Although Gili Trawangan is a ‘tourist island’, visitors are expected to behave with respect to the religion, and so such things as topless sunbathing are very much frowned upon. It is against these countless values and great sceneries that one ought to visit and see what we talk about when we say Gili Trawangan and maybe believe what they hear.
Talking about diving, it is impossible not to mention Gili Trawangan. This wonderful island is one of the most famous and developed gilis (island) located off the northwest of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Its relaxing atmosphere, white sandy beach, stunning coral reefs and crystal clear water, all there really make you want to come back again and again. In addition, most of the dive spots are suitable for all, both newbies and experts. However, some centers are only suitable for advanced divers. There are various kinds of resorts you can choose based on your budget.
Gili Air may not be as popular as Gili Trawangan, the largest island among the Gilis. However, Gili Air actually offers a lot to visitors. This island is the greenest of the three gilis (as you can find more tress there) and its diverse culture among locals make this island more attractive to visitors. Gili Air is also the closest to Lombok and the water there is still the best of all.
For decades, travelers have made the hop from Bali to the beautifully irresistible Gili Islands and stayed longer than anticipated. These beautiful islands are an archipelago of three small islands, which are Gili Tarawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, located in just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. The islands are a perfect location for your holiday if you are looking for a remote island experience. The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beach-side cafes where you can enjoy drinks and good quality Western and Asian food. Most local inhabitants around here live on Gili Tarawangan in a township stretching along its East side inland. Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so you can only travel around in the islands by bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo. Diving in and around Gili Islands is also popular due to the abundance of fish life and attractive coral formations in the area.
You can reach these beautiful islands of Lombok by plane or boat. The nearest airport is situated in the city of Mataram on Lombok mainland. There are no international flights going straight to Lombok, so you have to get to Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali first, then take another flight to Lombok. From Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali, you can connect onward with a domestic flight to Mataram, the main city of Lombok. Flight route to Mataram is operated by Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Garuda, Lion Air, Trigana Air, Trans-Nusa and Indonesian Air Transport. From Jakarta and Surabaya, Mataram is served by flights provided by Batavia Air, Garuda, Lion Air and Merpati. To fly to Bali then take a boat to Gili Islands is also a viable option. There are now numerous direct boat services from Bali to Gili Islands which you can also use. Traveling between the islands requires either catching the infrequent shuttle boats or chartering one to take you across.
Gili Islands consist of three small gilis, which are GIli Tarawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. The beaches of the Gilis are still powdery white, with beautiful clear blue water positioned perfectly for sunsets over Bali’s Mt. Agung and sunrise over Lombok’s Mt. Rinjani. You can do several activities on these islands, such as scuba diving, snorkeling trips, sea kayak experience, golf days, horse riding at sunset, wake boarding, deep sea fishing, trekking the great Mt. Rinjani and a trip to komodo culture. People are also coming to these beautiful islands to held their wedding ceremony or honeymoon. Gili Tarawangan is the largest and most visited of the three islands. This gili is also known as the party island. In the middle of three gilis lies Gili Meno, the smallest of the three gilis and by far the most peaceful and under developed. Gili Meno is perfect for you who love total escapism for your holiday. This island is also very popular with honeymooning couples and adventurous castaway tourists. Finally, the closest to the mainland Lombok is Gili Air. Here, you can enjoy the grass roots atmosphere of Gili Air and the feeling of really being part of a close knit local community.
Arcing away from the northwest corner of Lombok, the Gili Islands are ideal getaway destination where the sand is still powdery white with sparkling clear water. Enjoying the sunsets here over Bali’s Mount Agung in the West is simply spectacular. You will be guaranteed to see some of Indonesia’s breathtaking scenery in these beautiful islands.
Indonesia is a world famous diving destination and known for its amazing diversity in marine life. The Gili Islands in Lombok are becoming one of the top spots in the region, attracting more and more divers each year to these beautiful islands. One of them is Gili Air, which means “Water Island” in local language due to the lush vegetation of the island. White sandy beaches, no motorized transport, friendly local villagers, a good variety of restaurants and accommodation ranging from basic home stays to luxury private villas make Gili Air a serene place for your relaxing, yet adventurous holiday. You will be surrounded by a variety of coral reefs with immense marine biodiversity in this island. Many turtles, sharks, manta rays, scorpion fish, pipefish, moray eels, frogfish and colorful nudibranches will take your diving adventure to a new level.
Gili Air is easily reachable by both plane and boat. You can take a flight to the nearest airport in the city of Mataram on Lombok mainland. If you are traveling from abroad, you have to get to Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali first as there is no international flights going straight to Lombok. From there, then you can take another flight to Lombok with a domestic flight. There are several flight services that can take you to Mataram, such as Batavia Air, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Garuda, Lion Air, Trigana Air, Trans-Nusa and Indonesian Air Transport. Gili Islands is close to Bali, so you can also take a flight to Bali, then take a boat to get there. You can get one of several direct boat services from Bali, straight to Gili Islands. While you were on the islands, you can travel around by renting a bike or getting a traditional horse carts called cidomos.
Gili Air is the closest to the mainland, which is a quiet, off-the-beaten-path escape with plenty of stylish bungalows dotted among the palms. The dive sites around Gili Air is relatively easy diving and is a good place to learn to dive with several diving courses available. The water temperature here varies from 26°C to 30°C with very little, even no current at all which makes diving in Gili Air is perfect for all kinds of divers. Diving in Gili Air is all about fringing reefs, slopes, drop offs and plateaus with hard and soft corals in the crystal clear water. Here, you can see white and black tip reef sharks, rays, napoleon wrasse, bumpheads, giant morays and even manta if you come at the right time of year. You can also come across smaller critters like nudis, flatworms, pipefish, ribbon eels, scorpion leaf fish, flying gurnards, octopus, cuttlefish, mantis shrimps, frog fish and many more. Unfortunately, the corals above 15 meters around this area are in very bad shape due to extensive bomb fishing by the locals in the past decade. Nowadays, the beauty of the marine lives seems to be improving but it will take time for the reef to fully recover to its original state.
Away from the busy tourist activity in Bali, you will find a hidden paradise in Gili Air. This is a perfect coral island, fringe with white sands and swaying palm trees, lay in the sparkling ocean just off the north-west coast of Lombok. Gili Air is a perfect site for diving with crystal clear water and amazing marine lives. Diving in Gili Air will make an unforgettable experience for your holiday.
When Senggigi is mentioned, what comes to your mind first would be the beautiful sandy beach that gives you the peace of mind. Well, Senggigi is one of the main tourist destinations in Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
If you think it is hard to reach this place, actually it is not as difficult as you think. From the island’s capital Mataram, it takes only 15-20 minutes by taxi. Both airport and metered taxis are avaialble for the connection from the airport. However, airport taxi are only for passengers arriving at the airport and requiring transport to some places of interest across the island. Airport taxis cannot take you to the airport when leaving the island.
Alternatively, you can reach Senggigi by airport bus. There is a public bus from Lombok International Airport that serves passangers who travel to and from either Mataram or Senggigi. The 8 DAMRI buses are air conditioned and have a capacity of 40 passengers. Moreover, the DAMRI buses also leave the Mandalika terminal every hour and continues to the airport. The bus starts departing at 04.00, while the last bus leaves at 19.00. If you want to experience something different, you can take a small public transport called bemo. A public demo can be seen inside the parking area of Ampenan Market and it only cost you Rp. 5.000,- (excluding extra charges for the luggage you carry).
For divers, Senggigi is one of the famous paradises. If you are wondering where to find diving centers in Senggigi, here they are:
- Blue Marlin Dive
Blue Marlin has several branches in this island and considered as one of the best diving centers in Senggigi. This center is a 5 star diving operator that committs to providing the best quality of service and prioritizing the safety and the comfort for divers. Blue Marlin also offers diving course ranging from courses for beginners to diving masters. The instructors are PADI certified, so you know that you are in the right hand. There are some services this center can offer, whether you travel by yourself or in group with friends or families. If you prefer packages that include accommodation, Blue Marlin can happily do that for you.
- Blue Coral Diving
Another top diving center in Senggigi. Set up in 1993, this center is the first PADI resort member in the island of Lombok.
There are lots of activities you can do here. For those who have never dived before but want to learn how it feels to be under water, you can take the introductory dive course for Rp. 1.100.000,-. For the dive masters who want to improve their skills, there are some courses available, from open water course (Rp. 3.600.000,-) to PADI Dive master course for a professional diver (Rp. 7.700.000,-).
This center offers tour to explore the enchanting dive sites around the Gilis island and Lombok. For 2 dives, the price is Rp. 700.000,-, 3 dives is Rp. 850.000,- and 2 dives plus 1 night dive is Rp. 900.000,-. There is also snorkeling trips available which cost Rp. 150.000,-. The prices include equipments, transportation from hotel (at Senggigi area) to dive sites, dive master or guide and mineral water (lunch is excluded).
Actually, Senggigi is not only about diving and a fascinating beach. There is also a Hindu temple overlooking Senggigi beach, named Batu Bolong (batu means rock, bolong means hole). You can watch one of the most wonderful sunsets there. Besides diving and snorkelling, kayaking, trekking and biking are some activities you can do in this amazing place.
Padang Bai may not be as popular as the busy Kuta and Sanur as Bali’s top tourist destinations as people go to Padang Bai only to catch a port to Lombok. Therefore, not so many people know that the tiny port town also has lots to offer, especially to divers and snorkelers.
It takes 90 minutes drive from Ngurah Rai Airport to this small lovely place with a pre-paid coupon costs Rp. 365.000,-. From Kuta and Legian, it take about 1 hour to 90 minutes drive. Alternatively, you can take Perama shuttle bus from several tourist spots such as Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, Candidasa and Lovina. Make sure you book in advance. For cheaper option, bemo can be found in Batubulan terminal, Denpasar. From Lombok, it is easier to get ferry to Padang Bai as ferry is available 24 hours a day. The trip usually takes about four hourse (but can be longer in poor weather) and costs Rp. 36.000,-. Despite the affordable price, the ferry is clean and comfortable and there is a private room for tourist ( you pay for an extra Rp. 50.000,-).
There are many friendly diving centers in Padang Bai where you can start experiencing the beauty of Bali’s underwater.
- Water Worx Dive Center
This dive center was opened in 2011 and run by two expats who have been in Bali since the mid 1990s, David and Wolfgang. Both are experienced dive guides and dive instructors for various dive operators in Bali and Lombok.
If you want to explore some dive sites in Bali, you can come to the center in the morning or they will pick you from the hotel where you are staying. This center offers a pick up service from your hotel in Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta, Sanur and Ubud for a small surcharge. The prices include transfer from Padang Bai or Candidasa to the dive sites such as Blue Lagoon, Gili Mimpang,Gili Tepekong, Gili Selang, Manta Point and so on. The prices that include rental equipment are slightly higher than the prices including tanks, weights and belts.
In addition, this diving center in Padang Bai also offers a wide range of dive courses, conducted by experienced and certified instructors. For beginners, you can choose whether you can take Introductory Dive Course in Tulamben (US$ 85 for 1 dive or US$ 115 for 2 dives) or in Blue Laggon (US$75 for 1 dive or US$ 105 for 2 dives). However, the prices do not include the course manuals so you have to purchase it in order to get the certificate.
- Geko Dive Bali
This is one of the most recommended diving centers in Padang Bai, you can check on tripadvisor.com. There are various attractive packages, such as Fun Dive (for professional divers only) and PADI Diving Course. For Dun Dive package, you enjoy 3 days dive starting from Rp. 1.985.000,- to Rp. 2.655.000,-.
This center also helps you find accommodation, from budget hotel to most exclusive, there are many choices that suit your need (as Geko Dive Bali does not offer accommodation directly). Additional info, this center is committed to protecting environment and local community empowerment.
Hope this information help you enjoy your dive experience in Padang Bai. Happy diving!
Lombok lives up to the promotional term, “an unspoiled Bali“, in many ways. Lombok is believed to be the paradisiacal tropical island as it is home to beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, and the looming volcano of Mount Rinjani. Combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok has become the destination frequented by visitors and dubbed as “Bali number 2”. Besides its scenic land attractions, the island of Lombok is surrounded by a number of smaller islands locally called Gili. These little islands have become one of the top tourists’ destinations, mainly for its stunning underwater vista that many divers wouldn’t miss. Out of the three Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most popular among the three Gili’s.