While destinations like Lombok attract a large proportion of visitors due to their splendid beaches, there is a lot more to see and do than laze away afternoons sunbathing. Lombok is home to a fascinating culture, where the culture and religions of Hinduism and animism collide. Visitors can also enjoy the spectacular natural attractions around the island, and there are even a few hotspots for animal loving travellers, both on Lombok and the neighbouring Gili Islands.
Pura Lingsar Temple
Visitors interested in exploring the rich spiritual and religious traditions on Lombok should put an excursion to Pura Lingsar at the top of their “must do” list. Constructed in 1714, the temple complex is widely acknowledged as the most sacred site on the whole island, and combines the beliefs of Balinese Hinduism in the northern section and Wekto Telu animism in the southern part. As with many of Indonesia’s religious sites, visitors are expected to wear a sash or sarong when they enter the main part of the temple. Visitors often enjoy feeding the holy eels in the Wektu Telu temple’s pond with hard boiled eggs from nearby stalls. Each December, Pura Lingsar is the site of a mock epic battle between Hindus and Wektu, in which they hurl sticky rice in coconut leaves at one another.
Narmada water park
Situated 10km to the east of Mataram, Narmada water park is a popular attraction with families visiting Lombok. It is home to a Hindu temple and swimming pool, which is fed by fresh water forest springs. During the time of feudalism, the park was a favourite relaxation destination for the King. Nowadays, it attracts plenty of local visitors who want to take a reprieve from the heat in the park’s cool swimming pool.
Mount Rinjani towers above the island of Lombok at an impressive height of 3,726m. Top spots to see in the park include the Segara Anack Crater Lake and the Aik Kalak hot springs at the crater rim and Susu Cave. Unless you possess the physical fitness to reach the peak of Mount Rinjani, this challenging trek, which takes several days, should not be attempted. However, the wonders of the national park are not solely enjoyed from the peak of the mountain, as many lower level treks are available. There are several popular walks at Sembalun Lawang, which take hikers into remote villages that have become famous for weaving. Other activities in the park include eco-walks and tree planting treks. Visitors arrive through Senaru village on the northern side of the mountain or through Sembalun Lawand on the eastern side of the summit. Entry to the park costs approximately US$12 per person.
Museum Negeri Nusa Tenggara Barat
If you want to learn more about Lombok’s unique culture, this museum is a great place to visit for a couple of hours before lunch or dinner. The museum features several exhibits on the geology, history and culture of the island and also includes ancient artefacts, local armour, and traditional decorative arts. Situated approximately 7km from Mataram on Jalan Panji Tilar Negara, the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am-1pm in the morning, and 2pm-4pm in the afternoon.
Senaru and Sukarare traditional villages
Visitors who can’t get enough of local culture should make a trip to one (or more) of Lombok's traditional villages to get a small taste of local life. Senaru Village is popular with visitors, as it provides a window for visitors to learn a little more about the animist way of life that has undergone very few changes for centuries. In addition, Sukarare village has become famous for the fine textile weaving Lombok is known for, and travellers who make their way to the village can see the traditional weaving process for themselves.
Tamun Barang bird park
Tamun Barung bird park provides a rustic home to over 200 different species of exotic birds from across the Asia Pacific region, as well as several other types of Indonesian wildlife. The simple aviary, located on Gili Meno, is undergoing a slow renovation and is open daily to visitors from 9am-5pm.
The Gili beaches
Visitors who want to get off the beaten track and uncover the best of Indonesia’s beach desinations should head to the Gili islands, a chain of three islands positioned off the northwest coast of Lombok. The beaches of Trawangan are popular with families, especially the Goodheart and North Beach stretch, which is particularly good for snorkelling. Trawangan’s beaches are perfect for visitors who get up early to enjoy the sunrise over Mount Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok. Gili Meno embodies all the best qualities of an unspoilt desert island, with the most popular beach lying to the left of where most boats to the island arrive. The slow pace of Gili Air makes the island an ideal place for travellers in search of the region’s most tranquil shores. The best destinations for swimming can be found off the east coast of the island, where the sandy bottom eventually gives way to a coral reef.
Turtle sanctuary Gili islands
Animal lovers who make the trip up to Lombok’s idyllic neighbours, the Gili islands, should also take the time to visit the turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno. Run by a local villager named Boulong, the sanctuary comprises a collection of pools on the beach, each of which is packed with baby turtles. The sanctuary takes care of the turtles until they are about eight months old before releasing them. As the costs of running the sanctuary are fairly high, donations from visitors are always welcome.
Posted by Max Vee