72 hours in Lombok – these are my stories.
After the first flight from Perth to Lombok the previous night, the first real day in Lombok started at Aruna Hotel, Senggigi as we had had breakfast and then boarded the bus on our way to explore the waters of Gili.
Normally when jumping on a bus you just throw your headphones in and zone out, however, the scenery on the drive was quite breathtaking especially seeing the jungle meeting up with the beach as we zigged and zagged our way up and down the mountain.
Snorkel at the Underwater Sculpture of Gili Meno
The trip from the dock to the snorkeling location near Gili Meno took approximately 45 minutes on the charter boat.
Generally not being one that is a fan of boats and can become seasick at times, the boat ride went well, though this no doubt could have been because I was distracted by the amazing scenery – being able to see mountains in the distance and the surrounding islands.
Once we came to the well-known snorkel spot of Gili Meno, we all popped on put goggles and snorkel and jumped straight in.
The water was a clear crystal blue and the temperature was perfect.
As soon as you put your head underwater you were immersed in an underwater world with masses of coral and plenty of fish – we even saw a couple of sea turtle, one briefly popping its head above the water to see what’s going on before quickly taking off.
The main event though at this particular snorkel location is the sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor.
The sculpture depicts a circle of 48 life-size figures, standing together and curled up on the ground. Providing a quite surreal experience when diving down to get a closer look.
Jason and locals hope for the piece to become covered in coral over time bring more marine life to the area making it a destination for divers to explore.
The snorkel spot is located just off the small island of Gili Meno between Bali and Lombok.
Once we had finished our snorkeling experience it was back in the boat and then on towards Gili Air.
Lunch Time at Waroeng Alam Damai
We docked at Gili Air for lunch, but first, we had to jump on bikes and head slightly in-land to find Waroeng Alam Damai where we would not only experience a traditional Lombok feast but also try our own hand at replicating some of the dishes on offer in a Lombok Cooking Master Class.
Getting back on a bike was a scary thought given that I hadn’t been on or near a bike in 16 years – but as the old saying goes it’s just like riding a bike and it was. Hopped on the bike no problems and within seconds I was cruising the streets of Gili Air.
Luckily the tour guide knew where we were going as there were a few left and right turns.
Once we arrived at Waroeng Alam Damai the spread for lunch was simply amazing, the passion and love for cooking from the head chef were second to none as he explained each of the dish’s ingredients and origins.
After the delicious lunch, it was time to go to work in the kitchen. As Nasi Goreng is one of my favourite dishes I quickly jumped in the class to learn first-hand about making traditional Nasi Goreng. As you can see from the video, I captured the ingredients and process is quite basic, but I can ensure you it seems that it’s all in the fine detail and of course the sauces.
Watch: Nasi Goreng Master Class
After lunch and our masterclass it was time to head back to the boat and make our way to Villa Ombak on Gili Trawangan or ‘Gili T’ to keep it simple.
Vila Ombak is the go-to hotel on the island Gili Trawangan and it’s easy to see why positioned right on the beach and on the main street Jl. Pantai Gili Trawangan.
The resort not only has spacious and comfortable rooms, but I was also lucky enough to stay in the Deluxe Ombak Room stocked with a very comfy bed, a massive ‘lounging couch thing’ I guess you could call it – perfect for the kids or simply relaxing with a book and a spacious outside bathroom and shower.
The pool area, however, is the real winner.
The main pool isn’t too deep allowing you to easily walk across the pool or simply enjoy a cocktail right in the middle of the pool if you like. Alternatively, the pool is designed with a bench around the outer of the main pool, meaning you can also sit and relax in the pool anywhere around the edge. No more having to sit at the pool bar all day.
There is a dive pool if you want a pool that’s a bit deeper and there is also a designated area for the little ones with a water feature – keeping them entertained for hours.
After checking in and taking in the hotel it was time for dinner at Vila Ombak.
Dinner at Vila Ombak
Dinner at Vila Ombak was a buffet style dinner set right on the beach out the front of the hotel.
While we enjoyed dinner, an acoustic artist was playing to bring even more relaxed vibes to the gathering as the sunset over the opposite side of the island.
Time to head out
After dinner it was time to stretch the legs down the main street of the east side of the island and to experience some of the night life.
There is no shortage of bars along the main strip, so it was hard to make a choice, however, we all agreed on Pesona Beach Resort which had big cushions and small tables set up on the beach.
After a big day of activities, it was the perfect spot to kick back and relax with a couple of Bintangs whilst sharing a shisha (strawberry and blueberry mix) amongst the group – providing the perfect setting to formally get to know others amongst the famil group and hear their origin stories.
After a couple of hours, it was time to head back to the hotel with another day of water events planned – so a clear head and sound body would ideally be required.
After breakfast, it was a short 10-15min walk up the beach to grab some kayaks.
It’s been a while since I had been in a kayak but it didn’t really matter as the shallow waters of the area were quite calm – so perfect conditions to paddle around the waters.
Once on the kayak, we were instructed at where our best chances were to find turtles, luckily it wasn’t too far from our current location making for a nice leisurely kayak.
While I was kayaking along I spotted a turtle poking its head out of the water to see what was going on.
Due to the clear waters of Gili you could clearly see the bottom of the sea and the turtles swimming by. They might be slow moving on land but in the water they can sure can move.
Given I didn’t know how I would handle the kayak I decided against taking my phone out with me on the water – in hindsight I wish I had because on the clear day you can take in stunning panoramic views of the island and even see the mountains of Bali in the distance.
Would have been perfect shots for the Gram.
While others also hopped on SUPs and took in some drone footage I decided to lay back on the sun lounges with a fresh coconut – when in Gili T.
Lunch at Natys
Now that everyone had worked up a hunger we walked back towards the hotel on the Main Street stopping at Natys for lunch.
Again we were greeted with a selection of local dishes and of course cold beers and cocktails.
The view from Natys was perfect as we all sat along the bench overlooking the beach as we watched the waves hit the shore.
Doesn’t get much better.
The morning seas were a bit rough resulting in the guides deciding to postpone Underwater Walking. With the next chance to come later in the afternoon to depending on whether the waters have calmed down.
Unfortunately the winds were still strong so the activity was cancelled which allowed for free time – which was put to good use with shopping, massage and relaxing by and in the pool.
Underwater walking will see you walking along the sea bed some 4 meters below as you are able to easily get up close to marine life. This will definitely be on my list next time I’m in Gili T.
After an afternoon of free time we jumped on hire bikes to go and capture the island sunset.
If you want to catch the Gili sunset than the best place is the west side of the island. There are numerous bars and spots with lounge chairs and beanbags along the west side of the island so you can’t really go wrong to grab a nice view, however, Ombak Sunset is one of the best.
The sunset initially isn’t much different from what we’d see at a Cottesloe, Scrabs or City Beach except for the horses trotting up and down the beach.
The true magic though appeared once the sun had set below the horizon. I stunning combination of blue and yellow hues masked the silhouette of Bali, providing one of the most stunning views of the trip.
To further enjoy the sunset there are happy hour drinks available with yet again buy one get one free cocktail. Whisky sours were a hit for me – not your traditional whisky sour that we are used to in Perth – but it still did the trick.
After sunset and a delicious dinner, the journey to cycle back to Vila Ombak in the dark was the next adventure. Luckily everyone had their phones so we all put our flashes on and positioned them in our baskets on our bikes – job done.
The cycle back was quite calm and relaxing as you make your way along the coast. Apart from the sections that are lined with pubs and lights, you wouldn’t be crazy to think that at times you were the only one on the island.
Arriving back at Vila Ombak a few decided to charge on and a short walk down the road saw us a Jiggy Bar with the main calling card of this venue being RnB hits and 3 beer pong tables which are then surrounded by raised seating as everyone gathers to watch you play. Perth 100% needs a venue like this to bring everyone’s beer pong game to the forefront.
Jiggy Bar also has a special all you can drink for 3hrs for 150,000 so roughly $15. Not a bad deal at all! Alternatively, during happy hour Bintangs were 20,000 so roughly $2 ?.
After breakfast it was time to check out and then board the speed boat to head back to Lombok.
The trip back to Lombok took about 10minutes and had a few bumps but mostly wasn’t bad and to be honest quite fun in itself.
Once back on the ‘main land’ we boarded the bus to head up the mountainside for lunch at Roemah Langko for another traditional Lombok lunch.
The spread was even more amazing than the ones previous and if you weren’t a fan of chili you might have been in a bit of trouble.
A fitting way to spend the last meal together as part of the famil – from here we head back to the airport where it all began.
Lombok Trip Highlights
- Snorkeling and seeing the Jason deCaires Taylor sculptures
- Cooking class learning how to make Nasi Goreng
- Kayaking on the coast of Gili Trawangan with the turtles
- Taking in the sunset at Sunset Ombak
- Relaxed nature of Gili Trawangan
- 2 for 1 cocktail happy hours
- Cycling the islands
- Winning Beer Pong and leaving Lombok undefeated
While it would have been great to spend atleast a week in Lombok as there was so much more to see and do – I feel that I gave it good nudge within the 72 hours to take in some of the best things to see and do in Lombok.
It feels that Lombok is starting to hit its stride after the devastating 6.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the island of Lombok on the 5th of August, 2018 and the islands will only continue to progress and move forward.
When compared to Bali hotspots Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu, Lombok is a laid back paradise which will have you wondering why you haven’t been here before and question whether to go Bali or Lombok on your next north of the river holiday.
Personally, I feel that the next time you get the Bintang craving, why not take the flight path less traveled.
Thank you to AirAsia and Ministry of Tourism Republic Indonesia for the opportunity to visit Lombok and to experience this amazing destination. I will surely be back again and ready to explore more of Lombok and next time I am bringing a GoPro.
Adam traveled as a guest of AirAsia and Ministry of Tourism Republic Indonesia.