The main jumping off point for Sumbawa and a host of other tropical eastern islands, East Lombok, as a destination in its own right, is well and truly under the radar. From the southern foothills of Rinjani volcano to the arid south, there are few established tourist facilities but an abundance of colourful traditional life and culture. The landscape is a patchwork of rolling fields of copra, coffee, tobacco and rice, while along the coast, pearl, seaweed and lobster farms nestle alongside isolated black volcanic sand beaches.
In the market towns and tiny villages that dot the countryside, traditional arts and crafts are still very much alive and well. Pringasela, Loyok and Suradadi villages produce renowned woven garments, bamboo and wood carvings respectively and the whole region is steeped in the heritage of age-old "Sasak" dance and music. There are a handful of small beach resorts dotted along the coastline fringed by scenic beaches that are both awe inspiring and almost always completely deserted. If this wasn’t quite enough, East Lombok is also home to that all too rare pleasure – a real life castaway experience. Invitingly close to the shore are dozens of tiny atolls and islands, known as "Gilis." Most are uninhabited and all can boast pure tranquility, picturesque beaches and sensational snorkelling.
Exploring East Lombok
With a little imagination and your own wheels, there is a lot to see and do in East Lombok, though most visitors tend to pack it all in on a day tour from the west coast. Better still, take it slow, spend a few days exploring and the people, art, culture and scenery will really leave a lasting impression. As long as a throbbing nightlife is not a priority, there is something for everyone. For a little arty introduction to East Lombok, head to the celebrated pottery centre of Masbagik and the neighbouring village of Bunjeruk, noted as the centre of Lombok puppet culture or "Wayang Sasak." Just a short drive is the commercial hub of Selong, – great for street market bargain hunters and a few interesting examples of old Dutch colonial architecture.
To escape the heat, there is nowhere better than the delightful mountain village of Sapit or lush Tete Batu, surrounded by monkey filled forests and misty views of Mt Rinjani. The main coastal settlement here is Labuhan Lombok, a bustling market town that doubles as the transit point for the short ferry ride across to Sumbawa. From here, the views across the Alas Strait are sublime and you want to be a castaway for a day, simply charter an outrigger boat to one of the nearby offshore islands, such as Gili Kondo or Gili Lampu, both dreamily tranquil and boasting superb reef snorkeling.
Return to the Lombok regional overview page.