Tag Archive: lombok

Scuba Diving South Lombok

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.

Hope you guys come and visit, and have a great day;)

Tips for Traveling Around Lombok

In general when travelling Lombok you should drink plenty of fluid (water and fruit juices) to avoid dehydration. It’s certainly better to drink bottled water. Even in hotels it is best not to drink straight from the tap. Ice in drinks, however, is usually not a problem. Use common sense when choosing a place to eat. Eat in established restaurants that are clean, and if you are trying the hawkers in the street stick to those not serving meat unless your system is already well adjusted.

If you are using prescription drugs bring a sufficient supply. Pharmacies (apoteks) often can fulfill a prescription but the dosage may not be quite the same as your doctor has prescribed. Promptly take care of any cuts or burns – do not risk infection in this heat and humidity.

You can exchange most major world currencies (cash or traveler’s cheques) easily into Indonesian Rupiah. All hotels offer currency exchange but at less favorable exchange rates. It is best to change your money while still in the “tourist area” before visiting south, central or east Lombok. In these areas there are neither money changers nor credit card payment possibilities available!

In tourist areas (Senggigi or Gili Trawangan) and in the capital Mataram there are several “authorized” money changers available. If you choose to deal with a money changer – here are a couple of points worth remembering. First, the rate posted on the door usually is for amounts in notes of USD 100 – lesser denominated notes (i.e. USD 50) will be given a less favorable rate. Verify the exchange calculation next (ask to use the calculator or bring your own) and count your change before you leave the window. Lastly, be prepared, if you are cashing traveler’s cheques you will need to present your passport for identification and many money changers do not accept cash notes that have been defaced – or are in less than near mint condition. The official exchange rate is daily posted in all major newspapers. Also, rates that are too good to be true – generally watch out for.

Credit cards are accepted at better restaurants and retailers (tourist areas). But be aware, most retailers add an extra 3 – 5 % on your bill for the privilege of using plastic. You do not have to accept this: You’re not going to get anywhere arguing with the shopkeeper but if you want to get this surcharge back make sure the retailer or restaurant writes it down as an extra charge for using the card and then claim it from your monthly billing.

Most large hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge of between 5 – 10 percent to your bill which is quite sufficient. Smaller restaurants generally don’t add anything extra, but considering that the waiter’s wage may well be less than $1.00 a day – a tip of 5 – 10 percent is very much appreciated. Bellmen generally get Rp. 500 – Rp.1,000 for a small to medium sized piece of luggage, and with taxi drivers it is the norm to round up to the nearest Rp. 500 or Rp. 1,000 depending on the length of the trip. With tour guides tipping is up to you – just remember that your driver will probably receive a commission from anything you’ll purchase during the day.

Making Memories and Blowing Bubbles in Lombok

Lebaran was over and the crowds had returned home so it was an ideal time to get out of Jakarta for a few days of chilling out and to celebrate my better half’s birthday.

As my wife and I are not so fond of Bali and we wanted to find an alternative. Both of us are avid divers and prefer to spend less on lodging and nightlife so we could spend more on our SCUBA habits.

We searched for a place that is reasonably priced, relatively easy to get to, clean/comfortable facilities, nice beaches, good snorkeling and of course good diving. We got lucky on our search and found an ideal spot for a long weekend. South Lombok.

South West Sekotong’s Gili Asahan to be exact. The dive sites exceeded our expectations but it was the resort where we stayed that made the trip exceptional.

We flew Lion Air to Mataram and met up with the driver for a comfortable hour car ride to the southwest coast of Lombok, and them we took a short 45 minute boat ride through the beautiful island filled coast line to Gili Asahan.

Gili Asahan is a tiny island that has one small local village and a small operational pearl farm. The only other facility on the island is the Resort. There are only 4 bungalows and is managed by a wonderful Belgium lady named Martine, and her husband, George, manages the diving operations.

The bungalows were finished earlier this summer and still had that “new” smell to them. They offer spacious accommodations that include an in-suite garden bathroom for great hot showers after a day of diving. At night, one can open the windows on each side of the room and enjoy a relaxing sleep on the soft queen size bed. There is no air conditioning but the ceiling fan and the ocean breeze usually keep it cool enough to enjoy a good night’s rest.

Rising early, one can catch a spectacular sunrise over the neighboring islands and then in the evening, take a short hike to the top of a small hill and catch an equally spectacular sunset.

The diving exceeded our expectations. Prior to going, I had heard some horror stories about Lombok diving but I am pleased to say there were no indications of coral bleaching and happily no signs of damages caused by dynamiting or cyanide fishing. All the reefs we visited were healthy and thriving.

We did 9 dives over 4 days and it seemed each dive was better than the previous one. We were fortunate to have two British PADI Dive Instructors as our “dive masters” that knew the sites well. The marine life was good as we saw a variety of colorful nudibranchs, turtles on almost every dive and the typical array of coral reef fish. However it was the size and abundance of corals that will draw us back. There were huge fan corals 4-5 meters long and 2-3 meters high sitting along with some astounding barrel corals over 2 meters wide. The soft corals were brilliant and brimming with the typical colorful marine life that one expects of healthy reefs.

We spent five nights and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed, quiet ambiance of the place. However there was one surprise left. Knowing it was my wife’s birthday but lacking a baking oven, our hostess Martine, struggled with how to have a birthday cake. She came up with a perfect solution of delicious Belgium pancakes stacked to resemble a cake. It was topped with fresh fruit and a candle. To end the evening and the trip, there was a roaring bonfire on the beach with plenty of cold brews and native fruit juices. Our laughter bounced across the gentle waves as we reminisced of the previous days.

I recommend this experience to anyone looking for a relaxing, tranquil holiday. Perhaps those with kids or those that prefer a lively nightlife, this is not a good fit. However, it is ideal for couples, honeymooners and those that just like to get away from it all for a few days and chill.