LOMBOK & THE GILI ISLANDS
Lombok is Bali’s lesser-known neighbour, separated by the Lombok Strait and situated in the Nusa Tenggara province with Sumbawa to its east. A slow pace of life gives this island a rustic feel, with highlands cloaked in thick forest and fertile lowlands inhabited by famers growing produce such as rice, soybeans, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cacao and vanilla.
Unlike the Balinese, who are mainly Hindu, the indigenous Sasak people of Lombok are mostly Muslim, so the skyline is dotted with mosques and minarets. Cultural sights are plentiful, with the traditional weavers and textile makers in Sukarara, the Pura Kalasa temple in Narmada, and the capital of Mataram. Three villages in particular are known for their pottery skills: Banjy Mulek, Penujak and Masbaik, each village with its own signature style.
Indonesia’s second highest volcano at 12,224m, Mount Rinjani dominates Lombok’s landscape and is revered by natives and tourists alike who ascend the trail to its crater rim. Lombok’s other popular adventure activity is surfing just off these white sandy beaches. Southern Lombok’s surfing is considered some of the best in the world with large polar lows pushing up through the Indian Ocean between late March and September. Sekotong, in the southwest of the island, has a number of interesting scuba diving spots, and Lombok has plenty of stunning drop-offs, plateaus and slopes.
Just offshore lie the Gili Islands, a hippy vision of paradise. Made up of three islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, these specks of land are fringed with coconut palm-lined white beaches and boast a heady combination of blissful relaxation and laid-back nightlife.
WHEN TO CHARTER A YACHT: Lombok & the Gili Islands are best visited during the dry season between April and October.