While Dermott Brereton was enjoying a visit to Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali, Jason Dundas was checking out Lombok and the Gili Islands just to the east.
So many island holiday spots were discovered by surfers, and Bali and its surrounding islands became the place to take the surfboard in the 70s. Lombok's legendary Desert Point may just have the best wave in the world.
It has warm, humid weather year round and a wet season from November to May. Its population of 2.5 million is made up of Balinese, Chinese, Arabs, Javanese and other ethnic groups in smaller numbers.
The Islamic culture of Lombok may be the reason it is quieter than Bali in terms of parties and nightlife. Locals are traditional and go about fishing and growing tobacco, corn and rice.
Highlights are surfing the legendary break, diving, snorkelling, off-the-beaten-track beaches and scaling the 3726 metre Gunung Rinjani volcano which has a beautiful lake in its crater. Lombok is becoming an increasingly popular honeymoon destination.
The cheapest way to get there from Bali is a four-hour ferry trip. You can also catch a fast boat or fly.
Once you're there, just ask a surfer anything you need to know and they can always point you in the right direction. Just chatting to some Aussie surfers, Jason learned they prefer Lombok over Bali as it's less crowded.
Sempiak Villas opened three coconut wood and stone boutique bungalows this year and a fourth is soon to follow. On the southern coast of the island overlooking Selong Belanak Bay and a sugary beach, it is a true retreat with natural beauty in an untouched place.
The villas were designed to reflect the surrounding area and their wide verandahs make the most of the views.
Chefs prepare delicious meals for in-villa or poolside dining. Villas also have fully-equipped kitchens.
Laze by the pool or take advantage of the library, DVDs or games. Boat and fishing excursions can be arrange, as well as walking tours, cooking classes and market visits.
For somewhere even more laid-back, Jason took a boat to Gili Trawangan, the largest of Lombok's three Gili Islands, and the only one to rise significantly above sea level. They are known for their white coral beaches and diversity of sea life such as turtles, reef sharks and lots of small and large fish.
It's home to around just 700 and has most of the tourist facilities including the Tîr na Nôg pub, making it the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub!
Hotel Vila Ombak was the first international hotel on the island. The traditional-style property has first class accommodation blending with natural beauty. There are huts, bungalows, cottages and pool villas to choose from and all are beautifully comfortable and decorated. It offers a good selection of eating and drinking places, including a poolside bar/restaurant.
None of the Gilis have motorised vehicles. The way to get around is by walking, cycling or by horse and cart, known as a cidomo.
Jason found Trawangan to be relaxed and an easy place to meet new friends. Even beach vendors are more laid back than anywhere else, and generally enjoy just having a chat.
Each day between 11am and noon, women unload fruit, vegetables, meat and other goodies near the harbour. It's busy and colourful and like markets around the world, is a good place to mingle with locals.
The Indonesian islands of Lombok and Gili Trawangan.
Sempiak Villas start at $150 a night.
Virgin Australia has one-way flights to Denpasar from:
- Perth $299
- Adelaide $399
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $439
The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Prices correct at October 1, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 13 6789
Nusa Tenggara Barat
Ph: 62 821 4430 3337
Hotel Vila Ombak
Gili Trawangan Island
Kabupaten Lombok Utara
Ph: 62 370 642 336
Visa: Australian passports must have a minimum validity of 6 months from date of arrival. 7 day and 30 day visas are available on arrival. Requirements and fees change regularly, so check with the Indonesia Consulate for current information.
Electricity: Current is 22V, 50Hz. Sockets are two-pin plugs and adaptors and cheap and on sale everywhere.
Time zone: GMT +8 hours.
Currency: Indonesian rupiah.
Telephone code: 62 370.
It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for areas you will be visiting. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.