Lombok’s capital is Mataram, a sprawling city of half a million people located about mid-way down the island’s west coast. In part modern city with shopping centres and wide tree lined streets and part crowded suburbs with narrow, clogged streets and markets spilling out onto the roadway, it’s an interesting blend of old and new.
Less than 10km to the north and ideally located for easy access to the rest of the island, Senggigi is Lombok’s main tourist precinct. The term Sengiggi applies to the region that incorporates three beautiful bays stretching for several kilometres. There’s resorts, hotels and guesthouses strung out along its entire length but be aware that most of the restaurants, warungs, shops and tourist facilities are concentrated towards the middle along a 500m strip adjacent to Sengiggi Beach so keep this in mind when you’re booking accommodation. Don’t expect the same level of development as Bali’s main tourist areas; there’s no shopping to speak of other than your basic tourist market and souvenir shops but you will find ATM’s, mini-marts, laundry services, tour agents, hair dressing, masseuse, dive shops and snorkel hire off the beach. From the wharf at the southern end of Sengiggi Beach you can also catch a fast boat to the Gili Islands or charter a traditional outrigger boat if you prefer a slower pace.
Tanjung, Lombok’s second tourist precinct is a little further north. Sandwiched between palm fringed beaches and the slopes of Mount Rinjani, the region is home to some of Lombok’s finest resorts and luxury villas.
To the south of Mataram, tucked into Lembar Bay is Lombok’s main sea port called, surprisingly, Lembar. Sekotong, a developing tourist precinct with mid-range and upmarket accommodation is located across the bay. At the moment its quiet and laid back but has long been earmarked for some major tourist developments so watch this space.
Not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta, the Kuta on Lombok is a quiet fishing village on the south coast about 1.5 hours from Sengiggi. If you can drag yourself away from Kuta’s chilled out ambience, it’s a perfect base from which to explore the incredibly beautiful south coast. Popular with surfers, budget travellers and families it has a range of budget to mid-range accommodation, restaurants and warungs and lots of charm.