21 September 2015
It’s easy to while away a week or two in Indonesia’s island paradise of Lombok, writes Tatyana Leonov.
When it comes to Indonesia, Bali is the first port of call for most Aussies. But looking to keep away from the crowds, I was keen on checking out Lombok, often referred to as Bali’s little sister.
I imagined a place with all the mod cons associated with comfortable travel (plush hotels, idyllic pools, lengthy spa menus) – just minus the commotion.
My suspicion is that in 20 years' time, maybe less, Lombok won’t be quite as peaceful as it is today. But for now? I'm anticipating a relaxing holiday in a tranquil island paradise. I packed my e-book, a few bikinis, and not much else.
“Your villa has a private jacuzzi pool. I hope that’s all right, ma’am?” As welcomes go, my arrival at Puri Mas Beach Resort & Spa is the best one I’ve had to date.
After my refreshing welcome drink, two smiling staff members chaperone me to my oversized villa (seriously – we’re talking bigger than your average Sydney one-bedder).
My lovely room is fit out with local-inspired furnishings, while outside there’s a small Balinese-style garden and, sure enough, a jacuzzi.
I belly flop onto the massive bed, jump underneath the rain shower and fiddle around with the jacuzzi settings, then set off o explore the resort grounds.
Exploring the island
Although my big plan was to relax completely, I’m drawn to the many activities that Lombok has to offer. So I head out to explore with my guide Hassan, who laughs when I tell him I think a day should do it.
First up, he takes me to see the magnificent Sendang Gile waterfall, an excursion that makes me realise island holidays are not all about the beaches.
After a drive through lush rice fields, we spend an hour wandering around the Pura Lingsar temple complex (one of Lombok’s holiest sites)
Later, I fall in love with Kuta on Lombok's south coast – it's Indonesia’s answer to Surfer’s Paradise, without all the flashy highrises. Bronzed surfers bob on the swell like dolphins waiting to catch the next wave.
As dusk slowly creeps over the beach signalling the day's end, the surfers head off to their thatch beach bungalows to recuperate. I notice several signs for surf schools scattered around and make a mental note to book a lesson next time I’m in town.
The word "gili" means "small island", and there are 26 of these little pockets of serenity peppered around Lombok. The famous trio of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are the most visited.
I join the crowd one morning on Trawangan, the largest and busiest of the three, then jump in a tinny and head to Gili Meno to relax. It's just 2km long and has remained largely immune to the party scene, but it’s a short boat ride away from the other two and serves as a great base if you want peace during the day and entertainment at night.
I learn there are even quieter islands around, and the next day I voyage to Gili Nanggu, home to just one simple cottage-style resort. After a refreshing snorkel among colourful darting fish I jump back in the boat.
My skipper grins at me. “I’m going to take you to a completely uninhabited island," he tells me. "Are you ready for paradise?”
I look at him quizzically as he starts the motor. “But I thought we were already there?”
WHERE TO STAY: Puri Mas Boutique Resort & Spa is home to an array of beautiful, stylish villas. purimas-lombok.com
GETTING THERE: Garuda Indonesia flies to Lombok via Denpasar from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. garuda-indonesia.com