Lombok is the most popular destination in Nusa Tenggara, with the fabled Gili Islands drawing visitors for action both in and out of the water, mighty Gunung Rinjani luring trekkers, and the big breaks on the south coast a magnet for surfers. Matram, Lombok’s capital, is a good spot for day trips to the surrounding areas, and nearby Senggigi is superbly positioned along a stretch or sweeping bays. In east Lombok, the very scenic Sumbawa offers low key tourism and some good surf breaks.
The island of Lombok shapes up at about 80km from east to west and about the same from north to south, with lush evergreen landscapes and parts which are chronically dry. Droughts, particularly in the south and east, can last for months, causing crop failure and famine – though recent improvements in water management have made life in Lombok less precarious.
Rice is an important crop, though yields are lower here than on neighbouring islands. Tobacco, coconuts, coffee, kapok and cotton are also important crops, while cloves, vanilla, pineapple and pepper have also been introduced.
The indigenous Sasak (around 90% of the population) are Muslims but have a culture and language unique to Lombok. There’s also a significant Hindu Balinese minority – a legacy of the time when Bali controlled Lombok.