After leaving Perth, B and I flew a short 3 and a half hour flight to the little island of Lombok in Indonesia and were immediately captivated by its beauty. The island is largely covered in thick, luscious green vegetation, with rugged coastline broken up by largely unspoilt beaches. We drove nearly two hours to our resort on the northern West coast – Qunci Villas. It was the first time for us travelling together and staying somewhere so fancy – we normally try to stay at cheaper, local homestays or smaller villas when travelling in South East Asia, and when we do splash out for a night or two’s accommodation somewhere a little bit more upmarket its still relatively modest. Qunci was amazing however, and it was nice to spend a few days relaxing by the pool. It was my birthday whilst I was there and my friends gave me some money to get a spa treatment, which was heavenly.
We also took a trip down south through central Lombok and down to the southern beaches. The landscape to the south was a little different, and it was far less touristy that the northern region where we were staying. We visiting a local market and were amazed by all the fresh produce – though a little put off by some of the meat and fish sitting out in the hot sun covered in flies! We were the only tourists there and it was nice to explore the market and talk to some of the locals (or point and use hand-signals when we weren’t able to communicate in English). I was really intrigued by the huge tubs of homemade tempeh, it’s definitely something I’d like to try my hand at making once the weather warms up here.
On the drive home it started to pour with rain which mad all the adults run for shelter and then children run out into the streets to jump in the puddles. We also saw quite a few kids lathering up with soap and shampoo – water is a scarce commodity and it makes you realise just how much we take for granted living somewhere where it seems as though we have an infinite supply.
Where to eat and drink – Lombok
- Qunci Villas, Mangsit beach – to be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed by the food at Qunci villas. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t terrible by any means, but considering the price and the standard of the rest of the hotel, I wasn’t as wowed by the food as what I was expecting to be. It is still definitely worth checking out however (just don’t head there with expectations as high as mine! ;) Cocktail hour (5-7pm) however was great with a wide selection of drinks that were not overly sugary, with honey or sugarcane juice used to sweeten the cocktails instead. They also did fresh juices and a great tapas selection – the raw vegetable wraps with cashew cheese and spicy edamame were favorites.
- Full moon bar, Kuta beach – a simple open air space with a view out over the beach. Great, simple Indonesian food, and cheap coconut water.
- Jeeva Klui – This resort was the next bay along to us and we caught a taxi there one night for dinner. I found the menu to be a bit limited (barely no vegetarian options) however we ended up both having local curries which tasted amazing. The service was outstanding here as well.
- La chill bar, Sengiggi – a cute and charming little bar on the beach with a mainly western menu. We shared a few delicious thin crust pizzas and a huge Greek salad.
Either side of our stay at Qunci Villas, we stayed on the Gili Islands. The Gili Isalnds are made up of three smaller islands – Air, Meno and Trawangan – which are located off the North Western tip of Lombok. We spend two islands on Gili Air, four on Gili Trawangan and also spent a day on Meno. Gili Air was by far our favorite and we wished we’d had more time there. There were quite a few accommodation/dining options, the nicest beaches and it was still relatively quiet. We walked around the island 3 times in our two days there – it only took a little over an hour – and beautiful white sandy beaches continue the whole way around.
We spent quite a bit of time sitting in various bars and cafes and talking to the locals, who seemed far friendlier and willing to have a chat than those on Gili T, perhaps because the other two smaller islands seemed a lot more relaxed and laid back, and also saw a much lower number of tourists pass through. Gili Air has a greater local population and it was interesting to walk through the crisscrossed inland roads which were filled with houses, chickens, cows, soccer pitches and a school, as opposed to on Gili T where the middle of the island was largely still geared towards tourism, bring filled with accommodation and other tourist service options.
Where to eat and drink Gili Islands
- Kayu Cafe, Gili Trawangan – This lovely little cafe has indoor (airconditioned) seating, as well as rooftop and ocean-side tables. They serve fresh cold-press juices and smoothies, salads and wraps plus health tonics and shots (aloe, wheatgrass, turmeric etc) and kombucha. My favorite place for delicious fresh, healthy food on the islands!
- Pearl Lounge Bar, Gili Trawangan – A bar and restaurant on the beach at the southern end of the main strip on Gili T, Pearl offers a large number of big, brightly coloured beanbags on the beach to lounge on during the day as well as tables for evening meals. They offer a good variety of local and Western food including a tapas menu. They also sell fruit juices, however beware of the mixed variety, smoothies and cocktails, which are all overly sweet and sugary.
- Scallywags, Gili Trawangan and Air – decked out with comfy lounges and lanterns, this popular restaurant spreads along the beachside south of the harbour on Gili T. There is also a sister restaurant on the beach in Gili Air, with both places also offering accommodation. I had a disappointing nasi goreng here, but the salads were good, as were burgers (so I was told). They also serve fresh juices.
- Pesona, Gili Trawangan – This Indian restaurant/shisha bar was packed every night and for good reason – they serve up delicious Indian curries (I’d advise to skip the unimpressive naan breads though).
- Chill Out Bar, Gili Air – we went here for dinner our first night on Gili Air as the place was buzzing, and with good reason too – the restaurant is right on the beach and the food is delicious – we ended up going back again the second night. I tried local dishes both nights which were filled with fresh vegetables and tempeh, and tasted amazing.
- Safari Beach Bar, Gili Air – an unassuming little bar on the south west coast with friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere made a great little place to watch the sunset each night
- Casa Vintage, Gili Trawangan – this isn’t actually a cafe or bar (although I do believe that is in the works) but they stock beautifully-sourced vintage clothing and accessories, and well worth seeking out. Located in the interior of the island behind the yoga studio.
We had 24 hours in Bali on our way home, staying in a small hotel in Seminyak. Bali is such a change of pace to Lombok – it’s busier and louder and as a popular tourist haunt its very much geared towards Westerners. We spent most of our time looking around in the shops, buying some leather goods and clothes, and eating at Chandi, my favorite restaurant in Bali. We also stopped by Earth Cafe for breakfast and travel snack supplies, and watched the sun set from Seminyak beach on our last night. It was the perfect end to our holiday.