Lying to the east of Bali, Lombok is the quieter and less developed alternative to its more famous neighbour. If you’re looking for wide open spaces, relatively untouched beaches and the chance to enjoy outdoor activities, Lombok has it all. There's just one main beach resort on its mainland – laid-back Senggigi. Set on a sweeping bay between two headlands, the main beach is lined with resorts, restaurants and bars – yet you won’t have to go too far to find a relatively empty beach. Trekkers are enticed to the island by the towering active volcano of Mount Rinjani where, from the summit on a clear morning, a blue-green crater lake can be seen in all its glory, and Lombok’s lush, mountainous interior is ideal for walking and cycling.
Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno make up the fabled ‘Gilis’. Popular for years on the backpacker circuit, these rustic, bohemian islands lie offshore from mainland Lombok. They are car-free (the method of transport is either bicycle or horse-drawn carts called cidomos) and perhaps offer a taste of what some of Thailand’s islands may have been like in years gone by. And they’re not only for backpackers – some of the accommodation here is excellent.
Gili Trawangan – affectionately known as ‘Gili T’ – is the liveliest and most popular of the three islands but it’s still very chilled out. Diving is a big thing here, and the main street is populated with dive schools in between restaurants serving up freshly grilled seafood, market stalls and bars. Gili Meno is the smallest, prettiest and least developed of the Gilis. It’s perfect for spending your days castaway, lounging on the coral sands, snorkelling offshore amongst hawksbill and green sea turtles, and enjoying ice-cold beers as the sun goes down.