Lombok is an island next to the east of Bali in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. Although it's close to Bali, the culture and language are different than Bali. Unlike Hindu Balinese, Lombok's inhabitants are 85% Sasak, whose ancestors have migrated from Java in the first millennium BC and are predominantly Muslim.
The topography is dominated by the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, Mount Rinjani (3,727 m), where UNESCO has made its caldera a part of the Global Geoparks Network. The highlands of Lombok are forest and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated due to their fertile soils. The southern part of the island is fertile but drier. The most recent development is Mandalika International Street Circuit in the central, where it hosted MotoGP Superbike World Championship last month.
Nevertheless, Gili Islands or "The Gilis" or "The 3 Gilis" are more popular with tourists than the main island of Lombok. The Gilis refers to the three small islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno - on the northwest coast of Lombok. White sandy beaches with turquoise seawater surround them all.
Not many know that the name "Gili Islands" is a misnomer because Gili means "small island" in the Sasak language; therefore, most of the islands around the coast of Lombok have Gili in their names. In fact, there are 35 Gilis in total!
Lombok and surrounding Gilis offer excellent underwater to dive in. You can dive in Senggigi on the west coast of Lombok Island, The 3 Gilis off the northwest coast, The Gilis in Sekotong off the west coast, The Gilis off the east coast, and Belongas Bay on the south coast. Get our free ebook here for more complete dive places in Lombok and dozens of others in Indonesia.
Scuba diving around Lombok will give you a chance to see beautiful corals, plenty of reef fish, macro creatures, sharks, turtles, and hammerheads. You can even swim with dolphins if you want to make your day even more special! Diving in Lombok ranges from drift diving to wreck diving and is suitable for all levels of divers.
What are the highlights of diving in Lombok?
There are plenty of great sites for scuba diving in Lombok, but the three best are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. They offer excellent visibility with mild currents, making it the perfect place to learn scuba diving or beginner divers. In addition, the Gili Islands are well-known for their turtle population, especially the green turtles and the hawksbill turtles. It is also easy to see sharks. Another big draw for these locations is the clear water that allows you to see deep into the ocean, making spectacular views.
In contrast, the lesser-known Gilis, located in Sekotong and East Lombok, offer picturesque beaches, calm dive conditions, and unspoiled fringing reefs. Due to their remote location, you'll likely be the only group in the water, adding to the peace and tranquility.
Experienced divers should head to Belongas Bay in South Lombok to see hammerheads sharks schooling. Unfortunately, not many people know about this place, so read our article in the special section below!
Lombok Diving Tips
Here are some Lombok diving tips:
- There are plenty of dive centers and shops all over the islands, so you won't have any trouble finding one.
- Diving equipment is readily available for rent all over Lombok.
- It has a wide variety of diving conditions, making it perfect for all levels of scuba divers, from beginner to experienced.
- The water temperature ranges from 27-29 degrees Celsius.
- Visibility is between 15 and 30 meters.
If you're looking for a fun diving experience, be sure to add Lombok to your list! The island has something for everyone - from beautiful beaches to world-class diving spots!
What is the best time of year to go diving in Lombok?
Scuba diving in Lombok and Gili Islands is possible all year round. The best season runs from May to September for the best weather yet not too packed with tourists. The best time to avoid it is during the rainy season, which runs from November to March, but it doesn't rain that much, though it will reduce visibility quite a bit. The peak tourist season occurs between July and August and December and January.
Lombok water temperature
The diving conditions in Lombok are excellent. The water is clean and clear, with an average temperature of 27-29 degrees Celcius. Visibility is usually good, ranging from 15 to 30 meters.
Which Gili Islands is best for diving?
If you're talking about the famous three Gilis off the northwest coast of Lombok, here is a breakdown:
Gili Trawangan – The largest island and most developed one with numerous dive centers. It has a wide variety of dive sites, including coral gardens and walls. You can see whitetip and blacktip sharks and sometimes gray sharks in Shark point. In the rainy season (November-December), there is a big chance to see manta rays.
Gili Air - This smaller island offers calm waters perfect for beginner divers. It's home to several shallow reefs and a WWII shipwreck. There are also several muck dives where you can find small creatures like seahorses and nudibranchs.
Gili Meno – The smallest and most secluded of the three Gili Islands. It's known for its wall and beautiful coral gardens with many hawksbill and green turtles.
Sekotong Bay in the west of Lombok, has some Gilis such as Gili Nanggu, Gili Renggit, and Gili Kura-Kura. They are mostly shallow and sloping coral gardens with many colorful reef fish.
In the east coast of Lombok, there are plenty of Gilis to explore, such as Gili Kondo, Gili Bidara, Gili Petagan, Gili Petelu, and Gili Asahan. There are 50 dive sites with beautiful coral gardens and plenty of reef fish. So you will indeed have a fantastic diving experience no matter which Gili you choose!
Lombok diving to see hammerhead schooling
On the south coast of Lombok Island, Belongas Bay is stunning and untouched with crashing waves that get the blood pumping. Unfortunately, its remote location makes limited phone and internet reception; therefore, no credit card or ATM in the area. However, this is the place to see hammerhead schooling!
If you're an experienced diver, head to The Magnet point to see scalloped and great hammerhead sharks schooling from June to October. Within 30 minutes, you'll reach a rock pinnacle out in the open ocean, rising from around 60 meters. However, the sea conditions can be rough, as waves crashing into the pinnacle can be seen from the surface. Therefore, a negative entry is required. Apart from hammerheads, you can see big tuna, Mobula rays, eagle rays, barracudas, big schools of fusiliers, and black tip, white tip, and grey reef sharks. Be aware that water temperature drops to 21-24 degrees Celcius, so wear a 5mm wetsuit.
Suppose you're looking for something a bit tamer; there are several dive sites closer to the bay with beautiful coral gardens, excellent macro opportunities, and occasional passing rays and pelagics.
Belongas Bay takes around one hour of driving by private car, both from Lombok airport or Lembar Port. The Lodge at Belongas Bay is the best place to stay, with four bedrooms. However, for those seeking a more rustic experience, some basic homestays are available near the bay. Unfortunately, electricity runs only a few hours a day without hot water.
There are plenty of little warungs (local restaurants) to get some cheap food and drinks, but be prepared for some long, bumpy rides. The best way to explore the area is by renting a motorbike, as it gives you the freedom to roam; just be careful on the dirt roads and watch out for the monkeys! If you don't feel comfortable on a bike, the easiest way around is by ojek (motorcycle taxi).
So, if you're looking for an adventure and want to see some hammerheads, Belongas Bay is the place to be! Prepare yourself for a mix of everything - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Lombok diving course
Lombok has the highest open water scuba diving certification in Indonesia. Located between Bali and Lombok, divers can find various dive sites to explore, like The 3 Gilis. The rich marine life and clear waters make for a perfect diving experience. In addition, there are many dive schools located in Lombok that offer courses for all levels of divers.
Most of the dive sites offer excellent conditions for beginner divers, with depths ranging from 10 to 30 meters. The 3 Gilis provides a relaxing and scenic drift dive that provides a perfect introduction to exploring the islands. Various corals, marine life, and caves lay hidden on the reefs. Coral Garden, Shark Point, and Japanese Wreck are famous dive sites. However, divers can explore the area further to find sizeable pelagic fish like tuna and barracuda.
The Gilis will offer an unforgettable snorkeling experience. Schools of colorful fish like clownfish, batfish, and parrotfish are common in this area's waters. There are also turtles inhabiting the nearby reefs.
Which is better, diving in Bali or Lombok?
You will probably be surprised by the big difference between Bali and Lombok, although they are close. Bali has a larger area and is more developed than Lombok. As a result, Bali may have more advanced facilities and a wide variety of amenities, but Lombok is quieter, more laidback, and less touristy.
Bali and Lombok have more or less similar underwater marine life. They both have a wide variety of corals, reef fish, pelagic, macro critters, and shipwrecks suitable for all levels of divers and mostly take a short boat ride. However, although Bali has more dive centers and better facilities, Lombok has more turtles and manta rays. And to see hammerhead sharks, only Lombok has it that Bali doesn’t.
We would recommend either place for scuba diving, but it is better to combine Bali and Lombok to get the best of both worlds because they are close to each other.
How to get to Lombok
The easiest way to reach Lombok is by flying to Lombok Praya International Airport (LOP). From Jakarta, you can fly from Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK) for 2 hours. From Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) to Lombok, it takes 40 minutes.
The best hotels in Lombok Island are mainly located around Kuta Beach, Senggigi Beach, and Mataram City. From the airport to The 3 Gilis, it takes 1,5 hours by car then 20 minutes by boat.
There are several ways to go from Bali to Lombok, depending on your budget and time constraints. The most popular option is by ferry ride for six hours from Padang Bai in Bali to Lembar in Lombok. While this is a cheaper alternative than flying, it takes much longer.
If you want to go straight to one of The 3 Gilis, take a fast boat from Padang Bai in South Bali for only 1,5 hours. This route is perfect if you stay in Jimbaran, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, Denpasar, and Ubud. On the other hand, if you stay in North Bali around Amed or Tulamben, take a fast boat which only takes 1 hour.
The 3 Gilis are small islands, so there is no local transportation except horse carts (the locals call “cidomo”) in the bigger Gili Trawangan. You may want to take a horse cart than carry your luggage on the sand. Depending on the distance, it costs between IDR 40,000 to 75,000 (USD 3-5) for a trip from the harbor to your hotel.
Scuba diving is very popular in Lombok and Gili Islands, which are located next to Bali. There are also many dive sites in Sekotong and East Lombok, which are still quiet. Diving in Lombok ranges from drift diving to wreck diving and is suitable for all divers levels. You can dive all year round in this area, highlighting green and hawksbill turtles. Due to its mild current and good visibility, Lombok has the highest number of open water scuba diving licenses in Indonesia. For an experienced diver, Lombok is the place to see hammerhead sharks schooling.
Read our in-depth articles on scuba diving in Raja Ampat, Komodo, Bali, and more here. Then, drop your comments below to share your experience or ask questions!
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