LOMBOK :.


Where

A stone’s throw from Bali, Lombok rises majestically and suddenly out of the Indian Ocean. It sits between 8 and 9 degrees south, in the centre of the southern tropical trade-wind belt. This western most island of Nusa Tenggara is the beginning of the dry side of Indonesia; you’ll notice that the forested landscapes give way to arid scrub. The whole deal is 80 by 80 km. Ferries and planes go from Bali, and the main airport, Mataram on the west coast, is well connected to most big Indonesian towns. It’s in an ideal position for quick boat trips from Bali.

Background

Lombok is in some ways a flash-back to Bali in the 70’s. It is considerably less developed for tourism, and has nothing like the volume of food and accommodation options. Apart from these obvious parallels, the comparisons falter. The population on Lombok is 90% Sasak, an ethno-cultural group sharing characteristics and beliefs with Javanese and Sumbawanese. People are very friendly, often surprising visitors with their generous hospitality, although you will not always find the universal openness to Westerners that sets Bali apart. The scenery is breathtaking; Mount Rinjani dominates the entire island, and the laid-back Gilis off the west coast have incredible diving and pristine beaches. The semi arid bays of the south coast, such as Selong Belanak, are an unforgettable backdrop to a surf session.

The Setup

Lombok’s surf-rich south coast is a craggy stretch that offers enough angles to cater for both dry and wet-season wind directions. Whilst swell supply to some name breaks is not in ready supply, it’s unlikely you’ll go more than a few days without some form of rideable wave. Most breaks are coral reef based, and very much influenced by tide. Many of the best waves are in deeply recessed bays, requiring considerable refraction. A craggy bathymetry along the south coast results in waves funneling into unlikely places. The Lombok Strait, running up the west coast, is an extremely deep bottle-neck of water, which is why currents here can be extremely strong between tides. Full moon surfing at mid tide Desert Point for example, can be an Iron Man’s challenge. Beaches are mostly white calcarious sand, and among the most beautiful in Indonesia.

The Waves

Indian Ocean power reaches Lombok’s south coast with similar intensity to Bali’s southwest coast, yet there are waves here for all levels. Experiences vary from the hollow, critical and challenging Desert Point, to fat, fun Grupuk Bay rights. There are great waves on the east and west coasts too, but these are among the most fickle in the Indian Ocean. There is no predominance of lefts vs rights although the most famous wave here is the ultimate goofy foot experience.

Season

Typical trade-wind patterns prevail; east to southeast airflows in the dry season (May to September), and west to northwest in the wet (November to April). The south coast is most consistent in the dry season, but gets waves all year round. When wet season winds blow westerly, you’ll find an array of reefs and right-hand points that will be perfect. The huge volcano and mountains of Lombok also assist between seasons, by giving some morning off-shores as the cool night air drops down and fans out. Lombok is a true year-round surf zone.

Crowds

Good waves are always crowded, but Lombok has been out of fashion in recent years. The south coast area around Kuta is a fairly quiet corner at the moment; if you spend a week or more there you will get some lonely sessions in. High season, from June to August, will witness crowds, and certain spots will get a sudden influx of boats at a given moment; it pays to be mobile, and to get up early.
Boards

Generally, your usual board plus 6 inches length, and 1/4 inch thickness, will cover most Lombok situations. Waves are hollow and straight, so the rhino chaser approach doesn’t always pay off, tending to limit your position changes in the barrel, or even catch. If your short board is a 6’3’’, then the ideal plan might be to take it along plus a 6’8 and a 7’2”. Longboards are usable at many south Lombok breaks.

Hazards

Travelling around can be a challenge with, variable road quality around Bangko Bangko and the south coast. 4WD is a good option, and some roads are only passable by bike. Rip-offs are not uncommon around south coast surf spots. There have been episodes of aggressive behaviour from some locals. Some of these reports are apocryphal, but street-wisdom, diplomacy and caution are a must. The usual reef cut advisory stands, particularly at Desert Point. The odd shark is seen but no recorded attacks. The drier climate reduces the presence of malaria bearing mosquitoes, but check with your doc about prophylaxis before you go.

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