A short flight from Bali, Lombok is coming into its own as a destination for travelers. Largely unspoiled and rural, Lombok is culturally diverse. West Lombok has a large Balinese Hindu minority that gives this part of Lombok a distinct flair. West Lombok is home to the Balinese era royal palace and several large Balinese Hindu temples. South and East Lombok are more traditional Sasak areas as reflected in the stone Sasak villages in South Lombok. North Lombok is home to Mount Rinjani, considered to be sacred by many inhabitants of both Lombok and Bali, and is where you will find vestiges of an animist culture in daily rituals and practices. Although Lombok is referred to as "Bali 20 years ago," it is a culturally distinct and virtually undeveloped island that has numerous unique offerings for travelers.
Lombok is dominated by Mount Rinjani or "Gunung Rinjani." Located in North Lombok, Gunung Rinjani is the second highest peak in Indonesia and is known as one of the best climbs in the Pacific region. The climb is usually undertaken in three days with day one spent climbing up the mountain, day two spent climbing down to the crater and the crater lake, and day three going back. Generally, it is best to take more rather than less time in climbing Rinjania the views and scenery along the way are spectacular.
Also in North Lombok are the Gili Islands. Gili means island in the local language. The Gili Islands are comprised of three Islands off the Northwest point of Lombok: Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan. Most travelers head for Gili Trawangan which is the most developed of the three islands. The Gilis, a backpacker haven, are renowned for crystal clear waters, great snorkeling and an "anything goes" lifestyle. Senggigi Beach is in West Lombok. With wide beaches, a dramatic mountainous coast line and views across the Lombok Straits to Bali, Senggigi is a well-established tourist destination with a variety of hotels, restaurants, and essential infrastructure ranging from ATM machines to car rentals.
Kuta, in South Lombok, is the center of Lombok's surfing culture. Kuta Lombok is acclaimed for its beaches and surfing. Mostly undeveloped and relatively dry, South Lombok is completely unlike the Northern and Western parts of the Island both physically and culturally. Although diverse in its offerings, Lombok is a relatively small island. From Gunung Rinjani in the North to Kuta in the South is about a five to six hour drive. Senggigi is approximately equidistant between Gunung Rinjani and Kuta. The boat departure point for the crossing from mainland Lombok to the Gili Islands is about a 20 minute drive from Sengigi. You can also get to the Gili Islands from Sengigi in about an hour by boat. It is about three hours from the Gili Islands to Gunung Rinjani and about seven hours to Kuta including the crossing time.