The province of West Nusa Tenggara is a province that includes the western portion of the Lesser Sunda Islands, except for Bali. The largest islands here are Lombok, where the provincial capital Mataram is located, and Sumbawa. A United Nationals Development Programme classified this province as the least-developed province in the country.
West Nusa Tenggara lies on the Wallace Line, which separates the flora and fauna of Western and Eastern Indonesia. The areas in the north are very different from that in the south. The north is covered in mountains topped with towering trees and flowering shrubs. The south is dry and blanketed with savannas and dry shrubs. Further east, large Asian mammals are replaced by parrots, cockatoos, lizards and marsupials.
The province is well-known for its white sand beaches and tenun ikat, a hand-woven textile.
Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, though separated and different from Bali, has always been compared to the latter, superficially. But while there are Hindu Balinese communities in Lombok, the area remains to be a domain of local Sassaks, who are Muslims, which implies certain differences in art and culture.
Lombok is dominated at the north-central area by Indonesia’s highest volcano, Mount Rinjani. There are agricultural areas at the foot of the mountains, thanks to abundant rain. The rest of the region however is largely dry and barren.
Lombok’s capital Mataram serves as transport connection to the more popular places in Lombok. Visitors of prefer to go to picturesque Senggigi at the west coast as the beach has fine resort hotels and lots of restaurants and bars. Surfers prefer the waves in Gili Islands, north of Senggigi.
Lombok is famous for its ikat cloth, but as it is expensive, many tourists favour cheaper alternatives.
Lombok’s capital city Mataram consists of 4 towns that serve different functions: Mataram (the administrative centre), Cakranegara (the commercial hub), Amperan (the port), and Bertais-Sweta (the transport connection). Mataram, which is home to Chinese and Balinese communities, is not a very touristic place. But its main square hosts art exhibits, dance performances, and puppet shows. It has Lombok’s biggest temple, Pura Meru. The temple was built in Cakranegara in 1720, in honour of the Hindu Trinity. It has three courtyards and three multi-tiered roofed shrines.
Along Mataram’s lovely tree-lined avenues are several public buildings and shopping centres. Amperan has old buildings and local restaurants.
Central Lombok is the heartland of Lombok. The towering Mount Rinjani dominates the north while coastal hills overlook the south. The foothills of the mountains are adorned with rice terraces.
Central Lombok has some small-scale tourist facilities found in the hillside towns of Sapit and Tetebatu, which offer fresh, cool air and breathtaking views. The more popular place in the region though is the white sand beach in Tanjung Aan, best known for surfing.
Some of Indonesia’s most sought after waves are found in West Lombok, which is a combination of lush mountains at the northwest and arid grounds at the southwest. The most popular and tourist-inclined spot here is Senggigi. It has white sand beaches backed by hills and mountains and lined with coconut palm trees. It has waves perfect for surfing. Its sunsets are simply breathtaking with a view of Bali’s holy mountain Gunung Agung.
Senggigi has luxury hotels, affordable guesthouses, and many bars and restaurants. Around the bay area are coconut groves, fishing villages, and deserted beaches. North of Senggigi is Gili Islands, a surfer’s paradise known for its flawless breaks.