North Lombok is perhaps one of the most dramatically beautiful locations you could imagine for getting away from it all. As you are driven along the coast from the airport, you are surrounded on one side by picture-book vistas of pristine bays lined with traditional Sasak fishing boats, and by a brooding, jungle-covered, active volcano on the other. This villa is far from civilization and, as a result, deeply relaxing.
The four-bedroom, Villa Anandita is huge, occupying 1.5 hectares of palm-tree-jewelled, absolute beachfront land which was once a coconut plantation. Every few metres mature palms sway in the breeze, perfect stand-ins for extra fielders in an undermanned game of rounders or softball: hit a tree on the full and you’re out! The main living pavilions are arranged around a 26m, jungle-style swimming pool, complete with Jacuzzi, waterfall and lots of lovely natural bends and curves, while the four, bedroom pavilions are set well apart from each other, deep within the gorgeous gardens.
The villa has a wonderful team of staff who are actively encouraged to ‘get stuck in’ with the guests. They will happily drop everything to take you kayaking out beyond the reef, or even make up numbers for a game of volleyball. Everything for your entertainment is here, from snorkelling equipment, a fleet of bicycles, board games DVDs, satellite TV to a billiard table. Meals can be ordered from the menu, or the staff will be happy to take care of your grocery shopping if you’d rather self-cater (all food is on guest account).
But even with this great choice of things to do, the real focus at Villa Anandita is the spectacular Sira beach - ideal for long lazy walks with lots of pretty shells to be combed from the powdery white sands. From the garden looking out to the horizon, or from the sea looking back to the mountains, you would be hard pressed to find a better looking stretch of sand anywhere else on Earth.
|Size||Sleeps up to 8, 4 bedrooms|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages|
|Notes||No pets allowed, No smoking at this property|
|Luxuries||Private indoor pool|
|Pool||Private indoor pool|
|General||Air conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Rooms||4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms of which 4 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||Double beds (4)|
|Outdoors||Private indoor pool|
|Access||Suitable for people with restricted mobility, Not suitable for wheelchair users|
Lombok, Bali's beautiful next-door neighbour, rarely receives the attention she deserves. Although there are only 35km of sea between these two islands, the physical and cultural distinctions are considerable. Towering mountains, mighty waterfalls, pristine white-sand beaches, magnificent coral reefs, pearl encrusted shores, a unique Sasak culture and tranquillity are among Lombok's many charms.
In general, Lombok entices the more adventurous travellers who have, perhaps, already explored Bali and are hungry to journey further afield. The island is also a haven for those in search of peace and quiet. A visit to Lombok is an opportunity to explore a natural paradise, trek the Rinjani National Park, enjoy some fantastic diving and snorkelling, surf some of the best waves in Indonesia, and encounter a traditional, rural way of life exposing a fascinating integration of Muslim and Hindu cultures. Visitors are welcomed at the splendid Sasak festivals and Hindu ceremonies, and the island produces some remarkable handicrafts. In the tiny villages artisans can be seen at work creating textiles, baskets and pots.
Predictions in the early '90s that Lombok was following fast on the heels of Bali in terms of tourism were never actually realised. Likewise it is a misconception to view Lombok as the Bali of 20 years ago, comparisons are inevitable but contrasts are marked and the two islands differ in almost every respect.
The beaches in Lombok are beautiful. The roller-coaster road hugs the dramatic coastline around cool coconut groves, sweeping bays and towering headlands. Although there are a few luxury hotels and villas in the area north of Senggigi, huge expanses of Lombok's shores are totally undeveloped with just a few small villages dotted inland. Many of the beaches are festooned with candy-coloured jukung. These traditional canoe-shaped fishing vessels are crafted from a single hollowed out tree trunk, with bamboo outriggers and a distinctive prow decorated and shaped like a marlin's head. Some of the island's most spectacular coastal scenery can be found on the southern shores. Windswept sandy beaches and picturesque bays are separated by headlands and awesome rocky outcrops. The glorious crescent-shaped beaches of Lombok's Kuta (often confused with Bali's Kuta) and Tanjung Aan are famous for their surf breaks, and when the tide is out, the bays turn into shallow pools of turquoise water.
In October 2011, Lombok's long awaited Bandara International Airport opened near the township of Praya, about 40km south of Lombok's capital, Mataram, and approximately a two-hour drive from the north-west of the island, which is home to most of Lombok's luxury private villas. Although this new airport currently (Jan 2013) only offers international flights from Singapore (Silkair) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Air Asia), regular connecting flights from Bali's Denpasar Airport take only 25 minutes.
The relatively unknown area around the village of Tanjung on the north-west coast of Lombok is gradually evolving into the island's main villa location, with new properties now springing up (around Sira Beach in particular), albeit slowly. Tanjung itself is an attractive market village with stalls overflowing with indigenous produce, including blocks of locally harvested tobacco.
Located right beside Sira Beach is the Lombok Golf Kosaido Country Club, a scenic 18-hole championship course, which challenges golfers of all levels and is open to the public. The Oberoi Lombok Hotel and Hotel Tugu Lombok (an atmospheric, antique chic hotel with a restaurant and bar open to outside guests) are perhaps Tanjung's best known residents.
The tiny port of Bangsal (4km) is a stepping off point for the Gilis whilst Teluk Nara (6km) is where the high speed ferries from Bali arrive. Senggigi, 23 kilometres south, is the most developed tourist area on Lombok (one of the few spots on the main island with any nightlife), yet still pretty quiet and laid-back. Finally, the Rinjani National Park (59km) is full of untamed jungle, wildlife, waterfalls and a volcanic peak just waiting to be scaled.