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Motor bikes are available for hire at Sailfish café.
To climb such an impressive mountain is an unforgettable experience. Standing at 3726m, Mt Rinjani in the north of Lombok is the second highest volcano in Indonesia and the third highest peak in the country. This is a three day, two night trek to the peak or a two day, one night trek to the magnificent views from Senaru ridge at 2,650m
North Lombok has a significant number of Buddhist villages with their associated Vihara and meditation centres in the foothills and on the edge of the rice-fields just a few km from Medana.
You will also see many Balinese houses and temples in the vicinity.
Sarong weaving of Pringgasella and Sukarare
Lombok, Sumbawa and a multitude of small islands form the Province of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) with a population of over 4 million people. The provincial seat of government is the city of Mataram. With many flights per day direct to Bali, Surabaya and Jakarta, and also an hourly ferry service for cars, buses and trucks westward to Bali and eastward to Sumbawa, Lombok is the gateway to the eastern Lesser Sunda Isles of Indonesia There are also fast passenger boats crossing to Bali and internationally flights to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with Air Asia and Silk Air.
With an area of around 5,000 km2 and a population close to 3 million, Lombok is just a little smaller than Bali, with a shape like a rounded square with a promontory in the southwest corner. Separated from Bali by the deep trench of the Lombok Straits, there has never been a land bridge connecting Lombok to Bali, Java, Sumatra and the mainland of south-east Asia, even during the lowest sea levels of the great ice ages. The Straits form a bio-geographical division between the fauna of Indo-Malaya and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia, known as the Wallace Line after Alfred Russell Wallace. Wallace first noted this faunal discontinuity in June 1856 when he crossed these straits separating Bali and Lombok and was surprised to find that the bird communities were entirely different on the two islands. Tigers, rhinos and elephants have never trod on Lombok.
The north of the island is dominated by a mountain range of thirteen peaks, culminating in magnificent Mount Rinjani to the east, which peaks at 3,726 m (12,224 ft). The volcano remains active with a new cone rising from the central lake, and has recently been pulsing lava, ash and dust, providing a great scene to be viewed from the safety of the rim. Prior to this, the most recent eruption of Rinjani was in June-July, 1994. The volcano, and its sacred crater lake, Lake Segara Anak, are protected by a National Park established in 1997, and provide exhilarating trekking through the forests and to the open views beyond the tree line up to the caldera rim, or to the peak itself.
The central and southern part of the island is a fertile plain where corn, rice, coffee, and tobacco are grown, well irrigated by channels from springs and streams from the forests of the mountain range. The far south east of the island is the poorest, relying on seasonal rains to water the fields, but has magnificent beaches and surfing breaks providing the impetus for tourist development in that region.
The Sasak people make up the majority of the people on Lombok with over 80% of the population, followed by Balinese with 15%, predominantly in the west and north-west of the island with a view towards the revered Mount Agung on Bali, and minority populations of Arab, Chinese, Sumbawanese and Javanese. Sasak is also the language of the island and its traditions and songs, but Indonesian now provides a common language link to all but the eldest who never experienced school. To the newcomer the Sasak people can initially appear harsh and aggressive, but once you are a friend you will experience their cordiality and openness.
They are primarily an agricultural people, but also engage in hunting, fishing, and making handicrafts. Some villages are highly skilled in weaving, woodwork and pottery making. Many of these products are sold to tourists or exported to Western nations. The moral and ethical standards of the Sasak people are called ‘tindih’. They attempt to protect their high standards of solid friendships and proper etiquette within the family system, respecting their elders and observing good manners when visiting other homes. In seeking a mate, many Sasak follow the custom of ‘kawin-lari’, a kind of elopement where a woman is willingly abducted and hidden. The man then initiates marriage negotiations with the woman's family. An official wedding ceremony follows shortly after the negotiations, and very often provides a colourful and musical spectacle as the procession moves from one village to the next.
The majority of Sasak are Muslims, and a large number perform the expensive obligation of Haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. Many will save money for several decades or sell farmland in order to afford this journey. Upon their return these pilgrims are honoured in their families and villages for the rest of their lives. By and large, the Sasak people still revere sacred places like the gravesites of popular religious leaders and Mount Rinjani where the god Anjani is considered ruler. Many Sasak also venerate the spirits of their ancestors and the spirits who live in the forests, mountains and rivers.
For the tourist, the cultural mix and traditional lifestyle of everyday people encountered on the island is an attraction in itself. Add to that a wide range of accommodation choices from four star luxury hotels in Senggigi and even Gili Trawangan nowadays, to backpacker and simple home-stay bed & breakfast accommodation in the foothills of Rinjani. Along the Senggigi strip, there is a wide range of restaurant and food styles available to suit every palate and pocket. To get a better feel for modern Lombok, visit Mataram and the commercial centre of Cakranegara with banks, shopping malls, gold shops and traditional markets all humming with activity.
Transport is readily available in many forms: inter-island air conditioned buses leave on regular schedules; motorcycle taxis, called ojek, will take you anywhere; pony carts, called Cidomo, are a favourite with village ladies returning laden with fish and vegetables from the markets; and there are metered air conditioned taxis with well mannered drivers to take you in comfort around the island at very moderate prices.
For the active, a trek up Rinjani, at least to the caldera ridge of Senaru with magnificent views into the lake and the active cone, and back across to Bali, cannot be beaten. SCUBA diving and snorkeling on the Gilis and elsewhere is well organised by many competent dive shops with multilingual instructors, and of course there are some great surfing spots along the south coast when the moon is right. Lombok also boasts two high quality 18-hole golf courses, and tennis courts are readily available.
Finally it is the general ambience, laid-back atmosphere and unspoiled natural scenery that leave a lasting impression on the visitor who will feel a need to return.