Discover the Beauty of South Lombok
The majority of Lombok’s population is Sasak. No one really seems to know for sure where the Sasak people originate from – some believe from India due to their darker complexions and curlier hair. However, many believe that there was an influx of immigrants to Lombok from Java sometime in the 14th century following the collapse of the Hindu Majapahit when the Islam spread eastwards from Sumatra to Java. Most Sasak today practice their own local interpretation of Islam that has elements of Hinduism and indigenous Wetu Telu beliefs mixed in. Almost ironically Islam was introduced to Lombok through the spice trade by the Bugis’ traders from Makassar when the Hindu Majapahit was controlling most of Indonesia.
The Dutch arrived and colonized the eastern part of Lombok in the 17th century, leaving the western part of the island to the Balinese until 1894, when the Dutch took over the entire island. However, while the Balinese ruled they put in a lot of effort to create another “Bali”, building numberless temples and water palaces and introducing their particular brand of Hinduism. Even today the most interesting tourist sites were built by the Balinese. Visitors to Mataram, Cakranegara, Ampenan and Senggigi in the western-most portion of Lombok may be forgiven if they think that Lombok and Bali are similar. However, when going into the interior the similarities end.
Of course by now Lombok as such has also been discovered by travelers, and is also known for pristine beaches, friendly people, great snorkeling and superb scuba diving for all levels of experience. The diverse underwater world around the southern part of Lombok offers relaxed diving and plentiful macro life. As the sea is fairly shallow, visibility is never crystal clear but this doesn’t affect the caliber of the dive sites. The reefs are full of bright soft corals and colorful crinoids, which harbor an amazing variety of rare marine life, including ghost pipe fish, leaf fish, and pygmy seahorses. The dive sites reflect a good cross-section of what Indonesia has to offer, and invite to “dive in” to be fascinated by turtles, white tip reef sharks, cuttlefish, moray eels and many more. South Lombok offers even the widely traveled and experienced scuba diver a surprising and breathtaking experience, but is also loads of fun for non-diving partners, as well as families with children.
In general scuba diving in South Lombok is more based upon the individual experiences at exclusive, new dive sites, versus the “mass diving” offered at other dive sites around Lombok and Bali. In this region the scuba diver can still find and organize special day trips with the chance to go exploring in undiscovered waters and find untouched and amazing dive sites. Here one can truly find a unique underwater experience with a fascinating multitude of underwater species, and it’s a highlight for photographers and all scuba diving enthusiasts!