Scuba diving in Lombok
Diving in Lombok offers a fantastic range of very popular sites, many of which are found surrounding the Gili Islands. Scuba diving around Lombok, you will be in the exact location of the 'Wallace Line'. This symbolic line marks the biogeographical division between the Indomalayan and Australasia ecozone, and lies just west of the island in Lombok Strait.
Lombok Island is found in the West Nusa Tenggara Province of Indonesia, and forms part of the Lesser Sunda archipelagic islands. Itís capital, and largest city, is Mataram. Just to the west, Lombok Strait forms the narrow passage of sea that separates Bali, while the Alas Strait separates Sumbawa to the east. This modest island covers a total area of a little over 4500 km2, and is home to the second highest volcano in Indonesia. Mount Rinjani is a stratovolcano situated centrally on Lombok Island. It rises to over 12 200 feet (3726 m) above sea level, and recently erupted in 2010, hurling ash up to 2 km into the atmosphere.
Marine life in Lombok
Lombok scuba diving is extremely varied thanks to its close proximity to the 'Wallace Line'. Here, you can be scuba diving in two very separate, but equally prolific, ecosystems in a single day. Among some of the species found in this area are oceanic whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, manta rays, Mola mola, ribbon eels, nudibranchs, large schools of barracuda and giant trevallies.
Best dive sites in Lombok
The Gili Islands are a group of 3 islands just to the north west of Lombok Island. Here, the conditions are generally very calm, making them an ideal location to learn to dive in. Currents are very gentle and visibility is usually in excess of 65 feet (20 m). Extensive conservation programs are run on the Gili Islands, aiming to provide better protection to the turtle species who use the nearby shores for breeding. Their fantastic efforts now mean that green turtle sightings are frequent, which is important because green turtles are the most endangered of all the sea turtle species. The best dive sites in the Gili Islands are Shark point and Deep Turbo.
Shark point is located to the east of Gili Trawangan, the largest of the three Gili Islands. Reachable from the shore, this site features gentle slopes that bottom out at around 80 feet (24 m). Soft corals line the slopes, inhabited by many smaller creatures, such as ghost pipefish and various species of octopus. The occasional currents on this site encourages the presence of many large species as well, from oceanic whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, green sea turtles, Napoleon wrasse and sometimes even manta rays and grey reef sharks. Please note that at shallow depths, it is not uncommon for there to a strong surge.
Deep Turbo is a very big site located just off the northeast tip of Gili Trawangan, facing open ocean. The bed is mostly sandy, featuring large coral mounds that produce interesting topography. There are many overhangs, ledges and small caves, providing shelter for several species including the occasional big snapper. Being on the edge of open ocean, whale sharks sometimes make a very welcome appearance.
Best time to dive in Lombok
The best season to go scuba diving in Lombok is between the months of May and September, during the regions dry season. Although, the tropical climate does permit suitable conditions for diving all year around. The busiest times in Lombok are from May until August. Heavy rains between December and January can cause the visibility to drop. However, Lombok does have a slightly drier climate than Bali, making it a good alternative scuba diving spot during the rainy season (that lasts from October until April). Water temperatures remain fairly steady throughout the year, with lows of 79 Fahrenheit (26C) towards the end of rainy season and highs of 86 Fahrenheit (30C) during dry season. This means most people are happy scuba diving in a 3 mm wetsuit, although ultimately you must choose whatever you feel most comfortable in.
Experience level for diving Lombok
Lombok Island offers dive sites for all levels of divers, including current non-divers. The Gili Islands' calm conditions mean that it's an ideal location for people to be introduced to the sport of scuba diving.
Although mostly calm, some sites are subject to fairly strong currents, such as Deep Turbo. Occasionally currents can be unpredictable, shifting direction even during a dive. These types of site are generally best suited for an intermediate or advanced diver. On such dive sites, it is particularly important to take with you an SMB and a finger spool to ensure that your ascent is clearly marked, especially if you ascend in a slightly unplanned location.
How do I get to Lombok
Indonesian Liveaboards that take you scuba diving in Lombok are now very easy to reach thanks to the recent improvements in air travel infrastructure on the island. Lombok now has its own international airport that receives flights from Singapore 3 times a week. This is ideal for those needing to travel on long-haul flights to reach Indonesia, especially from Europe, as Singapore is very often where connecting flights are made. From the airport, it is a very short drive to the main port of Lombok, where you can embark on your dive trip.