So you may have heard of Bali, or been there yourself a tropical and stunning island in Indonesia, with good vibes popular with many backpackers & tourists.
However, that’s the exact problem due to such beauty & cool island vibes, Bali has become over run with tourists, prices have accelerated and it just doesn’t feel like the tranquil paradise it once was. So what’s the solution?? Enter the neighbouring island Mandalika in Lombok, a short ferry or 30 min drive from Lombok airport.
This area has been dubbed the next “Bali” and a hidden gem of Indonesia. Once a surfers best kept secret, Mandalika is similar to Bali in terms of stunning never ending beaches, exquisite scenery and rolling lush hills but not over commercialised and a hell of alot cheaper!
Mandalika already has some great facilities from luxurious resorts to spas & even golf courses. As an emerging destination and big development plans backed by the Indonesian government this is the perfect place to explore now!
At the moment many couples on honeymoons have found refuge in the peace of Mandalika on Lombok Island. However, the government plans on creating a “new Bali” a vibrant island region with fantastic and unique bars, restaurants and hotels.
At the moment, there is still plenty of attractions to explore though, apart from the peaceful nature, there is a range of bustling bars, nightclub, a host of thrilling water parks and even racing circuits! In 2012, Mandalika will host the Moto GP on it’s fantastic race courses. Spacing on the 1,250 hectare paradise there is enchanting spots to be discovered all over and even some relaxing spa areas.
Is Mandalika the new Bali?
Probably, YES! Indonesia is the third fastest growing economy in Asia and the fastest within South East Asia! The government has big plans to boost tourism even further with it’s “10 New Balis Development” involving 10 islands including Lombok which with have large investments injected into their development, tailored towards tourism.
With 17,000 islands to choose from, these ten new Balis have been carefully chosen. There has been many government initiatives also looking at attracts direct foreign investment, making the entire process easier!
So if your looking for a place to purchase a holiday home or even an investment this could be the ideal spot.
Things to do in Mandlika:
Perfectly located close to some of Lomboks most fantastic beaches, Mandalika is the place to be. Popular mesmerising beaches nearby include, Kuta, Tanjung, Aan, Gerpuk, Serenting and even Seger Beach.
For the most spectacular panoramic views head to the top Merese Hill and Batu Paying Beach. For peace & quiet head to Serenting Beach. For surfing Gerupuk Beach and Ubrug Beach, (Ubrug beach has calmer waves and finer sands)
Head to Seger Beach during the annual Bau Nyale Festival: Held on the last week of February, this is a cultural experience not to missed! With surfing competitions, a food market and even a photography contest.
In addition, the Nyale sea worms appear of which attract many people to catch rare glimpses of these unique creatures. It is said, in ancient tradition that if you catch these one creatures, you will experience good luck for eternity.
Seger beach is also a great all round beach, the perfect blend between scenic nature and a cultural hotspot. Another popular attraction here is, Princess Mandalika, a statue of local Lombok legend.
Mandalika Waterparks/Water Sports:
For the most amazing host of water activities head to Kuta Beach. At Gerupuk Beach you can experience, swimming, sea fishing and of course surfing.
Hiking in Mandalika:
For truly breath taking views & unbelievable vista, hike up Merese Hill for a challenging yet oh so worth trail! Sunsets are ideal. If you would like it even quieter try the hike at 4.00am, and make it for an unbelievable sunrise with magical views over the Indian Ocean, creating an unforgettable moment.
Other Popular Attractions:
National Museum of NTB
Ratu Bolong Temple
Best Places to eat?
If you really want to immerse yourself in some culture, then you have to try the food of the Sasak tribe. The indigenous Lombok people which make up a whopping 85% of the entire islands, population! A favourite dish of mine is the
Roasting sambal & the tasty grilled beef cubes on a skewer (satay rembiga). These are like the equivalent local delicacies of mie bakso and babi guling in Bali. Other even more authentic treats include Bebalung (Beef/mutton soup) and Sayur Nangka (Jackfruit curry)
Kuta Beach area is a hub of fantastic food vendors & restaurants. Kemangi Restaurant fuses together western & local Asia flavours for some uniquely taste bud tingling dishes.
For a truly healthy and extremely fresh option, take a stroll down to Kenza. The vibrant atmosphere and bamboo decor will make you want to stay for food and even some of their delicious superfood smoothes! Great instagrammable. Similar cafes here include the popular Café Fin and Terra with vegan & many plant-based options on offer.
If you fancy a venue, little less backpacker and more vacationista head down to Markisa Restaurant. Their char grilled octopus and tasty pasta dishes can all be enjoyed while overlooking stunning views from this rooftop restaurant.
If you’d like a similar vibe to here on another night try Hungry Bird, famous for it’s traditional Lombok Curry, a yellow curry with chicken, vegetables & coconut milk! Another great spot is Ayam Taliwang, which offers great seasoned chicken blended with a mixture of traditional Lombok spices.
Continue on your evening & wash that tasty cuisine down with a few Cocktails! Blended with local herbs and tropical fruits from Kemangi’s cocktails.
Best Places to Stay in Mandalika:
Mandalika has a vast selection of accommodation options at really reasonable prices! For the opulent among you, the Novotel Lombok is nice spot located centrally in the city, so lots going on around. With traditional Sasak Style rooms and even a few private villas with pools, you won’t be disappointed at your stay here!
After checking in head up to the tropical gardens, which over look the turquoise bay of this beach front resort.
Another fantastic boutique style resort is Origin Lombok located just north of Kuta Beach. With pristine white decor throughout it stands out amongst the lush green tropics.
This is a great place to stay on your last day or two to just relax and recover by the pool, sipping on a cocktail of course!
For large groups, Villa Sorgas is a ideal venue, just between Tanjung Aan and Gerupuk Beach. This gorgeous villa nestled in the hillside offers perfect views of the sunrise & sunsets Lombok is famous for!
Another great pick is: Santika Mataram Hotel
Transport in Mandalika:
Once in Mandalika, most places you can walk to as everything is pretty close by. However, there is also the Public transport vehicle or “Bemo” which can take your all over Lombok. Other options, include, bicycle or renting a car or motorcycle ideal if exploring other parts of the island.
How to get to Mandalika?
Direct flights run often to Lombok International Airport. After just take a 30 min drive to the Kuta beach area of Mandalika. If you’ve been Bali before, you can easily take a ferry from
Padang Bai Harbour to Lembar Harbour in Lombok. Afterwards hop in a taxi or take the bus, it should take around 2-3hours to reach Mandalika. Or take a 30 minute flight from Bali.
Flying from Singapore or Malaysia? Singapore runs many direct flights to Lombok International Airport. Flights are also available from other major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta (2 hrs to Lombok) and Surabaya.
Overall, Mandalika is an epic nature sanctuary, the perfect place to get away from it all and in addition experience true Indonesian culture without as many bells, whistles & expense as places like Bali.
The Name “Mandalika” stems from a beautiful princess of Sasak Tribe. She was cursed with indecisiveness, and could not decide which prince to marry out of her many suitors. In the end she, dived into the sea rather then break one of the princes hearts.
Then it is said that the unique sea worms appealed and that is why many try to capture these during the festival.
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