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Serenity amid encroaching tourism: Lomboks Sire Beach

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Serenity amid encroaching tourism: Lombok’s Sire Beach

The beach is the poster destination for an idyllic beach holiday, but is far from becoming another touristy Kuta.

White sand, spanning for several kilometers, is flanked by hectares of coconut palms and sweeping views to the Gili Islands and Mount Rinjani on the other side.

The turquoise water, home to natural coral gardens, is sparkling and palm trees sway in the breeze.

Sire Beach is located just half an hour to the north of Senggigi village in Lombok.

It’s a good place to snorkel in itself, with boat trips from here to the smaller Gili Islands a mere 20 minutes away. It’s also a great place to be based to explore the quieter, northern coast of Lombok and the interior.

In general, Lombok, with its wonderful beaches and beautiful landscapes, is definitely a destination that is at the very least looking to become as popular as Bali in the coming years.

A new international airport has been built here and several airlines from Southeast Asia and Australia have added new flights to connect to the island - boosting its accessibility.

The island’s former sleepy village, Senggigi, where visitors can catch a fishing-boat to the Gili islands, has developed rapidly.

Nowadays it is a bustling tourist area comparable to Bali’s Seminyak, with high-end hotels and villas, boutiques and restaurants springing up here and there.

Sire Beach, while still retaining its secluded nature, is also gaining in popularity as more hotels establish themselves in the area.

Among them are The Oberoi and the newly built Lombok Lodge Suites, as well as the eclectic Tugu Hotel, the grounds of which are themed around the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic.

The hotel, which houses a gallery and various antiques, is well worth a visit for the beautiful gardens filled with Hindu statues and temples.

Amid these developments, the local Sasak people still make up the majority of Lombok’s 3.5 million inhabitants. Although closely related to the Balinese, the majority of Lombok embraces Islam.

Lombok is home to a notable non-orthodox Muslim group called the Wetu Telu, meaning “three prayers". This means they pray only three times a day, as opposed to the traditional five and also still encompass ancient Hindu and Pagan beliefs. A small group called Boda still practice ancient Sasak beliefs.

Hinduism is a minority religion on the island and has been imported by Balinese settling there, but the island actually has a rich Hindu past, and all the major Hindu holidays are still celebrated on Lombok today.

The Nagarakertagama is a Hindu poem written on a palm leaf in the 14th century, which was discovered in Lombok by a Dutch historian in 1894.

Once translated, the poem gave great insights into the Hindu past of Lombok as part of the Majapahit Kingdom, which was one of the greatest empires of the region lasting from 1293 to around 1500, and was one of the most important Hindu empires in history.

According to a booklet printed by Hotel Tugu, Lombok was an intrinsic part of this kingdom but much of this has been forgotten or wiped out through the years.

Although Lombok is often hailed as the new Bali, there are many things that set it apart both ecologically and culturally. Between Bali and Lombok lies the Wallace Line, named after the naturalist Sir Alfred Russell Wallace.

The line signifies differences in the flora and fauna between Bali and Lombok. While Bali seems to fall more into the Indo – Malaysia category, Lombok bears more resemblance to Australasia.

Therefore, when you visit Lombok, although it looks like a very similar landscape to Bali, there are vast differences in the species that inhabit the island.

 

How to get there

The drive to Sire Beach is around two hours from the airport and you can either go up the coast road where you will see miles of white sand beaches, punctuated by enclaves of development, or through the forest. This road is windy but surrounded by thick rainforests and miles of lush green paddy fields. Both roads are stunning and it is worth trying to take each when heading up and down the coast.

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Last changed: Fri Jun 02, 2017 at 6:02 pm

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