Most roads on Lombok are paved and in many places the unpaved roads are being improved all the time. Still there are three areas in along the southern coast - with the best view over the sea - where the roads are too bad for a normal car or bemo. Here you will for sure need a four-wheel-drive jeep - locally named 'hardtop', or at least a Kijang (kind of small van) which is still in good condition, and a driver which knows what he's doing. The routes in this story can only be done on foot or by a strong truck during the wet season.
Sepi and Environment
The first part of the bumpy route starts in Sekotong Tengah, southwest of Lembar, from where a partially paved, ten kilometer long road runs towards Sepi in the south. The road runs through arid hills, on which steep terraces are built. Just before Sepi, a steel descend like this runs straight to the sea; it's the first place where you have the panoramic views.
In Sepi, a desperate fishery village, you can rent a canoe with motor for a visit to the white beaches near Blongas, across the bay. It should be a good snorkeling spot, because the coral has not been blown away by explosives which are often used for fishing.
Every once in a while a bemo succeeds to reach Sepi, but going any further is not possible if the road isn't paved or at least improved. From Sepi you will probably only see traditional houses, with a red paned roof every once in a while, outside a mosque. During the dry season the road is dusty.
'Stone of Warship'
Pengantap is located eight kilometers to the east, inland on a peninsula. Somewhere in this area you will also find one of the oldest archeological artifacts of Lombok, a menhir of 1,50 meters which is said to be erected about 300 years ago. The stone, named Batu Pujaan ('stone of warship'), maintains it's mystical powers; still rituals are held which are related with birth, the first time the child's hair is cut, circumcision, marriages and deaths. People also go to the rock for meditation and to prepare traditional medication and magic mixes. It is said that once a year, sjaman meet here to talk about their secrets of profession.
About a kilometer past Pengantap you can drive or walk through the fields to the seaside for a nice view, all the way to Selong Blanak. A small low island, about 250 meters off shore, offers good diving possibilities, that is when you can get the gear. Just past the point of view the road turns inland over a steep hill which, again, gives a very nice view. What follows is a boring, less bumpy 18 km ride to Selong Blanak, through hilly areas with only a few villages.
We didn't see a single car from Sepi to the village opf Batu Jangkin (markets on Wednesdays). Furthermore a paved road runs straight to the sea. The small fishery settlement Selong Blanak (market on Sundays) is located just before a white sandbeach which runs along the giant bay. The water has different colors, from blue to green. There are several food-stalls.
Kuta and Environment
The short trip between Kuta and Mawun probably offers the best view at the sea of entire Lombok. It's faster to go to Mawun over the eleven-kilometer road from Pengembur, but only the ten-kilometer of unpaved road just inland offers the different views. The first part of the road west of Kuta is paved. The road runs through the lowlands before ascending on the steep hill, with a beautiful view over the beaches of Kuta and Tanjung Aan.
Next the road goes a little inland, the paving stops and the road conditions worsens.You will pass a limestone cliff which has numerous caves along three sides. After a hill there is an oasis with palm trees and rice fields which are fed by creeks. Just ahead a two km long sideroad leads to Are Goling with a beautiful beach. Just before is Gil Nusa which can be reached on foot when it's low tide.
A marine biologist which works here tells that the best time for snorkeling is between September and April. The rest of the time, big waves make it very difficult to snorkel here. This beach and that near Mawun - white, curvy and as beautiful as it can be - are already bought by speculators. They have constructed a road to Tampa, a small bay with beach about two kilometers west of Mawun.
The Southeastern Peninsula
The beaches and the nature along the southern coast of the southeastern peninsula are equal to those near Kuta and Mawun. From Ekas there is a very bad road of six kilometers to the southern coast of the peninsula. The last stretch is covered in brown dust.
The beaches are home to the rich men from Jakarta; pieces of land are bought for US$20,000 per hectare. The prices near Senggigi is ten times as much, if anyone wants to buy it. The coast consists of a number of moon-shaped bays, each with a white beach. The small bays are separated from each other by low cliffs and capes which offer a view over the bays and the reef about 100 meters offshore.
Near the first beach is an island of which the rocks raise straight up from the sea: Gili Anak Ewok. You can walk to is from Ekas; take enough water with you. About halfway Ekas and Jerowari, a road of about 20 kilometers takes you to Tanjung Ringgit. The trip takes about an hour by jeep. Tanjung Ringgit can also be reaches from Tanjung Luar by boat.
Caves of the Spirits
Tanjung Ringgit is said to be a magical place. It should be the home of the 'spiritual caves', and the Wetu Telu leader of Bayan, in the north of Lombok (as far away from Tanjung Ringgit as possible), says there is a mystical connection between his area and the tip of this peninsula.