Tourism is an important source of income on Lombok. The most developed tourism area of the island is on the west coast of the island and is centered about the township of Senggigi. The immediate surrounds of the township contain the most developed tourism facilities. The west coast coastal tourism strip is spread along a 30 kilometres (19 miles) strip following the coastal road north from Mataram and the old airport at Ampenan. The principal tourism area extends to Tanjung in the northwest at the foot of Mount Rinjani and includes the Sire and Medana Peninsulas and the highly popular Gili Islands lying immediately offshore. These three small islands are most commonly accessed by boat from Bangsal near Pemenang, Teluk Nare a little to the south, or from further south at Senggigi and Mangsit beach. Many hotels and resorts offer accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious. Recently direct fast boat services have been running from Bali making a direct connection to the Gili islands. Although rapidly changing in character, the Gili islands still provide both a lay-back backpacker’s retreat and a high-class resort destination.
Other tourist destinations include Mount Rinjani, Gili Bidara, Gili Lawang, Narmada Park and Mayura Park and Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali). Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, is popular for its numerous and diverse scuba diving locations.
The Kuta area is also famous for its largely deserted, white sand beaches. The Smalltown is rapidly developing since the opening of the International airport in Praya. Increasing amounts of surfers from around the globe come here seeking out perfect surf and the slow and rustic feel of Lombok. South Lombok surfing is considered some of the best in the world. Large polar lows push up through the Indian Ocean directing long range, high period swell from as far south as Heard Island from late March through to September or later. This coincided with the dry season and South-East trade winds that blow like clockwork. Lombok is famous for its diversity of breaks, which includes world-renowned Desert Point at Banko Banko in the southwest of the island.
The northern west coast near Tanjung has many new upmarket hotel and villa developments centered about the Sire and Medana peninsular nearby to the Gili islands and a new boating marina at Medana Bay. These new developments complement the already existing five-star resorts and a large golf course already established there.
The island is to the immediate east of the Lombok Strait which marks the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia; this distinction, known as the “Wallace Line” takes its name from Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Wallace was the first person to comment on the division between the two regions, as well as on the abrupt boundary between the two biomes.
To the east of Lombok lies the Alas Strait, a narrow body of water separating the island of Lombok from the nearby island of Sumbawa.
The island’s topography is dominated by the centrally-located stratovolcano Mount Rinjani, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, which rises to 3,726 metres (12,224 ft), making Lombok the 8th-highest island. The most recent eruption of Rinjani occurred in September 2016 at Gunung Barujari. In a 2010 eruption, ash was reported as rising 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) into the atmosphere from the Barujari cone in Rinjani’s caldera lake of Segara Anak. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, raising its temperature, while ash fall damaged crops on the slopes of Rinjani. The volcano and its crater lake, Segara Anak (child of the sea), are protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park established in 1997. Recent evidence indicates an ancient volcano, Mount Samalas, of which now only a caldera remains, was the source of the 1257 Samalas eruption, one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, which caused worldwide changes in weather.
The highlands of Lombok are forest-clad and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated. Rice, soybeans, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cacao, cloves, cassava, corn, coconuts, copra, bananas and vanilla are the major crops grown in the fertile soils of the island. The southern part of the island is fertile but drier, especially toward the southern coastline.