In pursuit of an endless summer
I AM someone who never wants to admit summer has ended for another year.
So as severe weather warnings were rolling into Perth, I jumped at the chance for a quick getaway to a tropical island paradise.
While Bali is usually my go-to for a quick dose of warmth and relaxation, this time I thought I would try somewhere new in Indonesia: Lombok.
The thought had never really crossed my mind before, with the idea of a stopover making the trip at least 6.5 hours long nowhere near as appealing as the 3.5-hour flight to Bali.
But that’s where AirAsia has stepped in, introducing direct flights from Perth to Lombok four times a week.
Starting this trip, I was told it was a quieter destination, a place you could compare to what Bali was like 20 to 30 years ago.
That still didn’t prepare me for how quiet it would be, unlike the hustle and bustle of Bali.
One of the main attractions is exploring the Gili Islands, the three small islands between Lombok and Bali. This can be done by a 10-minute speed boat ride or a 45-minute traditional boat trip.
If I could recommend one thing to do, it would be to visit the underwater sculptures just off the shore of Gili Meno because they have to be seen to be believed.
There are 48 life-size human sculptures formed in a circle standing together and curled up on the sea floor.
And with an abundance of tropical fish and even turtles just an arm’s length away, it was all the more breathtaking.
With crystal clear waters wherever you go, these types of experiences are endless and can be experienced in a variety of ways, such as stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, kayaking and seawalking like an astronaut in the ocean.
Another highlight of the Gili Islands is there is no motorised transport: no cars, no scooters, no motorbikes.
To get around the islands, you can either walk, hire a bicycle or jump in a horse and cart.
The message from the locals is Lombok is open for business. The hope this new direct flight will boost tourism for the island devastated by earthquakes last year is very evident.
“We need to keep the local economy running, especially in this time where we are getting things going again,” our tour guide said.
“So come to Lombok and enjoy the beauty of this island, the vibrant culture and handmade crafts.”
And when it takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to get there – 10 minutes less than Bali – more people can take up the opportunity with AirAsia's direct flights.
This reporter flew as a guest of AirAsia and Ministry of Tourism Republic Indonesia