Senggigi is maybe Lombok’s equivalent to Bali’s Kuta Beach, but is in many ways totally different. It’s far more quiet and peaceful, the nightlife here is also much more limited. The place is located north of Mataram and not far from the airport, many tourists prefer to stay here the first days before they explore the rest of the island, but you can also use Senggigi as your permanent base. Senggigi is clearly the most developed tourist area on Lombok, but stretches over a wide area and is still not overdeveloped.
There are some large, expensive hotels here, but you can also find accommodation of a more simple standard. The number of restaurants have increased in the last few years, but there is still some time before Lombok can compete with Bali. It is recommended to enjoy the sunset from a restaurant by the beach, the nightlife is not as varied as on Bali, but there are some pubs and nightclubs with live music.
To explore the area outside Senggigi it is a good idea to rent a car with or without a driver. Taxi is also cheap, but don’t trust them to come back to pick you up in remote areas, if they get a better deal they tend to “forget” you. If you visit remote areas keep the car the whole day, that can save you a lot of trouble getting back to the hotel. Motorbikes are dangerous, a lot of tourists have accidents here every year, make sure your travel insurance is valid and drive at your own risk.
Except for some Hindu temples and the beach there are not that many attractions here, but as a base for exploring Lombok and for rest and recreation it is an excellent place. Senggigi Beach is a few kilometer long, and good for swimming and snorkeling. It’s possible to arrange diving trips to the Gili islands or a trek to the top of Gunung Rinjani from here, but to a much higher price than you have to pay if you go on your own.
The view towards Bali and Gunung Agung while hundreds of colorful fishing vessels come home early in the morning is an unforgettable sight, and the sunsets are as beautiful as sunsets come. North of Senggigi is also a beautiful coastal area with a few hotels and lovely view towards the Gili islands and Bali. The tourism here has gone downhill since 1998, after the riots following the Asia crisis and the political turmoil in Indonesia. The terrorist attacks in New York 11th September 2001 and the Bali bombing in 2002 didn’t help either. But people do usually forget unpleasant things quite quickly and now starts to return to Lombok. Still it should be easy to get a hotel room here without ordering in advance, at least in the low season.