The few travelers in Indonesia who dare to venture beyond Bali usually pick Lombok Island as the most logical destination. It is just a short ferry ride away, and it is the gateway to the dubious paradise of the three Gilis, tiny islands filled to the brim with tourist infrastructure. Most visitors here stick to the two resort areas, Senggigi and Kuta, while a few brave souls climb Mt. Rinjani or at least visit the waterfalls on its northern slopes. Other areas remain predominantly undiscovered. Yet, there is much more to see on this relatively small island, and the south-east part harbors some of the most unusual attractions. Aside from its own unique style of woodcarving, this region has salt-processing fields, pink beaches, and a fish market specializing in sharks.
"Pantai" means "beach" in Indonesian. The local Sasaks apparently did not bother to translate the adjective. After all, this is everything you need to know: it is a beach, and it is somewhat pink. The sand here includes fragments of pulverized coral, hence the uncommon hue. It may not be a particularly rare phenomenon, but Pantai Pink is among the most easily accessible such beaches in Indonesia. Plus, there are a lot of them, actually, all on the same peninsula. Pantai Pink is the most developed of the lot. Nearby Pantai Segui has the same color, with no people. The loveliest pink beaches are on Gili Sunut, another tiny islet that used to house a fishing community but has recently been bought out by a company intending to build a resort. The only way to reach Gili Sunut would be a hired boat. In all likelihood, you will pass the islet anyway if you come to Pantai Pink by sea. The peninsular beaches are connected to the rest of Lombok Island by dirt roads, suitable for a motorbike. There is no public transport.
Not exactly a tourist attraction, and in no way different from the similar structures all over Indonesia, salt evaporation ponds can nevertheless be quite spectacular. Photographers especially will like the reflections in the still, mirror-like brine. To have an authentic experience, the best is to visit in the dry season - May through October. Unlike in Vietnam, the workers here use simple baskets to carry the salt, which makes the scene even more photogenic. The salt ponds stretch for a few kilometers along the road from the main turn-off in Keruak village to the pink beaches.
Tanjung Luar means "outer cape", and it is about as far southeast as you can go in Lombok Island. This fishing village is unique in one aspect: the typical morning market fills the shore not only with the usual marine life of every species, size and color but specifically, with dozens of sharks. A large shark migration route passes just south of the peninsula here, and the fishermen have taken advantage of it. Early at dawn, schooners and trimarans moor at the beach in Tanjung Luar and unload the night's catch: bull sharks, tiger sharks, threshers, even a few hammerheads, despite the national law protecting them. The sharks are measured, weighed, dismembered, and purchased by tradesmen on the spot. Regular attempts of various ecologists to sound the alarm have been futile. For a traveler, the sight may be unsettling, but photogenic and thought-provoking. Again, there is no public transportation and no accommodation, as this spot so far remains undiscovered by tourists, just like pink beaches.
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