North Lombok is a fairly new regency and was officially formed in 2008. The regency is home to 204,556 residents scattered across its five districts-Bayan, Gangga, Kayangan, Pemenang and Tanjung and includes the Gili Islands, 33 Villanges and 332 hamlets. North Lombok is reached by two main roads, both in good condition and each providing different scenic tours. The coastal road that runs from Ampenan to Senggigi and all the way up the west coast to the north provides stunning views of the many beautiful bays and beaches that line the west coast, as well as vistas over the Gili islands and Bali to the west. The road was re-constructed in 2010/2011 and is in very good condition, with rest areas along the way for sightseeing.
The alternative to the coast road is the Pusuk Pass a winding mountain road that starts at Gunung Sari and runs through the mountains inland, terminates at Pemenang in the north. The drive through the Pass provides wonderful views of valleys and gorges, with rivers running through the tropical forests and small villages dotted amongst the trees. This area is often called the "Monkey Forest" as families of grey monkeys live in the jungle and come down to the road to beg for food from passing motorists.
Bangsal is at the crossroads where the coastal road meets the Pusuk Pass, with the main road (Jalan Raya) continuing north, all the way around the island to the east coast. Bangsal is a pretty village with a large Balinese Hindu population, surrounded by rice fields, temples, and close the ocean and the mountains. there are a few small home-stay, including the attractive and Bangsal makes a good base for exploring the north.
The road to the west only runs about 1 km to Bangsal Harbour, which is the main point of departure for public boats out to the Gili Islands. The road is blocked about halfway down at a parking area, and you must continue on foot about another 400m to the beach. cidomo drivers will entice you to pay high prices for a horse cart ride to the beach, but it isn't that far if you are not carrying heavy baggage.
The harbour is renowned for the annoying touts and sellers who hang around trying to force travellers to charter boats and buy goods before going to the islands. Tickets for the public boats out to the islands can be purchased from the large white building directly to the left on the beach, and boat charters can also be organised from here, with fixed prices clearly displayed inside the building. Further north along the main road a small sign-posted road branches off to Pantai Sira, a beautiful white-sand beach with good snorkelling on the offshore coral reef.
This is also the site for the Kosaido Golf Course an 18-hole golf course with magnificent views from the greens. The architecturally stunning Hotel Tugu is perched on the pristine white beach nearby.
There are also several luxury villas available here The Anandita, Sira Beach House and Villa Sepoi Sepoi, with plans for more development on the lovely beachfronts with fabulous views across the ocean to the Gili Islands.
On the tip of the next peninsula north is a small temple, Pura Medana, with wonderful sunset views and a peaceful atmosphere. Follow the sign posted road to The Oberoi, passing Medana Resort and the Lombok Lodge on the right. At the very end, the luxurious Oberoi Resort is in a breathtakingly beautiful location right on the beach. To the right is the wide sweep of Medana Bay. There is a boat marina here with safe anchorage for boats and a small pier, as well as basic facilities for the boating community. Since 2009, Medana Bay Marina has hosted visiting yachts participating in the annual Sail Indonesia Rally and the facility is set to expand in the future. currently, Medana Bay has twenty five mooring buoys in more than 5m of water for 35 ft - 45 ft vessels and anchorage space for another twenty vessels.
The large town of Tanjung is about 5 km north of Bangsal. It is the administrative capital for North Lombok and has numerous warung and shops, and one of the few public telephone offices (wartel) on the islands. Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists live in this district and there are many different ceremonies originating from the area. Tanjung has an intersting market every day and a cattle market on Sunday, where cows, goats and horses from all over the islands are bought and sold.
Godang, further up the coast, is a small village near a good beach. A trail leads northeast to Tiu Pupus Waterfall, around 6km away. In rainy season, the spring fed falls flow into a deep pool at the base. The trek through a traditional Sasak village, Keruak, makes the effort worthwhile.
Another half hour trek leads to Kerta Gangga Waterfalls, with three beautiful waterfalls and pools set amongst the jugle, and a small bat cave nearby. Local guides are useful for showing th best places (they will find you!).
Further north, the traditional village of Segenter, on the road to Anyar, is now on the tourist route and provides a glimpse into the day to day life of a small rural village. The 300 villagers in this northern interior village eke out a living raising corn and beans, yet they welcome visitors with a smile and proudly share their simple life with tours through the village.
Bayan, further north, is steeped in history and maintains old Sasak Traditional. This is a fascinating area to explore, although accommodation is limited. Bayan is the home of the unusual religion, Wetu Telu, which is only found in Lombok. Wetu Telu combines the Sasak's traditional animistic beliefs with Islam and elements of Hinduism.