Use a local guide, who can lead you through the jungle to waterfalls or point out places of interest, when exploring the trails of north Lombok. Negotiate a fee beforehand.
Bangsal is a pretty village with a large Balinese Hindu population, surrounded by rice fields, temples, and close to the ocean and the mountains. The village has a few small homestays, particularly on the road to the harbor, and makes a good base for exploring the north. The harbor, however, is renowned for the annoying touts and sellers who try to force travelers to charter boats and buy goods before going to the Gili Islands.
Further north, a small signposted road branches off from the main road to Pantai Sira, a beautiful white sand beach with good snorkeling on the offshore coral reef. This is also the site for the world-class Kosaido Golf Course (tel. 0370/640137; US$65-US$85 greens fee and caddy).
On the tip of the next peninsula north is a small temple, Pura Medana, an ancient Hindu site with wonderful sunset views and a peaceful atmosphere.
Tanjung, 5km (3 miles) north of Bangsal, is a large village with numerous warungs and shops, and one of the few public telephone offices in the north. Tanjung has an interesting daily cattle market for cows, goats, and horses.
Gondang, further up the coast, is a small town near a good beach. Tiu Pupus Waterfall is a 20-minute walk beyond the end of a poorly marked, rocky road. The falls flow into a deep pool with nice swimming. The trek through the traditional Sasak village of Kerurak makes the effort worthwhile. Another half-hour trek from Tiu Pupus leads to Kerta Gangga Waterfalls, with three beautiful waterfalls set in the jungle.
The dusty, traditional village of Segenter, on the road to Anyar, provides a glimpse into the harsh reality of life on the island's dry side. The 300 villagers in this northern interior village eke out a basic 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 renowned as the root of early Islam on Lombok and maintains old dance and poetic traditions, such as kemidi rudat, a theater performance based on the Thousand and One Nights. One of the oldest and most important Wetu Telu mosques is in Bayan, and important sacred sites from Lombok's ancient past are located nearby.
The road from Bayan leads to Senaru, the gateway to the Rinjani National Park. The pretty village in lovely scenery has fantastic views of the volcanic mountains. The Sendang Gile waterfalls at Senaru are among Lombok's most spectacular, even after descending the 200-plus vertical steps to stand below them. The water cascades in a steep vertical drop down the hillside into a rocky stream below.
A Waterfall & Jungle Trek -- Guides can be hired from the Pondok Senaru Restaurant near the car park at Senaru for the less-than-an-hour trek through the jungle to the lovely Tiu Kelep waterfall. First, pay the modest admission fee at the gate (around Rp20,000) to Sendang Gile Waterfall, good for swimming. Negotiate an additional fee of around Rp50,000 for a guide to take you through the forest to Tiu Kelep. Climb the rocks to the hidden cave behind the falls and follow local legend that says for every pass behind the waterfall, you take 1 year off your age.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.