Lombok is a paradise for adventure seekers and off the beaten path travelers. From the pristine and untouched Lombok beaches with great surf, to epic volcanoes and impressive waterfalls in Lombok, there’s something for every type of traveler. Some people say that Lombok is the Bali from 20 years ago due to the smaller crowds and more rugged, authentic vibes. So of course we had to check it out ourselves after living in Bali for more than a year. We explored Lombok island for 2 weeks, and put together this complete guide with all the 15 best things to do in Lombok for you.
Lombok offers its own unique version of Indonesian culture and society at a much slower pace than its more popular neighbouring island Bali. Maybe the biggest difference in culture is that 85-90% of Lombok’s inhabitants is Muslim. The rest is Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. That’s why Lombok is also called as the ‘island of the thousand mosques’. You can spot a mosque almost every 500 meter. So yes, that also means you will most likely hear the call to prayer at 4 AM in the morning if you stay at an accommodation close to a mosque. So be aware of that when booking!
Lombok has certainly similarities to Indonesia’s other islands. Like the volcanoes, beautiful beaches, turquoise blue warm waters, lush jungle and plenty of traditional villages which still live authentically. However, the low-key character of Lombok’s tourism means that visitors need to do more work to find the really special sights on this island.
But there has been lots of development going on in 2019, 2020 and 2021 with the Mandalika project. A $3 billion project to built a new MotoGP circuit, luxury residences, luxury resorts together with an appropriate infrastructure. The first MotoGP race in Lombok has been held in 2022 and all the new developments promises a lot of visitors for the upcoming years.
How to get to Lombok
You can choose the type of transport to Lombok based on a few things.
- Which part of Lombok will you be staying?
- Do you get sea sick quickly?
- Are you also planning to visit the Gili Islands?
- From where in Bali are you planning to depart to Lombok?
Based on your answers to these questions, you can decide what the best way is to get to Lombok.
Fastest way to get to Lombok
By Airplane. With a new international airport, Lombok is reachable with a 30 minute flight from Bali’s international airport in Denpasar. Flight tickets are almost the same price (around €30) as a fast boat ticket.
Cheapest way to get to Lombok
The cheapest way to get to Lombok from Bali is with the public ferry from Padang Bai harbour in East Bali to Lembar Port in South West Lombok, close to Mataram. This will cost you around 50,000 IDR (€3) per person and takes approximately 4 hours.
Going with the fast boat to Lombok
About 10 fast boat operators service fast sea transfers to Lombok from different areas in Bali. Mostly it’s including a free pick up and drop off service. But make sure to check this with the agency you book with. The fast boats depart through several ports in Bali and take about one hour to get to Lombok. So depending on where you stay in Bali, you can decide which harbour is the closest for you. The ports from where the fast boats leave to Lombok are from Sanur, Serangan Island (close to Sanur), Benoa (in between Nusa Dua and Sanur) and in North-East Bali from Amed and Padangbai.
If you want to travel from Bali to the Gili Islands, and then to Lombok, you will arrive to Bangsal harbour in North Lombok from one of the Gili’s .
The fast boat routes from Bali to Lombok are as following:
Amed (North Bali) – Bangsal (North Lombok)
Benoa Harbour (South Bali) – Bangsal (North Lombok)
Sanur (South Bali) – Senggigi (North West Lombok)
Padang Bai – Teluk Kode (North Lombok)
Padang Bai – Bangsal (North Lombok)
Serangan Island – Bangsal (North Lombok)
Serangan Island – Teluk Kode (North Lombok)
Best time to visit Lombok / Lombok weather
There are two distinct seasons in Lombok, the rainy season from October to March and the dry season from May to September. Throughout the year, daytime temperatures normally remain around 30°C but during rainy season the island experiences its highest levels of humidity. If you can bear the hot and humid conditions, you’ll have the island to yourself as this is low season. In April, temperatures begin to drop and the countryside becomes lush with green vegetation. May and June is considered to be the best time to visit Lombok as the days are sunny and not too hot with beautiful green nature around. At the end of the dry season and before rainy season start, you can expect the nature in Lombok to be very dry. Based on that, September, October and November are not the best months to visit Lombok if you want to enjoy the lush nature.
How to get around in Lombok
If you are comfortable driving a scooter we would definitely recommend to rent one. But be aware because we heard stories of other travellers being scammed in Lombok with their rental scooter. They either got (almost) scammed for damage they didn’t make, or their motorbike got “stolen” (but not really stolen), and they needed to pay a huge amount of money to the owner. Read more about typical Lombok scams and how to avoid it at the end of this blog post, just to warn you about these louche scenes… Another option is to book a tour to see all the highlights of the island in one or a few days.
Where to stay in Lombok
This definitely depends on which part of the island you want to explore. But the ‘main’ tourist areas are Kuta Lombok and Senggigi. Both have stunning beaches, but Kuta Lombok is especially popular among surfers with the incredible waves on the South coast of the island. Senggigi is the place to go for the more luxury beach resorts and family vacations.
In North Lombok you won’t really find any luxury resorts. It’s more backpack vibe with very affordable guesthouses. We stayed a few days in a very cheap but good guesthouse in Senaru with views on Mount Rinjani. See the picture below.
How many days to spend in Lombok
Of course this depends how much time you have and what you want to see and do on the island. If you’re planning to climb Mount Rinjani, make sure to plan 3 – 4 days including recovery for this adventure. And if you want to surf for a few days, take this into account when you make your Lombok itinerary!
We stayed for two weeks and had plenty of time to do the things we wanted to do. So if you’re short in time, but you want to see all the beauty that Lombok has to offer, I would advice to plan 5 – 8 days to explore the island.
Best things to do in Lombok
Relax at Tanjung Aan beach
Tanjung Aan is a beautiful pristine beach from about 1km long. It is known to be one of the best beaches in Lombok, and we can agree with that! It can get a bit crowded in the middle of the day, but the beach is big enough that you can find a secluded spot if you’re willing to walk further from the parking lot.
There are quite a few beach shacks where you can buy food, drinks or rent a beach chair and umbrella. Typically, these beach warungs will give you a beach chair for free if you buy something from them. Locals sell bracelets and sarongs on the beach, and there is an ice cream guy driving up and down the beach with an “ice cream, ice cream” song coming out of his speakers all the time. A bit annoying sometimes if you want to enjoy the quiet surroundings on the beach. But ideal if you want to cool off with.. ice cream!
Hike to Tiu Kelep waterfall & Sendang Gile waterfall
Tiu Kelep Waterfall and Sendang Gile Waterfall in the small mountain village Senaru in North Lombok are two of the most spectacular waterfalls of this Indonesian island. Located at the base of Mount Rinjani and amongst some of Lombok’s luscious jungle, visiting Tiu Kelep waterfall and the smaller Sendang Gile waterfall, must be on your Lombok itinerary. The Tiu Kelep waterfall is the most impressive of these two waterfalls. The whole back wall of the forest is taken over by the falls, and there’s one other stream of the waterfall even more powerful that pours diagonally across the falls. Vines have taken over the walls where the water flows out from into a shallow pool below. It’s a true jungle feeling here!
To be well prepared for the hike to these falls, read this complete guide about Tiu Kelep waterfall & Sendang Gile waterfall.
Catch sunrise at Bukit Selong rice fields viewpoint
The Bukit Selong Rice Fields viewpoint is a patchwork of colourful farm plots viewed from various mountain tops in Sembalun village, North Lombok. You can walk to various viewpoints on the mountain to get a good perspective of the area. On the other side of Bukit Selong, you will see Mount Rinjani. An impressive sight with the small village in the valley in between the two high mountain ranges.
Sunrise is the best time to get here for the light. You don’t really see the sun rise, but it’s a beautiful experience to see a local village like this waking up with the impressive mountains in the backdrop. This is one of the less popular things to do in Lombok, but therefore it’s one of the best things to do! You might have the chance to experience this viewpoint all for yourself!
We payed 10,000 IDR entrance fee per person.
Surf at Selong Belanak beach
Lombok has beautiful beaches all over the island. One of the beaches that has the ultimate learner’s wave in Lombok is Selong Belanak beach. This beautiful sheltered bay with small rolling straight hander waves are perfect for the beginner surfer. There are lots of warungs scattered along the beach and you can find buffalos cruising the beach. The soft white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and views on the surrounding hills makes this beach a great place to spend a day. There is also a long floating raft where you can walk on. We saw a lot of locals playing around at this beach, so if you want to see a combination of the local life and tourist activities, this is the beach where you should go to!
Do the Mount Rinjani trekking
If you’re looking for a real adventure in Lombok, then the Mount Rinjani trekking must be on your Lombok itinerary! The Mount Rinjani trekking opens from April until January. After January, the rainy season kicks in which makes trekking Mount Rinjani quite dangerous. April and May are the quietest months of the year and have some of the best views as the landscape is incredibly green. So the best time to climb Mount Rinjani is in May to enjoy the most beautiful views and quieter crowds.
Trekking Mount Rinjani is only for the adventurous and fit people. You can choose between different trekkings. Two days one night is where you hike until the Senaru crater rim which takes 6-8 hours. There you’ll set up your camp, watch the sunrise the next morning and make your way back to Senaru village after. The full experience on the other hand, takes 3 days and 2 nights to the summit of Mount Rinjani to an incredible 3,726 meters. Whether the trekking to the summit of Mount Rinjani is open depends on the weather conditions. But most of the time the hike to the crater rim is open as you walk up through the jungle on a mostly shaded trail. It is incredibly steep and a real burner for the legs, so make sure to be physically ready for this adventure!
Go to the Gili Islands
North West of Lombok you will find three tiny but beautiful paradise islands. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, where no cars or motorbikes are allowed. You will only see horse carriages riding around or bicycles. Although these three islands are almost the same size, they all have different activities to offer. Gili Trawangan is the biggest one and more of a party island. But there are still beautiful quiet corners on the island and new luxury villa’s and resorts keep popping up. Gili Meno on the other hand is more a relaxing island where honeymooners, divers, couples and peace seekers find their favorite spots. Gili Air is comparable to Gili Meno with beautiful underwater life and a laid back vibe for peace seekers and vacationers.
Admire the lightrays in the bat cave near Kuta Lombok
It’s maybe not the most popular thing to do in Lombok for tourists, visiting a bat cave. But, the small caves nearby Kuta Lombok are absolutely worth a visit! The Kuta Lombok Bat Cave, also known as Bangkang Cave, is a small system of caves on the hillside behind Kuta Lombok. There are actually three different caves. Goa Bangkang Prabu, Goa Puwun (or Mystical Neverland) and the third cave is Goa Sumur. You’ll find them all in the same area and no matter which one you choose, you will get to see, and smell, thousands of bats. We’ve visited two of the caves and our goal was to create a picture with the magical lightrays. They only appear at a certain time when the sunlight comes right through the gap of the roof. It’s super magical to see and capture with your camera!
Read in this complete guide everything you need to know about the Bat Caves Lombok
Watch the sunset at Bukit Merese
One of the best spots to watch the sunset in Lombok is from Bukit Merese, also known as sunset point Kuta Lombok. It’s a short but epic hike to a hill that overlooks Tanjung Aan bay and the next bay to the west. It’s a 15 minute drive on the moped from Kuta Lombok to the parking area. There you have to pay 10,000 IDR parking fee. There is also a small warung where you can grab a coconut or beer before beginning the climb. But always bring your trash back with you!
There are several spots where you can sit down and watch the sunset. Merese Hill is quite big, so if you want to have a place for yourself, make sure to walk all the way to the end of the hill. This will take about 15 minutes.
Read everything about Bukit Merese in this complete guide.
Live the beach resort life in Senggigi
Senggigi is one of the main tourist hubs of the island, although you won’t find a huge range of amenities here. It is more like a quiet enclave where you can relax and enjoy the beach that wraps around the coastline. In this part you will find the best choice of beach hotels and resorts. There are a range of restaurants and cafes in Senggigi where you can get foods and drinks. But still, there is a chilled out atmosphere here that lets you enjoy the beauty of the island. It’s the perfect place for families and couples to be located and explore this part of the island.
If you like to take your views to a higher level, try paragliding in Lombok! There are several sites from where you can take off with a tandem flight. From the Prabu Hill nearby Kuta, you will take off to enjoy the incredible views as you float up and down along the coast. Another option is to take off from the Pergasingan hill in Sembalun village. There you will have an impressive view on the surroundings mountains, rice fields and the impressive Mount Rinjani!
Explore Pink beach
Located in a remote area of Lombok’s east coast, Pink Beach is not an easy place to visit. It’s an off the beaten path destination, which is a bit difficult to reach. But mostly, when a place is difficult to reach, it means there’s a big chance that you will have the place for yourself! There’s not much else to do or to see around except the impressive cliffs and endless views on the ocean. But riding around through the local villages and sightseeing along the way is part of the adventure to this unique beach!
Visit a traditional Sasak village
If you want to learn about the traditional Sasak culture, you should take a trip to Beleq or Sade Village. These are some of Lombok’s many indigenous local villages. The authentic villages are known for its elevated woven huts, textile vendors & street performances. Beleq Village dates back from the 14th century which means that it has a fascinating history. The interesting thing about these villages is that it hasn’t changed much over the years. Although, it is still a tourist village aimed at educating visitors about the traditional Sasak way of life.
Explore Benang Kelambu waterfall & Benang Stokel waterfall
Tucked away in Geopark Rinjani are Benang Stokel Waterfall and Benang Kelambu Waterfall located. The Benang Kelambu waterfall is a really unique one. The water that flows from the bushes and the epic wall of vines hides several waterfalls that flow quietly along the wall. It’s a beautiful waterfall to see, but there’s even another one to explore in this area! The Benang Stokel waterfall is a collection of two, and sometimes even three waterfalls in a small valley. The Benang Stokel waterfalls are not as huge or powerful as the other Lombok waterfalls, but definitely worth a visit!
Go island hopping and snorkeling at the secret Gili’s
When you hear about ‘The Gili Islands’, you probably think about the popular islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. However, there are more Gili’s than you might think. In fact, there are 26 different Gili’s around Lombok! During our time in Lombok we had to check out the “Secret Gili’s”, which is a referral to the Gili’s on Lombok’s South-west coast. These consist of Gili Asahan, Gili Layer, Gili Gili Gede, Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and Gili Kedis. While the islands are far from secret and all looking like each other, they are beautiful to explore. The marine life is great, and with the tiny sandbars, turquoise blue waters and remote vibes an absolute fun day trip from Lombok. Most tours offer a lunch-stop on the shore of a remote island, snorkeling gear and water.
Admire the lush green rice fields
North Lombok has beautiful lush rice field views to offer. Tetebatu Village in particular is a quaint and scenic rural area of 700 metres above sea level, also known as Lombok’s rice fields heaven. Visitors have the chance to experience the real, traditional village life in Lombok surrounded by the beautiful rice terraces. In some ways, Tetebatu is similar to Ubud in neighbouring Bali. If you want to get off the beach, then Tetebatu Village makes a nice change of environment. The village is a great place to learn about the culture of the indigenous people of Lombok, called the Sasak. You can also find out about traditional handicraft techniques in the area and pick up some souvenirs at the same time.
Be aware for typical scams in Lombok
During our time in Lombok we had a few encounters with potential scammers. I absolutely don’t want to discourage you to travel to Lombok, because the island is beautiful and has lots of things to offer. But I do want to warn you for a few potential scams to make your trip to Lombok a beautiful memory!
Please be alert when renting a motorbike, especially in Kuta. There
are a few potential scams possible with renting motorbikes.
1. Paying for damage you didn’t make. How to avoid?
Always check AND photograph scratches or other damage to the motorbike you rent together with the person you rent from. In this way you have prove that certain scratches were already on the motorbike. Otherwise you have the chance that these people want to scam you by paying for the damage on the motorbike you didn’t make.
2. Your motorbike got stolen but surprisingly found back by other locals (or not!) who insist and sometimes even threaten you to pay. How to avoid?
Make sure to check reviews of the company you want to rent from, or rent from the hotel you’re staying. Mostly these people work together with a group, and they share their proceeds with each other. If you want more information about this, read this article on Lonely Planet about someones experience being scammed in Lombok with a stolen motorbike.
Same as what happens with motorbike rental. When you bring the surfboard back to the surf school, they tell you you made a scratch. Then they insist you to pay for the damage. How to avoid? Same as with the motorbike rental. Always check AND photograph scratches or other damage to the surfboard together with the person you’re renting from.
“You need a guide” waterfalls scam
Some locals want to earn extra money by walking with you to the waterfalls “as your guide”. They are pushy and say that “you need a guide to go to the waterfalls”. That’s just nonsense, because the paths to the waterfalls are very straight forward. You can’t get lost, it’s not a tricky hike or whatsoever. How to avoid? Either go very, very early (before the ticket office opens), or make sure you’re very steadfast in negotiating.
Mount Rinjani trekking scam
How to avoid? Go to either Senaru or Sembalun directly and talk to the companies there. Always read reviews before booking a tour with a company! Trekking Mount Rinjani is a serious thing and requires a serious company to guide you! Don’t book in Kuta because they add up a lot of costs.
Source: Digital Travel Couple