For a long time, Lombok has been seen as a quieter alternative to its popular neighbour, Bali. But more and more, visitors are being charmed by the incredible beauty, unique cultural heritage and generous people of Lombok.
Not only is Lombok blessed with pristine white-sand beaches, lush volcanic hills and sweeping palm-fringed bays, it is also seeing a surge of development, making it an exciting place to explore and relax in luxury.
From the stunning Gili islands in the north to the Mandalika project in the south, there’s a whole world of amazing experiences waiting to be discovered on this beautiful island paradise. With more and more visitors gracing its shores, we’ve put together a guide to 20 of the best secret spots of outstanding beauty or interest. Best get there before everyone finds out!
How to get to Lombok
The most popular way to get to Lombok is on the fast boat from Padang Bai in Bali, to Lembar Port, south Lombok. It takes an hour and a half in good conditions but the exact time depends on the current. From August until October, the seas are notorious for being rough, so if you suffer from seasickness, it may be better to catch the 30-minute flight from Bali’s new international airport, which opened in 2011. Budget travellers tend to prefer the slow boat, which takes four to five hours and is not affected as much by rough conditions.
For those arriving from outside Indonesia, there are direct flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, South Korea and Guangzhou. And in February 2019, a new route from Perth to Lombok will open. Additional routes are expected in the next six to nine months from Hong Kong, Beijing, Australia and the Middle East.
The best time to visit
The wet season lasts from October to April. The island turns a beautiful lush green but it makes getting around a little more tricky. The dry season lasts from May to the beginning of October. Both seasons offer a different experience of the island but there’s a sweet spot, in the middle of the dry season, when it’s less humid but still beautifully green and vibrant. There will be more crowds around this time so it’s up to you to decide what you prefer.
20 secret Lombok gems not to miss
1. The Gili Islands – Air, Meno & Trawangan
It was these stunning islands that originally attracted visitors and served as the entry point to explore the rest of Lombok. Each of the Gilis has its own unique character. Generally speaking, you’ll find honeymooners enjoying a romantic getaway on Gili Meno, yogis and families finding inner and outer peace on Gili Air and a younger crowd partying on Gili Trawangan. There’s plenty to do including snorkelling, diving, paddle boarding and surfing. We suggest allocating at least three days to explore the islands, but you could easily spend a couple of weeks and really get to know them.
2. Visit a pearl farm
Discover the process of culturing a South Sea pearl from start to finish on the north coast of Lombok. The friendly team guide you through the entire process from nurturing the oysters to the surgical precision of removing the pearl. Contrary to popular belief, harvesting the pearl does not harm the oyster (when done carefully). In fact, as more pearls are grown and harvested, the oysters produce better and better pearls.
3. Explore Suranadi and trek to Benang Kelambu Waterfall
Visit the holy temple of Suranadi, which means ‘The River of the Gods’. The temple is part of Suranadi Natural Park where you can explore lush forests and discover natural springs and the breathtaking Benang Kelambu Waterfall.
4. Cultural immersion at Banyumulek Village
Discover Lombok’s local culture at this fascinating village, one of the best places to see the island’s traditional pottery. The Sasak people of Lombok have been making pottery for generations, and here you have the chance to experience the process and see the finished product. These items have become popular as far and wide as New Zealand and Europe so this is a great opportunity to see where the craft comes from and take some souvenirs home with you. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay between IDR 15,000- IDR 500,000 per piece depending on the size, motif and complexity.
5. Kerandangan National Park
Kerandangan National Park sprawls inland from the western coast of Lombok, providing a glimpse of stunning scenery, unique plant life and beautiful beaches. Stretching from the well-known Senggigi Beach, as you go further south, you are in for a more secluded adventure, and if you’re lucky you may see wild animals like wild partridges, giant lizards, the long-tailed ape, the ebony leaf monkey or the famous Kupu-Kupu Raja Helena, a rare butterfly protected by conservation laws.
6. Meru Hindu temple
The Meru Hindu temple is the biggest of its kind on Lombok Island and features a unique multi-storied roof. The temple was built in the 18th century, a collaborative effort by 33 Lombok villages. Meru temple can be reached easily from Mataram by private car, motorcycle, public car or taxi.
7. Brave a trek up Mount Rinjani
A trip to Lombok isn’t complete without a visit to Mount Rinjani, the active volcano that dominates the landscape of northern Lombok. Mount Rinjani is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful volcanoes on the planet. At the very top, you’ll find a giant crater lake that’s 200 metres deep and filled with the purest blue water. The nearby hot springs at Aik Kalak offer an invigorating respite for your tired legs after the hike up the mountain. Trekking on Mount Rinjani is allowed from April until January. Be warned: camping in tents on an active volcano that erupted as recently as 2010 and walking for up to 15 hours a day carrying your own gear makes this one for the most adventurous souls only.
8. Camping on Pergasingan Hill
If hiking the trail up to the summit of Mount Rinjani is a little too challenging for your taste, you can take in some spectacular views on an easier hike at Bukit Pergasingan. Although it is still a tough up-hill walk, it only takes around an hour and offers an incredible view of Mount Rinjani and the beautiful rice fields surrounding it. If you spend the night at the campsite at the top, you can catch a stunning sunrise over the hills and ocean below in the morning. Watch out for the mischievous monkeys along the trail who’ll snatch anything that’s not tied down.
9. Camp at Lake Segara Anak
The beautiful Lake Segara fills the caldera at the summit of Mount Rinjani and is surrounded by lush vegetation. For the full experience of Rinjani’s majesty, camp at the crater lake, taking in the beautiful shimmering turquoise waters by day, followed by spectacular views of the starry sky as night falls.
10. Rinjani-Lombok UNESCO Global Geopark
Rinjani-Lombok UNESCO Global Geopark covers a huge area of northern Lombok, encompassing five districts (Lombok Utara, Lombok Timur, Lombok Barat, Lombok Tengah and Mataram City). Its rich and diverse flora and fauna make it a great place to explore on foot, marvelling at the incredible bounty of nature. The landscape ranges from savannah to semi-deciduous forests to lower montane and tropical evergreen forests.
11. Tanjung Ringgit Eco Region
A hike through the carefully preserved and protected Tanjung Ringgit Eco Region in Southeast Lombok reveals a world of natural beauty. Explore the white-sand beaches, dramatic limestone cliffs and pristine dive sites and one of the world’s only pink-sand beaches, which owes its colour to the delicate and rare red coral in the ocean nearby.
12. Visit Beleq Village
The village of Beleq in the northeast of Lombok is home to the oldest mosque on the island. Built in the 16th century from woven bamboo, it features a traditional Meru roof and showcases a fascinating mix of the local building style with the Islamic influence. Beleq Village is full of friendly locals who are happy to tell you more about the traditional Sasak way of life.
13. Mawi Beach
Mawi beach is a popular surf spot for all abilities and offers excellent sunset views from Lombok’s southwest corner. As you would expect by now, the long stretch of beach has beautiful white sand and pristine clear, warm waters. The perfect spot to kick back and soak in Lombok’s timeless beauty.
14. Learn to surf at Selong Belanak Beach or for the advanced surfer catch waves at Desert Point
Selong Belanak beach was recently named the best beach in Asia by South China Morning Post and it’s a great place for beginners to learn to surf. More advanced surfers can head to Desert Point out on Lombok’s southwest tip to catch the big waves sweeping in from the north and south.
15. Paragliding from Prabu Hill
Take to the skies and drink in the awesome views of Lombok’s south coast from the air with a paragliding adventure. The top of Prabu Hill is the perfect spot to take off from. And don’t worry if you’ve never paraglided before, as you will be strapped to an experienced instructor.
16. ‘The Magnet’ dive spot
In the south of Lombok at Belongas Bay, there is a famous dive spot that sinks 66 metres straight down, revealing a world of soft corals and colourful tropical fish. This secluded spot is known to attract huge schools of barracuda, giant eagle rays, white-tip reef sharks and super impressive scalloped hammerhead sharks.
17. Tour the secret Gili Islands in the East
The secret Gili islands off the east coast of Lombok offer the pure, serene paradise island experience that’s so rare to find. Each has its own character and charm. Gili Lampu is a small but beautiful mangrove island. There are no beaches but excellent snorkelling among its coral-filled waters. Gili Kapal is a tiny sandbar island which is almost inaccessible at high tide. This is somewhere to feel totally isolated and enjoyed some of the clearest, pristine water in the region. Gili Badara is larger and more accessible. It’s a good place to stay as you explore the other islands. Finally, Gili Kondo is a must. It’s the most popular of the secret Gilis for its unmatched sunset views, stunning coral snorkelling and popular beach shack selling drinks and snacks. It’s best to come during the week when there are fewer people. Bring a tent and camp under the stars on this paradise island.
18. Explore Kuta Lombok and the Mandalika Project, The Moto GP track and Tanjung Aan
The Mandalika Project is the jewel in the crown of Lombok’s luxury tourism developments. With more than 10,000 rooms at luxury hotels including the Pullman, Paramount Resort, Club Med, Royal Tulip, Grand Mercure Hotel, head here for a five-star experience. The resort is home to the Moto GP 2021 street circuit, a yacht marina, several golf courses, and access to the stunning Tanjun Aan beach, among many other highlights, and is built with a commitment to “The Green Future”, a template for sustainable development on Lombok
19. Bumbang Beach Sunset Reflection Pools
Head to Bumbang Beach at high tide to enjoy stunning sunset views and see the pinky-purple colours reflected in its shallow pools. The next bay over from popular Awang Bay in the south of Lombok, Bumbang Beach is a great place to relax as you’ll often have the place to yourself.
20. Cultural immersion at Sasak Sade Village
Tucked away in the beautiful undulating hills of south Lombok, you’ll find peace and traditional Sasak culture at Sade Village. Sade has some of the best examples of large Sasak houses and is well-known for the craft of weaving. The local women make all sorts of colourful Ikat and Songket items of clothing and rugs that make a great souvenir or gift for a loved one.
Find adventure, beauty and unique culture on Lombok
There is so much to see and do on Lombok and the surrounding Islands. Exploring the traditional villages, beautiful beaches and wild forested hills of both Bali and Lombok will give you a better feel and understanding of Indonesian culture. It’s no wonder tourism and investment is increasing on Lombok and Indonesia’s 17,000 other islands. Among them, you’ll find ancient culture to give you a sense of wonder, extreme sports to fuel your lust for adventure, and idyllic locations to relax and connect with nature, all in one magical paradise.