A Mini Guide to Lombok
Lombok Indonesia, near Bali, is an island destination for surf, snorkelling, swimming and nature loving travellers. Over the past 20 years, Bali has seen tourism boom and the island has seem mass development as millions of tourists descent on the destination. Lombok, however, has been fairly off the radar until recent years.
With less developments, fewer large scale hotels and smaller and peaceful villages, Lombok is certainly worth visiting – and sooner rather than later, while you can have the beaches almost to yourself. And i should mention – the sunsets here are some of the best i have ever seen!
*If you would like to see videos of my time in Lombok – check the links to my YouTube Channel below.
Lombok – staying at the Holiday Resort Lombok, Visiting the Senaru Traditional Village and hiking to the waterfalls.
Lombok – Visiting the Sade Traditional Weaving Village, Selong and Mawun Beaches and lunch at Kuta Beach.
Flying from Bali to Lombok is probably the quickest and cheapest means of getting to Lombok. The flight time is only 30 minutes and fares start from approximately $35 USD one way.
You can purchase tickets direct from the airline counters at the airports if you are a spur of the moment traveler, or take a look online at either Garuda Airlines or Lion Air.
If you wish to take to the high seas and enjoy a slower boat trip to Lombok then you have the choice of the slow travelling public ferries or the fast boats.
The public ferries depart from Padang Bai Harbour (in Bali) every hour, arriving at Lembar Harbour (Lombok) approximately 4-5 hours later. The trip costs $40USD one way.
There are many companies now offering fast boat services from Bali to Lombok. Blue Water Express depart everyday from Padang Bai Harbour and also from Serangan (Benoa Harbour). If you are returning to Bali your fare includes complimentary hotel transfer. A one way fare will cost you $75 USD.
Gili Getaway also offers fast boats from Serangan Harbour (Bali) to Lombok. A one way fare will set you back $67.50 USD while a return will cost $125 USD.
What is there to see and do
Short hikes to beautiful waterfalls
A short hike through Indonesia’s beautiful jungle to untouched natural waterfalls and lagoons is a refreshing change from the standard Kuta beach party scene holiday (however, the latter is still awesome lets be honest).
The Sindang Gile waterfalls is located near Senaru village. It can be found at the foot of the beautiful Mount Rinjani. As you start your hike you will notice the air temperate drop and the peaceful surrounds will relax you. This short trek is approximately 10-20 minutes and is all downhill on the way to the waterfall. The track itself is clearly marked and well developed with paths, handrails and steps constructed.
The Tiu Kelep waterfall is another 40 or so minutes from Sindang Gile waterfall (which you will arrive at first). This trek requires crossing a few small rivers. Although the water is quite shallow the rocks are quite slippery making it quite the adrenaline pumping experience.
Tiu Kelep waterfall is about 50 metres high, and has beautiful pools you can swim in at the foot of the fall. Keep in mind the water is quite cold.
There is a small fee to enter the area, and you pay at the large gates at the start of the trek. It is also possible to get a guide for your trek, which is a good idea if you are unsure of your abilities to cross a river.
If you are interested in getting an inclusive tour, from your hotel to both the nearby monkey forest (where you can feed the monkeys), Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep and to the traditional village of Senaru take a look at Lombok Outdoors. They have an 8 hour tour including hotel pickup, transport, guide and entrance fees covering these destinations from $65 USD (this price excludes lunch).
Kuta (not to be confused with Kuta Beach on Bali – there is one on Lombok too!) is the main touristy area in the south of Lombok. The small touristy village is set up along the beach, with restaurants, hotels and hostels, bars, souvenir stalls and of course tour and dive booking offices.
The vibe here is surf – and the accommodation is overflowing with budget options. There are a few small more upmarket hotels, as well as one resort.
If you are looking for a surf destination a little more laid back and relaxed than Kuta Beach in Bali, then Kuta Beach is a great place to stay and the nearby beaches are a very good option for swimming and surfing.
Kuta Beach itself, for swimming, relaxing and photographs isn’t the best compared to nearby beaches such as Selong Belanak Beach (one of my all time favourite beaches ever) and Mawun Beach. Both of these are a very short drive from Kuta Beach.
Selong Belanak Beach
Selong Belanak Beach is such a beautiful beach for relaxing, swimming or learning to surf. The water is clear, warm and calm enough with children.
The bright greens and blues of the water, the clean, white and flat beach and the mountainous backdrop make for such a beautiful destination.
There are a handful of small beachside local restaurants set up, as well as a few bars, and umbrellas and beach chairs for hire.
Mawun Beach is also very close to Kuta Beach. The beach here is popular with surfers who commonly gather at the far corner of the bay area. The water here is deeper and the beach itself is rather steep. This beach is also smaller with less local snack stalls.
Senaru Traditional Village
Senaru Traditional Village is home to the Sasak people. You can walk through the village, visit inside traditional built homes, learn about the community of the Sasak people and the various uses of buildings in a village.
Senaru is also the main entrance (and most popular starting point) to the Gunung Rinjani National Park – Indonesisa’s second highest peak. If you are also looking at doing a trek, the Rinjani Trek Centre is located next to the traditional village.
Sade Traditional Weaving Village
Just a one hour drive from Mataram City, and a half hour from Lombok Airport you can find Sade. A small hamlet in the village of Rembitan in Central Lombok. The Sade Village has the traditional village atmosphere. Traditional housing, village buildings and outdoor areas are all still evidently being used, with cows and goats tied to trees and ducks in handmade wooden pens.
Life as it has been for centuries still exists at this village. Traditional customs are still followed. Young girls in Sade Village must learn to weave garments from a young age. Once the girl can weave she is then able to be married, and must make traditional woven garments for herself, and both her husband and mother-in-law.
Something interesting – a traditional Sasak house is made of clay and cow dung. The cow dung is used to keep mosquitoes away. However, only about 10% of the people of Lombok still live in such Sasak homes.
There is a shop at the village (of course) selling traditionally made woven sarongs, scarfs, pillowcases and an array of other items. Even if you are not wishing to purchase any souvenirs it is still worth taking a quick look at all the beautiful colours, patterns and designs.
The Gili Islands are one of the most popular destinations on Lombok for visiting backpackers. The Gili Islands are made up of three small islands, and with companies such as Blue Water Express operating direct transfers from Bali, the destination sees thousands of travels each year.
Gili Air is the island that is closest to the mainland of Lombok. The pace here is very laid back, with accommodation options ranging from hotels to budget home stays. The overall mood here is relaxation – you can go diving or swim during the day and enjoy the small number of local restaurants mostly offering seafood barbecue type menus. There are a small number of bars.
For more information on Gili Air – you can check out Dave’s blog, from Jones Around the World, and his great article on “The Ultimate Guide to Gili Air”. I met Dave on my most recent trip to Indonesia.
Gili Meno is the middle island of the three and is the least developed and most quiet island. The perfect place to go if you are looking for great swimming and snorkelling beaches, deserted beaches, and great dive sites nearby. There are a few small upmarket hotels on the island as well as many beach bungalows for the more nature loving budget traveler.
Gili Trawangan (or Gili T as it is commonly referred to) is the most famous island of the group. Just 10 minutes speed boat from Lombok’s mainland. The island is an up and coming destination travel destination – with a plethora of upmarket restaurants, villas and hotels being developed over recent years.
However, Gili T still caters to a large number of backpackers who spend there days diving, snorkelling or relaxing in the many bars on a very small budget. Due to the popularity and development on Gili T – this would be the island to stay if you are looking to stay somewhere with more facilities, tours, services and activities available.
For more information on things to do on Gili Trawangan – you can check out Dave’s article on “Ten Amazing things to do on Gili Trawangan”, or read about his experience on a “Gili Trawangan Booze Cruise”.
Keen to do some diving while visiting the Gili Islands? The two most popular and raved about dives and companies are the Manta Dive Gili Air and the Blue Marlin Dive Gili Trawangan.
Where to stay
Keen to hit up the dive scene on the Gili Islands and on a budget, check out Gili La boheme Sister on Gili Trawangan. Here you can get a dorm bed under $20USD with free coffee, tea and banana pancakes in the morning.
Interested to surf some waves and spend some time in the laid back area of Kuta Beach, check out Kuta Baru Hotel. Here you can get a private twin villa room with bathroom for just over $20 per person.
Couple or honeymoon travellers looking at doing some day trips in Lombok, wishing to stay within reach of the beautiful waterfall hikes and maybe a day trip to the Gili Islands while spending just as much time relaxing? Then check out the beautiful Lombok Holiday Resort near Senggigi.
Senggigi is one of the main tourist areas for accommodation, restaurants, general stores, money exchange booths and tour booking offices on Lombok. It is about one hours drive from the Lombok International Airport.
All the major attractions can be reached by trips from the Senggigi area making it also a practical place to stay. The main street, by no means compares to touristy streets in Bali, but is the most lively area on the island.
Where to from Lombok Indonesia?
From Lombok, Garuda Indonesia also fly to Flores Island, the gateway to the Komodo National Park. Here you can see real life man eating dragons (i am not joking). Flights For more information on Komodo National Park you can read “Sunsets, Dragons, Islands and Sailing – My favourite travel experience in Indonesia”. *or watch the video linked below.
As always, i hope this post is helpful to those thinking of visiting Lombok Indonesia but unsure of where to visit or stay – or have already planned a trip to Bali and wanted to also visit another island for a few days during your stay. Much love and safe travels xx