Less well-known and less crowded than Bali, Lombok is filled with glorious rice paddies, pretty beaches, and the majestic Rinjani volcano that is definitely worth a visit for anyone in the mood for a challenge.
Lombok, while not as popular as Bali, makes an excellent stop on your itinerary if you are planning to spend some time in Indonesia.
Visitors to Indonesia often overlook Lombok in favor of its more famous cousin, Bali, although to skip this island is a mistake if you are in the area. Lombok sits just across from the famous party island on the other side of the Lombok Strait, and is easily accessible by ferry. Once there, you can stay on the mainland or island hop around the three Gili islands, wherein you will find laid-back island living and great diving and snorkeling opportunities. Lombok proper also offers a number of attractions, as the coast is dotted with hidden coves and beaches, hills, and even the imposing Mount Rinjani.
Many people visit Lombok with one goal in mind, climb Mount Rinjani and see the crater of this active volcano. For a more relaxed visit, you can visit Lombok’s answer to Bali’s Ubud in the village of Tetebatu, wherein you can spend some time surrounded by lush rice paddies and gorgeous rural scenery. For some beach time, consider visiting the Gili islands or Lombok’s main hub of Senggigi, wherein you will find pretty beaches and colorful sunsets aplenty.
There are several ways to get to Lombok depending on your preferences and where you are coming from.
One of the easiest ways to get to the island is to fly in via the Lombok International Airport, which is close to the town of Praya. If you are already in Bali and don’t want to fly, then another good option is to take the public ferry or a fast boat from Padang Bai to Lombok. You can find different companies offering this service.
International access ATMs and money changers are not nearly as plentiful on Lombok as it is in Bali, especially in Gili islands and Rinjani National Park. For this reason, it is recommended to take the necessary cash with you for the duration of your stay in Lombok. If you do need to access an ATM in Lombok, then the best place to do so is in a big town like Kuta or Senggigi.
The climate in Lombok is similar to that in Bali and is monsoonal. The seasons are either wet or dry, although it will most probably be hot whatever season your visit might fall in. Lombok is never as crowded as Bali but high season takes place in July and August, so better book you accommodations in advance especially if you intend to visit Gili islands. Low season includes the rainy months of October to April and this can be a rather gloomy time to visit if you are planning a beach holiday. Some of the best times to visit come in the shoulder season of May, June, or September, and you can expect nicer weather and fewer visitors.
Getting around Lombok can be a challenge, and traveling around the islands is done by either public or private ferry or boat. To explore the main island of Lombok itself, one of the best ways to get around is to hire a motorbike or scooter, which is usually cheap and easy to do.
Aside from a motorbikes, the only other real option is to rent a car or take a taxi to where you want to go. Public buses do exist, but their timetables can be erratic and their routes confusing.
Don’t expect the same number of food options in Lombok as you would find in Bali. You will find a range of restaurants and cafes that cater to all budgets and tastes, and serve Western and Indonesian dishes in tourist areas such as Senggigi and Kuta. In more remote areas of the island however, you may only find small Indonesian warung (cafes) selling local fare. It is also important to note that Lombok is predominantly Muslim as opposed to Hindu Bali, so pork is often not served in restaurants and the food is mostly halal. Alcohol is sold widely in tourist areas but may not be available in Muslim-run businesses in other parts of the island.
Lombok is a great place to explore if you have had your fill of Bali and want to try somewhere a bit different. Solo travelers, couples, and families can all find something to suit them here, be it a challenging hike, a lazy day on the beach, or a cultural experience visiting some of the more secluded parts of the island. Whatever your budget and tastes, Lombok has a range of activities and locations that will appeal to a wide array of travelers, and if you are looking to get away from the crowds then this is an excellent choice.