Beginner’s Guide to Lombok

Lombok is often referred to as the sister island of beautiful Bali. Although only a 30 minute flight from Bali, this larger Indonesian island is often overlooked. Yet there is plenty this bigger sister island has to offer for those willing to go off the beaten track. 

Where is Lombok?

Lombok is located east of Bali and can be reached via boat  or plane from Bali. Most people, particularly backpackers, are familiar with the Gili Islands which are in fact a part of Lombok island. So if you’ve been to the Gilis or you know where they are, keep heading east 20 mins on a boat and you’ll be at Lombok!

Why you should go there?

In all honesty, Lombok has everything (ish) that Bali has but with without being worn down by tourism. Despite being so close to neighbouring Bali, tourism has yet to take off at the same rate. The beauty is that the island complete with waterfalls, volcanoes and beaches are unspoiled by crowds. That’s right, there is no fighting others for an inch of room with your selfie stick. What this also means is that there is no traffic as well. 

In addition to the above, Lombok offers a more tranquil, rugged look with more mountainous and arid terrain. It is a place tourists go to escape bustling Bali. It is a place to relax. 

What’s there to see?

Colourful beaches

Lombok has some simply stunning beaches. As I mentioned before, one of the greatest appeals to the Lombok beaches is that they aren’t crowded. It is quite possible to have a beach all to yourself. Most of these beaches are located in the south of the island around Kuta (nothing like Bali’s Kuta). In addition to secluded beaches, visitors can also expect to find black sand beaches in Senggigi, white sand beaches (Selong Belanak and Tanjung Aan) in the south of the island and even a pink beach in the south east. Bali, on the hand, does not have any pink beaches.

Equally important to the beaches on mainland lombok are of course, the pristine beaches of the Gili islands. Located in the North West of Lombok, and in the South West in the region of Sekotong, the Gili islands are certainly one not to be missed. 

Waterfalls

There are many waterfalls to see in Lombok, mostly located in Rinjani National Park. All of these waterfalls can be accessed on your own but we took a guide to see two of them. Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep in the Rinjani National Park  are about 2 hours away from Senggigi. The first of the two waterfalls can be heard within walking down the steps towards the falls. Within 15 mins you are standing in front of Sendang Gile. A further 45 min trek will take you to Tiu Kelep, which is slightly larger. To swim in either of these waterfalls you will need to bring your bathers. Be warned: it is refreshingly chilly. One of the most exhilarating natural experiences you will feel!

Travel tip:

Have your bathers on underneath your clothes getting to the falls. There are no changing facilities at the foot of the falls. However, upon returning back to the entrance, you can change at the nearby restaurant.

Bring non-slippery shoes. It is slippery and you do occassionally have to wade through water over rocks (only ankle/knee deep). 

If you want to swim in the falls, don’t think about how cold it is. Take a deep breath and take the plunge! Overthinking it will result in missing out 😉 

Mosques

As with most of Indonesia, Lombok is largely Muslim. This means that rather than visiting Hindu temples typical of Bali island, colourful mosques are the thing to see. Lombok is quickly gaining a reputation of being the island of 1000 mosques as they increase their tourism to appeal to Muslim tourists. The most striking of the vast collection is the Islamic Centre in Mataram. Other mosques visitors may want see are scattered across central Lombok (Great Mosque of Praya and Masjid Kopong) and Eastern Lombok (Masjid Al Akbar and Jamiq Mosque).

Travel tip:

It is important to remember to dress modestly and respectfully when visiting religious sites. 

Volcanoes

Mount Rinjani is an active volcano located in the North of Lombok. It is the second largest volcano in Indonesia and part of the ring of fire. What’s more, within the caldera,  there is a lake called Segara Anak. On the lake a smaller mountain has formed from recent eruptions. This gives the impression of a little volcano, sitting in a lake, within a bigger volcano which is kind of cool! It is possible to climb Mount Rinjani but it will take two days and one night at the very least. Sadly I was unaware of this when planning my trip and didn’t h ave enough time to make the climb. Although, my fitness level would hardly have been adequate for me to make  the climb! In addition, the park was actually closed until just a day or two prior to our arrival. This was due to a recent eruption. 

Travel tip:

For those that do want to make the climb, there are a few options. Visit the national park’s website for more details. Entrance to the park costs 150,000 IDR per person. 

Sasak culture

The Sasak people make up 85% of Lombok’s population. They predominantly follow the Islamic faith, while some practice the pre-Islamic religion originally found on the island. The followers of Wetu Telu, pray three times a day to honour the three human rites of birth,  marriage and religion. However, the majority of the Sasak people follow Wetu Lima or the ‘five times’ religion, in line with Sunni muslims.

There are a few traditional Sasak villages around the foot of Mount Rinjani. Many  of the villagers are farmers or fishermen. Similar to neighbouring Bali,  Sasak festivals and ceremonies are a mix of modern day  (Islam) and old religion (featuring animism and hinduism). If you are lucky you may witness a festival or ceremony as you pass by. We spotted a Sasak wedding on our Sunday drive around the island. 

How to get there:

It is possible to fly into Lombok at Bandar Udara International airport in the south of the island, from major international cities. 

In addition, you can also arrive via boat into Sengiggi harbour or Bangsal harbour. However, I highly recommend avoiding Bangsal harbour at all costs. The harbour is run by pirate taxis who prevent hotels from sending their taxis to pick you up. Consequently, they will charge you an extortionate amount  to get you out of the harbour area. Be prepared to haggle if you do end up in Bangsal.

Accommodation: 

We stayed in popular Sengiggi at the Alam Mimpi boutique hotel. There are plenty of hotels to choose from on the beach and in the hills. 

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Beginner's guide to Lombok          Beginner's guide to Lombok

26 Comments

  1. I would like to visit Lombok one day! It is nice to know that Indonesia has such an amazing place without crowds and beautiful beaches. The pink beach sounds wonderful to me so does the waterfall.

    Reply
    • Yeah we didn’t actually have time to head to the pink beach because it was a bit too far away for the time we had in the country. I wish we had spent a bit longer to explore more of the south. The lack of crowds was definitely relaxing and the people were really nice and friendly (except for at Bangsal Harbour). Definitely go!

      Reply
    • Oooh, I hope you make it over! Just please avoid Bangsal Harbour! The private (or pirate as I called them) taxi drivers were not very nice. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

      Reply
    • It’s definitely worth seeing I think. Especially if you want to escape the tourism. I think in hindsight it was better I didn’t climb that volcano! Sooo wasn’t fit enough! haha

      Reply
  2. If I ever visit Bali then Lombok is definitely on my list ! The nature seems gorgeous, especially the waterfall.
    Too bad you couldn’t climb the volcano though 😮

    Reply
    • You definitely should, especially as it is right next door. You could even do a little day trip from the Gilis too! I wish I could have climbed the volcano too but in hindsight I don’t think I was really prepared for it. I was just focused on those views without thinking about what it would take to see it! haha.

      Reply
  3. Just visited Lombok myself and left wanting to explore more! I might even go as far to say I loved it more than Bali… the lack of crowds really does add to the appeal! Would loved to have explored more of the volcanoes – I’ll have to return haha 🙂

    Reply
    • It’s a lovely island isn’t it? I’m honestly baffled that tourism didn’t take off in the way it did with Bali and the Gilis next door!

      Reply
    • After visiting Lombok I became more intrigued with Indonesia’s hidden island gems. I have to say, I want to visit Lombok again and Komodo and Raja Ampat now! There’s so much untouched beauty which I guess is rare to find these days. Hope you get it visit some day soon. x

      Reply
    • Yes seriously, no crowds. We visited in October which is a great time visit Bali. I wish we had more time. The island has a lot to offer.

      Reply
  4. I love the idea of going somewhere that is portrayed as serene and peaceful and finding that it actually is! A lot of the places we see are such huge destinations it is hard to have a moment to yourself, so I’d love to visit here now!

    Reply
    • I completely agree. I also didn’t anticipate just how crowded the touristy spots in Bali would be which did make it hard to enjoy. So yes this is a much better spot to enjoy the serenity!

      Reply
    • I am too! I wish there was more information on the sasak culture out there but it’s a bit hard to find. Hope you get to the enjoy the place soon.

      Reply
  5. Lombok seems wonderful! I am going to Bali in November but unfortunately I won’t have time to visit anything else as I am there only for 6 days. But hopefully I can plan something in the future as those beaches and waterfalls looks amazing ! So beautiful!

    Reply
    • I hope you get to at some point. It would be interesting to see how you feel about it after being in Bali. Enjoy your trip to Bali in a few months!

      Reply

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