Lombok Travel Guide - Exploring Tropical Paradise
Lombok is paradise for adventure seekers. From pristine beaches to epic volcanoes and waterfalls, there’s something for every type of traveler. On our second visit to Indonesia, we spent 2 weeks exploring this amazing island and enjoyed every minute of it! Here’s our itinerary and tips to help you plan your adventure.
What to do in Lombok
We split our stay into 2 main parts: half of our stay was in the north part of the island, near Mt. Rinjani, and the other half was in Kuta on the south coast. The north served as our base for trekking the volcano, doing some other nearby hikes, and seeing some amazing waterfalls, and we explored some beautiful beaches and islands in the south and generally chilled out.
Sengiggi in the northwest of the island is also popular, with some nice resorts and beaches, but we opted to skip it in favor of spending more time in the south.
Pro tip: if you need to extend your Visa on Arrival, there’s an immigration office in Mataram and the process will most likely be significantly faster and less painful than doing the extension in Bali.
How long to stay in Lombok
We were in Lombok for a total of 10 days, and we spent 2 of those recovering from a stomach bug we acquired sometime during the Rinjani trek. Despite the forced downtime, we were happy with the length of our stay and feel like we got to see everything we were planning to. We’d recommend a week minimum for exploring the island but if you have more time you could spend months on Lombok and not get bored!
What to do in North Lombok
Without a doubt, the most popular activity for people visiting Lombok is to trek Mt. Rinjani. The massive volcano looms 3726m over island and it’s possible to see it from nearly everywhere on a clear day. At the time of writing, the lake and summit of the mountain are still closed due to the earthquake last year but it’s possible to hike to the rim of the crater and camp overnight. Check out our full guide for everything you need to know.
The north is also home to some of the most famous waterfalls on the island. We visited Tiu Kelep and Sendang Gile in Senaru, which are right in town and easy to get to, and are both epic! There are tons of waterfalls all over Lombok, so if you have some extra time ask your homestay or look up “Air Terjun” (waterfall in Indonesian) on Google Maps and take your pick! Tiu Teja and Tiu Sekeper in particular look really cool and are halfway in between the Bangsal ferry terminal and Senaru.
Sembalun in the northeast is home to some big and colorful rice fields. There are several viewpoints that overlook the entire valley where you can see the fields, the town, and the volcano in the background. We hiked Bukit Pergasingan and it was tough but worth it! You can also check out Bukit Selong or Bukit Tangkok for a quicker and easier visit.
It’s possible to base yourself in Sembalun and start the Rinjani trek from there as well, but if you choose to stay in Senaru it’s about an hour on a scooter, or you can ask your driver to make a pit stop on the way to Kuta.
What to do in South Lombok
The south coast is home to many of Lombok’s most beautiful beaches. Like the waterfalls on the island, there are a seemingly endless number of beaches ranging from established ones with restaurants and beach chairs for rent to strips of sand a mile long that look like they’ve never been touched by a human. It’s worth renting a scooter and whizzing down the coast in search of your own little slice of paradise. Two of our favorites were Tanjung Aan and Mawi beach, both a short scooter ride from Kuta!
If you’re a surfer, or interested in learning, Lombok is known to have as good of surfing as Bali but without the crowds! At pretty much every beach, you can find board rental for around 50k for 2 hours, an instructor if you need, or a boat to take you out to the break.
Between the coves and beaches, there are lots of cool little hills you can hike for a view of the beautiful coastline and Indian Ocean. Our favorite one near Kuta was Bukit Merese, which is known to be an awesome spot to watch the sunset. It’s also right next to Tanjun Aan beach! Check out the full guide for more details.
In between Mt. Rinjani and the south coast, you have lots more amazing waterfalls to explore! The most famous ones are Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu, a little over an hour north of Kuta. There’s an 11m cliff jump and tons of exploring to be done! This is probably easiest done as another stop on your journey south but it’s also not too bad of a trip from Kuta on a scooter. If you would prefer not to drive yourself, you can also easily hire a driver and guide in Kuta for around 500k IDR per person (negotiable as always).
Last but not least, there are tons of islands to explore along the coast. Everyone has heard of the 3 Gili Islands in the north, a popular party and relaxation destination, but not many people know that there are actually more than 50 Gilis around Lombok in total! You can explore these “Secret Gilis” on an island hopping trip where you’ll spend your day lounging on private islands and snorkeling among the amazing marine life.
Where to stay in Lombok
As mentioned above, we’d recommend for most people to split their time between the north and the south of Lombok. In the north, you have the choice between Senaru and Sembalun. Your decision on where to stay should mainly be based on your preference for trekking Mt. Rinjani. The Senaru route is a steeper climb, but much of the path is through a shady forest. Senaru is also closer to the ferry, but if you’re planning on visiting both towns it probably doesn't make a huge difference.
Blue Mountain Cottage: we ended up staying here mostly on accident - we had to book our accommodation less than an hour before leaving for Lombok due to some issues with picking up our passports from immigration. Blue Mountain was the cheapest place still available but it ended up being pretty nice! For a grand total of $11 per night including breakfast, we were very comfortable despite the lack of fan/AC/hot water. The family running the homestay was super nice and were able to organize our trek and scooter rental as well.
Rudy Trekker: if you’re looking for a slightly more comfortable experience, this is the place to stay. The trek organized by the team at Rudy includes camping chairs and tables for your meals and campsite (versus sitting on a tarp), which makes a huge difference after hiking for 7 hours straight uphill!
Chemel Homestay: we stayed here in Kuta for 6 nights. On a side street off the main road in Kuta, it’s a breeze to get to the restaurants and shops in the area. Our room was $8 per night, including breakfast, and we rented a scooter for 50k IDR ($3.50) per day.
Rawa Lombok: trendy rooms and a beautiful rooftop pool just steps from the beach.
Harmony Villas: private bungalows and floating breakfast. Can you imagine a more perfect place to stay?
How to get to Lombok
The most common ways to get to Lombok are via plane and via ferry from Bali or the Gili islands.
The airport (Lombok Praya, LOP) is an international airport and you can find flights from most places in Asia. There are extremely cheap domestic flights (starting under $15 USD) so depending where you’re coming from that might be the most cost effective mode of transportation!
If you take a ferry, you will most likely arrive at Bangsal ferry terminal in the northwest of the island. The ferry terminal is close to Sengiggi and Mataram and is 1.5-2 hours from Kuta in the south and Senaru in the north. We typically use balifastboats.com to book our ferries online, although the price is usually slightly more expensive than booking in person at a travel agency or your homestay. They offer free pickup and drop off in Bali but not on the Lombok side, which can save quite a bit of money so be sure to inquire when you’re booking!
Getting around Lombok
The easiest and most comfortable way to get around Lombok is via car. It’s possible to ride a scooter if you’d like to save some money, but the distances are relatively long and the roads are windy so we chose not to. In addition, the cost of pick up and/or drop off is often included in the price of a Rinjani trek package, which is quite convenient for organizing your trip.
In any case, you can book your transportation through your trekking company or homestay if you book online, or find transportation once you arrive in Lombok. When we got off the ferry in Bangsal, there were many trekking and tour companies waiting to help people book a homestay, Rinjani trek, or transfer. I’m guessing it’s possible to find lower prices on most of those things if you don’t get herded into an office like we did. We paid 250k IDR ($18 USD) per person for transfer from Bangsal to Senaru and only 100k ($7) per person from Kuta back to Bangsal.
Once you arrive, you’ll be able to rent a motorbike to explore the area. Prices range from 50-100k IDR ($3.50-7) per day. In our experience, the roads were fairly smooth and uncrowded, although there was a lot of construction happening as a result of the earthquake.
Have you been to Lombok, or are you planning to? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!