An off-the-beaten-track travel guide to Lombok island featuring the best things to do on your trip. Observe an active volcano, take a day trip to magical waterfalls in the jungle and relax on white sandy beaches – that’s Lombok in Indonesia!
Lombok is a volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs and islets dotted around the Indonesian archipelago. It’s often referred to as Bali’s sister island, but I like to call it Indonesia’s adventure island. There is an abundance of incredible things to do in Lombok, offering raw and memorable travel experiences.
After spending some time on this island in the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara, I’ve compiled this huge Lombok travel guide to help you plan your visit. I’ve explained how to get to the island, what to expect, where to stay and, of course, an impressive list of things to do in Lombok!
Best things to do in Lombok
Use this interactive map to find out where the 20 must-do things in Lombok listed in the article below are located.
Take short hikes to magnificent waterfalls
A short hike through the beautiful Indonesian jungle to unspoilt waterfalls and natural lagoons is a refreshing change from the classic beach holiday in Kuta.
Sendang Gile waterfall
The Sendang Gile waterfall is located near the village of Senaru. It lies at the foot of the magnificent Mount Rinjani. As you begin the hike, you’ll notice that the air temperature drops and the peaceful surroundings relax you. This short hike takes around 10-20 minutes and is all downhill to the waterfall. The path itself is clearly signposted and well laid out with paths, handrails and steps.
Tiu Kelep waterfall
Tiu Kelep waterfall is about 40 minutes from Sindang Gile waterfall (which you reach first). This trek involves crossing a few small rivers. Although the water is shallow, the rocks are quite slippery, making it an adrenalin-fuelled experience.
The Tiu Kelep waterfall is around 50 metres high and has magnificent pools in which you can bathe at the foot of the falls. Bear in mind that the water is quite cold.
There is a charge to enter the area, which is done at the large gates at the start of the trek. It is also possible to obtain a guide for your trek, which is a good idea if you are unsure about crossing a river.
Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls
The Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls, highlights of central Lombok, are another set of waterfalls that are well worth the time and money. Although located in the same geopark, these two waterfalls are very different.
Benang Kelambu is a curtain of flowing water and dense jungle plants. The other, Benang Stokel, is a set of three waterfalls plunging into a wide jungle clearing.
Mangku Sakti waterfall
Mangku Sakti Waterfall is located in the Sebamalon area, west of Lombok Island, and is considered one of the most beautiful places to visit while on the island. The water there tends to be turquoise because it contains sulfur, so you will get a refreshing experience when swimming in it.
The best part is that you can climb inside and behind the waterfall, in a small rocky grotto!
Take up the challenge of climbing Mount Rinjani
The majestic Mount Rinjani is one of most popular tourist destinations in Lombok. The climb to the top of the volcano at an altitude of over 3,700 metres can take between 2 and 3 days, including the descent depending on your level of fitness.
Here is the programme for a typical visit to Rinjani:
Normally, the programme is as follows: on the first day, you climb up to the crater lake and camp on the black sand beach. Rest here and sleep early so you can wake up at 1am to climb to the summit and be there in time for sunrise. After descending from the summit, you can rest and sleep on the rim of the crater. On the third day, you make the final descent.
All your efforts will be rewarded with these views from the summit at sunrise.
You will need to buy a special permit in advance if you wish to climb the mountain. This costs USD 10 and can be obtained from the Mataram police office.
Several tour operators offer guided excursions to the summit of Mount Rinjani. Prices start from €150 per person.
If you’d like to climb Mount Rinjani on your own, there are also a number of trails leading to the summit that are accessible without a permit or guide.
Enjoy superb, picturesque beaches
Kuta (not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta Beach – there’s one in Lombok too!) is the main tourist area in southern Lombok. The small tourist village is set along the beach, with restaurants, hotels and hostels, bars, souvenir shops and, of course, tour and dive booking offices.
The vibe here is surfing – and many of the accommodations offer cheap options. There are a few smaller, more upmarket hotels, as well as a resort.
If you’re looking for a slightly more relaxed surfing destination than Kuta Beach in Bali, Kuta Beach is a great place to stay and the nearby beaches are a great option for swimming and surfing.
Kuta Beach itself, for swimming, relaxing and photography, is not the best compared to nearby beaches such as Selong Belanak Beach (one of my all-time favourite beaches) and Mawun Beach. Both of these beaches are a short drive from Kuta Beach.
Selong Belanak Beach
Selong Belanak Beach is a magnificent beach for relaxing, swimming or learning to surf. The water is clear, warm and calm enough for children.
The bright greens and blues of the water, the clean, white, flat beach and the mountain backdrop make this a beautiful destination.
There are a handful of small local seaside restaurants, as well as a few bars, umbrellas and beach chairs for hire.
Mawun Beach is also very close to Kuta Beach, about 60 km away from the city of Mataram. The beach is popular with surfers, who generally congregate in the far corner of the bay. The water here is deeper and the beach itself is rather steep. This beach is also smaller and has fewer local snack shops.
Looking for the perfect spot for an Instagrammable shot? Discover the famous sandy beach with a unique pink colour located in the south-east corner of Lombok, on the Ekas peninsula.
A visit to Pink Beach will allow you to witness a rare phenomenon that only exists in certain parts of the world. The other pink beach is in Komodo, but you don’t have to go that far to see one!
The water at Pink Beach Lombok is crystal-clear, and there are also some pretty little rocks jumping out.
It takes over an hour to get to this beach from Kuta Lombok, which means that a visit will probably take a whole day. Nevertheless, if you have the time, I’d advise you to make the effort. Even without mentioning the pink sand, this part of Lombok is one of the most picturesque in terms of coastal scenery.
When in Lombok, don’t miss out on Senggigi. This seaside resort, lined with coconut palms and fine sandy beaches, is ideal for a relaxing break. Senggigi Beach, with its 13 km of coastline and turquoise waters, is popular throughout Asia. Because of its size, it offers plenty of space to find a quiet spot and enjoy the beauty between sky and sand. A must-see during your stay!
To make the most of Lombok’s natural beauty, come and discover Belongas bay (sometimes written as “Blongas bay” or “teluk Belongas” in Bahasa). This bay is ideal for those seeking tranquillity, as it is located in a fairly isolated area. But once you’re on the beach, you’ll be breathless.
The bay lies between small hills, but is still close enough to reach. The road to it is also winding, and it takes about 15 minutes to descend the steep hill to reach the beach in this bay.
The beach at Belongas Bay is not entirely covered in soft white sand, but the waves are calm and the water is clear. Along this Lombok beach, there are small dunes where you can relax under palm trees, and there are also buildings for workers to rest and keep their work equipment.
Visit traditional villages
Senaru traditional village is home to the Sasak people. You can walk around the village, visit the interiors of the traditionally-built houses and learn about the Sasak community and the different uses of buildings in a village.
Senaru is also the main entrance (and most popular starting point) for Gunung Rinjani National Park, Indonesia’s second highest peak. If you’re planning a trek, the Rinjani Trek Centre is located next to the traditional village.
Sade Traditional Weaving Village
An hour’s drive from the town of Mataram and half an hour from Lombok airport is Sade. It is a small hamlet in the village of Rembitan in central Lombok. The village of Sade has a traditional village atmosphere. Traditional dwellings, village buildings and outdoor areas are still clearly in use, with cows and goats tethered to trees and ducks in handmade wooden pens.
Life as it has been for centuries still exists in this village. Traditional customs are still respected. Young girls in the village of Sade must learn to weave clothes from an early age. Once they know how to weave, they can marry and must make traditional clothes for themselves, their husbands and their mothers-in-law.
Interestingly, a traditional Sasak house is made of clay and cow dung. The cow dung is used to keep mosquitoes away. However, only 10% of Lombok’s inhabitants still live in such Sasak houses.
There is a shop in the village (of course) that sells sarongs, scarves, pillowcases and a range of other traditionally woven items. Even if you don’t want to buy souvenirs, it’s worth taking a look at the beautiful colours, patterns and designs.
Discover the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are one of Lombok’s most popular destinations for backpackers. The Gili Islands are made up of three small islands, and thanks to companies such as Blue Water Express offering direct transfers from Bali, this destination welcomes thousands of travellers every year.
Gili Air Lombok
Gili Air is Lombok’s closest island to the mainland. The pace here is very relaxed and accommodation ranges from hotels to homestays for a modest price. The general atmosphere is one of relaxation – you can snorkel or swim during the day and enjoy the few local restaurants, which offer mainly barbecue-style seafood menus. There are also a few bars.
Gili Meno Lombok
Gili Meno is the central island of the three, the least developed and the quietest. It’s ideal if you’re looking for great swimming and snorkelling beaches, deserted beaches and great diving nearby. There are a few small, upmarket hotels on the island, as well as plenty of beach bungalows for budget travellers who love nature.
Gili Trawangan Lombok
Gili Trawangan (or Gili T as it’s commonly known) is the most famous island in the group. It lies just 10 minutes by speedboat from the Lombok mainland. The island is a booming tourist destination, with a plethora of upmarket restaurants, villas and hotels springing up in recent years.
However, Gili T still plays host to a large number of backpackers who spend their days diving, snorkelling or relaxing in the many bars on a very limited budget. Because of Gili T’s popularity and development, it’s the island to choose if you want to stay somewhere with more facilities, tours, services and activities.
Discover the “secret” Gili islands
Do you want to live to the rhythm of the island, but are looking for activities in Lombok that are a little more off the beaten gringo track? The ‘secret’ Gili Islands, in southern Lombok, Indonesia, will be your answer.
Many people discover on arrival that Lombok actually has several islands around its coast. The three I recommend are located off the tranquil coast of Sekotong.
Several tours leave from Kuta beach, or you can make your own way to Sekotong and embark on a joint excursion to Gili Kedis, Gili Nanggu and Gili Sudak.
Visit Pura Lingsar
Lombok’s most important religious site, the Lingsar temple is a symbol of unity between the island’s many faiths. Built by Balinese Hindus in 1714, the northern part of Lingsar is devoted to Hindu worship. In the southern part, the Sasak people, originally from Lombok, practise Wetu Telu. Wetu Telu is a multi-faceted religion, with elements of Islam and no small number of religious commandments, as well as bits of Hinduism and animist practices.
You may be wondering why there are eggs for sale in the temple grounds. They’re not for food-hungry visitors, but for eels. The Wetu Telu section of the temple houses a pool of sacred eels, believed to represent the Hindu god Vishnu. Offer them a boiled meal and they will bless you with sacred protection from harm.
The Perang Topat temple festival is held in Lingsar in mid-December. Don’t miss it if you’re travelling to Lombok at this time. The festivities consist of an elaborate costume parade, followed by a mock battle between Hindus and Wetu Telu, in which they vent their unresolved frustrations by throwing sticky rice balls at each other.
Note: you will need to wear a sarong to enter the temple. If you forget yours, you can hire one at the entrance. You can walk around outside the temple without a dress code.
Pura Batu Bolong
The Pura Batu Bolong temple is one of the ancient Hindu temples you can visit on the island of Lombok, near the Senggigi region. The temple overlooks the sea from the top of a small hill. You can visit during Hindu festivals to experience Hindu culture up close and join in the colourful celebrations. Interestingly, there is a naturally perforated rock underneath, hence the name Batu Bolong, which literally means rock with a hole.
Diving or snorkelling
Lombok – the jewel of Indonesia is a must for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Its crystal-clear waters are home to breathtaking biodiversity: colourful coral, tropical fish and unique underwater sites. The island’s remoteness from crowded tourist destinations makes it a peaceful haven for those looking to immerse themselves in unspoilt nature. Lombok’s white sandy beaches are the ideal starting point for exploring its underwater treasures. In Lombok, diving means embracing the marvellous symphony of marine life.
One of the uniqueness of the island is better known as “The Island of a Thousand Mosques” because it has many mosques scattered in various areas of this island. These mosques also have unique and interesting architecture, such as the Bayan Beleq Mosque which is one of the oldest mosques in Lombok and has a roof shaped like a buffalo horn.
The number of mosques goes far beyond the nickname itself. Of the more than 8,000 mosques in Lombok, some of them have a long history like the Songak Mosque, the Karang Bayan Mosque, the Rambitan Mosque, and the Salut Ancient Mosque.
Best time to visit Lombok island
High season: April to September is the dry season on Lombok, and rainy days are rare. You can enjoy the pristine beaches and outdoor activities without worrying about the weather.
Low season: October to March is the rainy season on Lombok and there are more rainy days. However, you can discover the island without the crowds and enjoy good surfing conditions during this period.
How many days does it take to explore Lombok?
You could honestly spend a month here without seeing half the waterfalls or hidden beaches. However, most travellers don’t have a full month. However, 10 days here seems about right to be able to do most of the must-sees mentioned earlier in this article. The minimum number of days I would visit Lombok is 5 days. The main thing to consider is the different areas of Lombok you want to visit.
If you want to hike Mount Rinjani, add three days to your itinerary straight away.
How to get to Lombok
Getting to Lombok by Plane
Flying from Bali to Lombok is probably the quickest and cheapest way to get to Lombok. The flight takes just 30 minutes and fares start at around USD 35 one-way. Lombok is also well connected to Jakarta and some international destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Air Asia’s hub, and Singapore, Scoot’s hub.
You can buy your tickets directly from the airline counters at airports if you’re a spontaneous traveller, or check the Garuda Airlines, Lion Air and Air Asia websites online.
Once you’ve arrived to get from the airport to the town of Kuta, for example, the only option is to take a taxi, which costs around IDR 150k (€9).
Coming to Lombok by boat
If you want to take to the sea and enjoy a slower boat journey to Lombok, you can choose between slow-moving public ferries and fast boats.
Public ferries leave the port of Padang Bai (in Bali) every hour and arrive at the port of Lembar (Lombok) around 4 to 5 hours later. The trip costs around IDR 50K (€3) one way.
Many companies now offer fast boat services between Bali and Lombok. BlueWater Express departs daily from Padang Bai port and Serangan (Benoa port). If you are returning to Bali, your fare includes a free transfer to your hotel. The average one-way fare is USD 32.
Gili Getaway also offers fast boats between the port of Serangan (Bali) and Lombok. A one-way ticket costs IDR 750K (€50) and a return ticket IDR 1,500K.
From the Gili Islands to Lombok
It only takes 10 to 15 minutes by boat to get from the Gili Islands to Lombok. You can use one of the many speedboat operators or the cheaper public boat.
Getting around Lombok
There is no public transport on the island of Lombok and unlike Bali, popular transport apps such as Gojek and Grab are not available. However, scooter hire and taxis (or private drivers) are commonly used to get around. Scooter hire costs between IDR 50,000 and IDR 100,000 per day.
West Lombok (Bangsal, Lembar, Mataram, Tanjung, Senggigi): This is the administrative centre and home to the port of Lembar, which is the gateway to the Gili Islands and Bali.
North Lombok (Mount Rinjani, Senaru): Here you’ll find the famous Mount Rinjani hiking trail and magnificent waterfalls.
Central and East Lombok (Praya, Labuhan Lombok, Selong, Tetebatu): In this region you’ll find quiet villages, pristine beaches and ferry departures to Sumbawa and Flores.
South Lombok (Kuta, Sekotong, Tanjung Aan): Kuta is the centre of Lombok and this area is the most developed. Here you’ll find white sandy beaches, cool cafés and epic surf.
Gili Islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan): These tiny islands are located on the west coast. They are renowned for their spectacular diving and snorkelling sites, as well as their vibrant nightlife.
Where to stay in Lombok
Although geographically about the same size as Bali, Lombok has only a few major tourist centres. On the main island, tourists generally stay in Kuta or Senggigi. The most popular tourist spot is on the Gili Islands. There is no set answer to the question of where is the best place to book your hotels in Lombok, as it depends on your location and budget.
For a first trip
Kuta is in the south of Lombok and is one of the most popular areas of Lombok. In Kuta, the sand is white, the water is clear and the surf is good. And that’s it! The main activities in Kuta are enjoying the beach and the sun, and taking advantage of some of the best waves to be found in Indonesia.
For budget hotels
Mataram is the largest town on Lombok island but few tourists stop here for more than an hour or two. As a result, accommodation here is generally cheaper than in other tourist destinations on the island.
Going out and enjoying the nightlife
Senggigi is Lombok’s most popular district. Located in the north-west of the island, it is a short distance from the main town of Mataram, but offers a very different landscape.
To enjoy the coolest destination
Gili Air is a small island off Lombok. It takes 15 minutes to reach the island by boat from Lombok. Walkers can circumnavigate the island in around 2.5 hours.
Find hotels in Lombok for families
Tanjung is a tourist village in the north of Lombok, opposite the Gili Islands. It is one of the most upmarket areas of Lombok and, apart from a few resorts here and there, the area remains largely unspoilt.
Travel guide to Lombok: What to eat?
Lombok has its own flavours that you can only taste here. The local restaurant in Indonesia is called ‘warung’ and you can find these dishes in any warung. If you like local cuisine, here are a few dishes that are well worth trying!
- Ayam Taliwang: grilled chicken served with rice and vegetables, usually spinach.
- Nasi Balap Puyung: steamed rice served with various accompaniments such as shredded chicken cooked with chilli, soya beans or prawns.
- Sate Bulayak: beef kebabs served with a peanut or curry sauce.
- Bebalung: soup made with beef and herbs such as chilli, garlic, onion, galanga and turmeric.
- Sate Rembiga: beef skewers marinated in sweet soy sauce, garlic and brown sugar.
- Sate Pusut: spicy minced beef served with grated coconut.
Culture, customs and traditions in Lombok
Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country and Lombok is no exception. Don’t be surprised to hear prayers coming from the mosque five times a day. When entering a mosque, men and women must wear clothes that cover their legs and arms, and women must also cover their hair with a headscarf. A man should never shake hands with a Muslim woman unless she offers it to him first, and this can be misinterpreted if you have a frown on your face. The people of Lombok are friendly and helpful. It’s important to respect their religion and to look at them with a smiling face.
Let us know you liked this post ????