Have you heard of the “New Bali” of Indonesia? No? Well, then, welcome to Lombok Island. Located to the east of actual Bali island, Lombok has is a quieter cousin of this famous tourist destination of Indonesia. With its own unique culture, stunning beaches, clear waters, green forests, pristine waterfalls and traditional arts, Lombok has almost everything that you find in Bali. And all without the crowds!!! Now if that is not tempting enough, not sure what is. It’s time you read this ultimate Lombok Travel Guide based on my experience. Filled with travel tips for this island, it takes you through the top things to do in Lombok.
- 1 About Lombok Island, Indonesia
- 2 When it the best time to visit Lombok?
- 3 How to get to Lombok?
- 4 Where to stay in Lombok?
- 5 Things to do in Lombok
- 5.1 South Lombok Attractions
- 5.2 Central Lombok
- 5.3 West Lombok
- 5.4 North Lombok
- 5.5 East Lombok
About Lombok Island, Indonesia
As per the political divisions of Indonesia, Lombok is a part of the West Nusa Tenggara province. It is separated from Bali by the Lombok Strait while it has the Sumbawa island to its east. It is roughly the same size as Bali – approximately 4700 sq km.
The earliest history of Lombok island can be traced back to the settlement of the Sasak tribe. The neighboring Bali kingdom overthrew the local Sasak prince and took control of Lombok in the 17th century. The locals were quite unhappy with the rule and with the help of the Dutch in the 1890s ousted the Balinese king. However, things got worse for the Sasak people with the Dutch loading them with taxes and oppressing them. The Dutch rule ended with the Japanese invasion during World War II. The Japanese occupied some parts of the Lombok island.
Post the end of the war, the island became a part of Independent Indonesia. Besides being home to the Sasak tribe, the island is also, known for one of Indonesia’s largest peaks – Mount Rinjani. The mountain is an active volcano that has erupted quite a few times – the latest being in 2015. The island was also, affected by an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 in 2018. Thankfully, the island is now recovering from the aftermath of the last earthquake. With its natural beauty and plethora of activities, Lombok has become an unmissable attraction of Indonesia.
When it the best time to visit Lombok?
Lombok is great throughout the year. There are two major seasons in Lombok – the Dry and the Wet season. The dry season starts from April and goes on till October while the rest of the year is supposedly the wet season. However, the rains in Lombok are not as heavy as in Bali. Hence, the wet season too, can be a good time to visit the island. The peak tourist season starts in April and goes on till October.
Bau Nyale Festival
Lombok hosts an annual fishing festival called Bau Nyale Festival. The same takes place in either February or March. It might be a good idea to catch this unique fiesta if you are planning your dates for Lombok.
Bau refers to the term catch and Nyale is a type of sea worm found in and around Kuta beach in Lombok. Legend has it that there was once a beautiful princess called Mandalika. She was so stunning that she had a flock of princes wanting to marry her. Her father – King Sed – decided to have a contest where the princes would have to fight each other and the last man standing would win her hand in marriage. The princess was not against this violence and chose to end her life by drowning herself on Seger beach.
However, before she did so, she promised to return every year 20th day of the 10th month of the Sasak calendar. It is believed that the rare sea worms – Nyale – are a reincarnation of Princess Mandalika as even these sea worms are seen once a year. The festival has people attempting to catch these worms in a bid to find the princess. Belief has it that anyone who catches these worms will be favored by Lady Luck. Upon consumption, women will become more beautiful like the Princess herself while the men would become healthier. If buried in the fields, the worms promise a good yield.
The festival is not just about catching the worms but has plenty of stalls and events to keep you entertained. From cooking contests to Sasak dances like Peresean are showcased in the festival. Visiting Lombok during this festival is definitely advisable.
Peresan dance involves a stick fight between two people. The dance is done to the tune of the local Sasak instruments and is umpired by a referee. Typically the contest ends with the first draw of blood but today, that isn’t the criteria. If you miss the Bau Nyale Festival, you can still witness this dance by visiting one of the Sasak Villages. Check out this blog post to read more about this dance and the Sasak Villages.
How to get to Lombok?
- You can arrive directly to this island by an international flight. There are plenty of airlines that fly you directly from Malaysia and Singapore. Alternately, you can get in here within 25 minutes from Bali. I flew Malindo Air from India to Bali and then took, Lion Air to get to Lombok.
- Fast boats are another good option to get to Lombok from Bali. There are daily departures from either Padang Bai. In fact, you can use this link to book one online. This deal offers you a free pick-up from your hotel in Bali.
- Public ferries too, are available for your transfer from Bali to Lombok. There are scheduled departures from Padang Bai for the same.
Where to stay in Lombok?
Your decision on where to book your accommodation in Lombok will depend on what you wish to do. Or rather, how you plan your Lombok itinerary. You can, in fact, book multiple hotels in Lombok and stay in different parts of Lombok as I did.
- When in South Lombok, look for beachside properties around Kuta beach. The Novotel Lombok Resorts and Villas is a good choice for those looking for luxury stays. The property is right on the beach – in fact, close to the Seggar beach. It is great for families with kids as it has tons of activities to keep you occupied. Check the rates for the same here and use the same link to book your stay.
- In West Lombok, we stayed in Sengiggi in Holiday Resort Lombok. Again, this is a beautiful beach-side property – a little less luxurious than Novotel. The rooms were comfortable but required a bit of maintenance. However, the breakfast spread was just amazing. On the plus side, you get a lovely sunset experience here, especially on a clear day when you get to see Mount Agung on Bali across that sea. This link takes you to the booking site for this hotel. Alternately, you can click through this link for other options in Mataram and Sengiggi.
- This website link will take you to the top stay options in North Lombok. This is great if you are heading out for the hike up Mount Rinjani.
Things to do in Lombok
As is my usual crib – time was short in Lombok to have experienced it all. However, over my stay, I covered quite a few Lombok attractions. These were spread across South, Central and West Lombok. While I have added these to my suggestions for your Lombok itinerary, I have also shared attractions from the rest of the island. I hope to get to those upon my next trip (fingers crossed!) but maybe, you could get to them this time.
South Lombok Attractions
Discover Kuta Beach
Clear blue waters and endless stretches of white sands that are broken only by the pretty rocky outcrops and enhanced by the waves splashing onto them. If this sounds dreamy that put Kuta Beach onto your Lombok itinerary. Unlike its namesake in Bali, this beach is devoid of crowds but is enjoyed by surfers and swimmers. The beach is also, the venue for the famous Bau Nyale festival.
It is on one part of this beach that the Novotel Lombok Resorts and Villas are located. Besides the beach swings on the shore, I loved my early morning walks. The low tide revealed lone mangroves and freestanding rocks – making it perfect for some landscape photography. Even in the parts away from the resort beach, you can perch yourself on a rock and watch the locals having a blast jumping in to make a splash in those clear warm waters. You will also, find a lot of hawkers here selling you some local shawls and scarves.
In the main Mandalika area, remember to visit some of the cafes close to the sea for some yummy Indonesian food. We sampled some eats at the Segara Anak Restuarant.
Here is a fun thing to do in Lombok. Sign up for surfing lessons and along with the same, you get a chance to visit the Sasak village. The booking does not cost you anything additional but helps me keep this site going.
Experience Sunset over Merese Hill & Tanjung Aan
They say that the best viewpoint in Lombok is atop Bukit Merese. Having climbed up the same, I cannot but endorse this. The hill juts out right into the sea leaving you stunned at the two beaches on either side. One side is termed as King Beach and the other is the Queen beach. The hike to the top is an easy one. It takes one around 10 mins to reach the first level and maybe, another 10 minutes to reach the next one. Once up there, perch yourself onto one of the rocks and get ready for a kaleidoscopic show of colors.
It was quite mesmerizing to see the way the water mirrored the colors of the sky. The sea kept up with the change from bright orange to pale pink and finally purple. Even with such dynamic changes, I could still see the coral reefs under the water. So, just imagine how clear the water is.
And to experience the water, all you have to do is stroll down to the adjoining Tanjung Aam beach. In the Mandalika area, besides Kuta beach, this is the beach you need to visit. Maybe before you hike up Merese Hill, you can spend some time at the beach. It is a perfect one for a swim or a quick snorkel.
To get to Merese hill or Tanjung Aan beach, you need to hire a car or a two-wheeler. The drive to these places is as beautiful as the place itself. It takes you past Mangrove forests and pretty rice fields.
One of the other places in Indonesia that I recall for its scintillating views is Padar Island. The view from the island gets you a glimpse of three beaches – each with a different color. Pink, white and black and they are so distinct. Don’t just believe me by words. Take a look by clicking through this.
Explore the Sasak Ende Village
Your visit to Lombok will not be complete unless you have devoured the true flavor of the island. A cultural experience at one of the Sasak villages is what I had in mind. Visit the one in Ende or Sade, just 15 minutes from the airport and enjoy talking to the people there. Understand their traditions and visit their homes while they treat you to some of their amazing dances like the Peresean. You will find yourself appreciating the island better when you know the people who make it so beautiful. To know more about my visit to the Sasak village, you can just click through this blogpost.
Bonus – Head out to Semeti Beach
This one is a bonus and on my to-do list as I could not get to it on this trip. However, I am mesmerized by the secluded beach with white sands and the rock formations around the place. I bet, it will be a day well spent.
Learn how to weave at the Sukarara Village
Sukarara is another Sasak village but one where you can learn the Sasak traditional art of weaving. Sure you can even see it in the Sasak Ende Village, but it is a more detailed tour in Sukarara. Weaving is practiced primarily by women. In fact, they cannot get married unless they have learned this form of art. In the Sukarara village, you will see them working on the traditional wooden loom. It is quite fascinating to see how the myriads of colored threads are woven together to form a gorgeous design by these women.
Songket and Ikat are the two main handloom designs that you will find in Lombok. A guide will explain the entire process of weaving to you and after that you can try your hand on a few of these looms. No – you will not be able to complete an entire cloth for a typical design can take anything between 3 – 6 weeks. However, you will learn to appreciate how intricate and detailed the process is. It requires a bit of computation to know which thread goes in where and how the right amount of pressure is required to bind them together.
Sukarara is also, an opportunity for the shopaholics to buy the traditional shawls and scarfs in Lombok. The prices are quite reasonable and the choice great. You can even dress up like a local and get yourself clicked while in the village.
Hike down to the Benang Kelambu Waterfalls
The Benang Kelambu waterfalls along with its sister cascade – Benang Stokel- are a great way to experience the green forests of Lombok. Set in the Mount Rinjani geological park, these waterfalls emerge out of nowhere and create a refreshing landscape. You can not just enjoy the views but actually cool off under these natural showers. Check out my blog post on the Benang Kelambu Waterfalls for a preview of the fun you can expect to have here. Also, the same post tells you the various travel tips and suggestions on how to get to Benang Kelambu.
Bonus – Go underground to the Bangkang Caves
The Bangkang Caves are a bit off the usual tourist attractions of Lombok. It is something that I missed but came across through a few of my fellow bloggers’ posts. The caves offer you a lovely play of light and shadow and that is something I want to see for myself. I hope to get to it when I get lucky with Lombok again.
Explore the city of Mataram
Mataram is the capital of Lombok and is quite a bustling city. I could not spend more time exploring it but the little that I glimpsed was enough for it to go on this list of things to see in Lombok. The city is filled with heritage landmarks that bring out the unique blend of cultures. At one end, you have Hindu temples built by the Balinese kings like the Taman Narmada and the Pura Meru. On the other end, you have the most gorgeous mosque in the Islamic center that is bound to make you stop and gasp in awe. Add to this mix, a set of gorgeous beaches like the Batu Payung beach. I am sure that is enough for you to consider adding this to your Lombok list of attractions.
Try your hand at Pottery in the Banyumulak Village
Pottery done without a wheel? Ever heard of it? Well, you can actually see it in the Banyumulak village, near Mataram city. The potters here mould the local clay to create new shapes that you will love to take home with you. From pretty turtles to pen stands and tissue holders, you can find almost anything here. The best part of it all, you can create your own masterpiece. If you are not keen on getting your hands dirty, then well, just head to the shop on the premises and buy your heart out.
Shop at Sasaku Oleh Oleh
The souvenir shops in Lombok or for that instance, even in Bali are termed as Oleh Oleh. There are plenty of them around the island. Sasaku Oleh Oleh is the one that I visited. The shop has almost every possible souvenir that you might want to take at reasonable prices. The quality of the merchandise is fairly good – in fact, a little better than what you get on the streets.
Before you get lost in the lines of T-shirts, hats or the racks of curios and magnets, head over to the Pearl section. Lombok is famous for its pearls and there is no better place to find the prettiest jewelry that you will want to buy – either for yourself or for your loved ones.
The shop accepts credit cards and hence, that makes it even more convenient.
Sun, Sand & Surf on Sengiggi Beach
On the West Coast of Lombok, Sengiggi Beach is possibly the most popular shore. Not surprising given its white soft sands and waves that every surfer loves to ride on. Its beautiful reefs are perfect for snorkelers while the warm tropical water makes is a pleasure for swimmers. Sengiggi beach also, offers other beach activities like canoeing, jet skiing and paragliding.
Sure you can lounge around the entire day on this beach but ensure that you witness at least one sunset on it. On a good clear day, you might even sight the famous Mount Agung of Bali across the Lombok Strait.
Go Island Hopping to the Gilis
Whether you stay overnight or go for a day trip, the Gili Islands tour is unmissable when in Lombok. Check this post out for a detailed guide on Gili Islands. It shares information on when to go, where to stay, how to get there and what are the various activities around Gili Islands. It largely covers the three famous Gili islands – Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan along with suggested activities on each of the islands. The snorkeling and diving around the islands is a must-do for its natural marine treasure. In addition to that, the sea-side parties, the sea swings at sunset and the slow pace of life is just what will make your Lombok holiday perfect.
The three Gili islands that I mention above are not the only Gilis around Lombok. In fact, there are many other islands (around 25 I think) that you can visit from Lombok. One such tour is called the Secret Gilis Tour. Now that is something I wait to unravel – maybe when luck gets me to Lombok again!
Picnic at the Malimbu Hills
Malimbu hills are a series of cliffs bordering some really divine beaches. I did not get an opportunity to get down to the beaches. I did, however, get the views from Malimbu Hills en route to the harbor for my boat to Gili islands. The place seemed perfect for sundown too – especially since it did give us a view of Mount Agung. The green cover near the beach does seem like a perfect shade for a noon siesta – though our guide did warn us that there are plenty of monkeys hanging out too 😉
Hike up Mount Rinjani
A trek to Mount Rinjani is a 2 – 3 days affair and naturally, with the paucity of time, this is something I had to leave unticked on my Lombok list.The volcanic lake near Mount Rinjani is called Segara Anak and is supposed as blue as one of the crater lakes of an Indonesian landmark – Mount Kelimutu that I had seen a few years back.
Mount Kelimutu does not just have one crater. In fact, this hike is magical for, from its peak, you can see three craters. Each of these crater lakes has a distinct color – as varied as black, blue and green. Don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself through my journey to Mount Kelimutu.
On the way to the mountain, you can stop by and admire the beautiful rice fields that appear like patchworks from a height. The Air Kalak hot springs along the route promise a warm respite for your tired muscles. I hope you guys can live my dream.
Find the Tiu Kelep Waterfalls
The Tiu Kelep Waterfalls are hidden in the jungle around Mount Rinjani. Plummeting down 45 meters, the gushing cascade is a sight to behold. I believe you can even bathe in the pool at its base. You can book this tour online through here. The tour will pick you up from your hotel in Mataram or Sengiggi.
Go over to the Pink Beach
I bet you have seen plenty of white, brown and black sand beaches. If you are in Lombok, you must take the opportunity to drive down and see the pink beach. I am not sure if it is as pink as the one that I saw in Komodo and Flores. Maybe you can check out this post on the Flores Pink Beach, compare what you see and let me know.
If you are keen to see the Pink Beach in Lombok, you might want to book this private day tour. The tour includes a free hotel pick up and stops at Pulau Pasir and Semangko Beach. The booking will not cost you anything additional but will give me the commission to keep this website going.
Well. with that, for now, my list of Lombok attractions is done. You already have the rest of the relevant Lombok travel tips in the first part of this post. So, what are you waiting for? Go on, mark this Lombok Travel Guide with this pin and get booking for your next vacation.
For additional travel tips for Indonesia, please go through this travel guide. It details out information Visas for Indonesia, other places to visit there, what are the currency norms and more.
P.S: I was invited to visit Lombok by Indonesian Tourism Board in association with Malindo Air.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.