If you have ever visited the island of Bali, chances you already know it is not what many people expect. That is, of course, if their expectations of Bali include unexplored towns, wild beaches, and unique photography locations. Yes, these days, Bali is well explored. But if your heart is set on a unique Indonesian island, how about a visit to Lombok instead? Lombok, Indonesia is a large island just one hour’s journey from Bali. And here you’ll find so much: great infrastructure and plenty of wilderness, tourist towns, big hotels and unexplored little enclaves where people will stop you on the street to get a picture. Many travelers say Lombok, Indonesia is what Bali used to be twenty years ago. Together, lets the journey to the beautiful island in this complete one week guide to Lombok.
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One Week Itinerary For Lombok, Indonesia
Day 1 – Senggigi:
There are two ways to get to Lombok. The first is by air, from Jakarta. The second is by boat, from Bali. Assuming you are coming by air, the best place to stay on your first night in Lombok is Senggigi, a pleasant little town about halfway between the airport and the trekking town of Senaru. Senggigi is a beachside town known for a slower pace, a few high-end hotels, and a small downtown area. I chose to stay just outside of town at the well-reviewed and tiny Terrace Lombok Bungalow. Located right across the road from a beach club, this little hotel is situated in the middle of an authentic neighborhood.
Wherever you decide to stay, in the evening make your way towards the ocean. Several beach clubs and small restaurants line the water here. Senggigi is famous for spectacular sunsets. Assuming the weather cooperates you might get to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world on your first night in Lombok, Indonesia.
The easiest way to get from the airport to Senggigi is to contact your hotel in advance and ask them to arrange an airport pick up. The ride to Senggigi is about one hour and should cost you around $20 USD.
Day 2 – Drive to Senaru:
Today, begin your adventure in earnest as you hire a driver and make your way towards Lombok’s trekking capital: Senaru. The long, winding road from Senggigi to Senaru runs along the shoreline. Ask your driver to stop along the way as you explore the many lookout points. But the highlight of this journey will come around lunchtime, when you stop in the traditional market located about one hour outside of Senaru.
I was pleasantly surprised when my driver offered to stop here; the market was full of locals but not a tourist in sight. As I wandered the bazaar’s narrow alleyways, I asked some of the sellers for a picture. Its obvious they don’t get many tourists here because the sellers were just as fascinated with me as I was with them. Many asked where I was from and started a conversation to practice their English skills. Keep in mind that in this conservative culture it would be inappropriate to take pictures (especially of women) without seeking their permission first. All I had to do was point to the camera and then say: “Ok?”
In Lombok’s traditional market, as in many places in the world, an open smile and a friendly attitude go a long way.
For more off the beaten path things to do in Indonesia, check out “Wild Orangutan Safari in Borneo.”
Finally, after your check into the hotel in Senaru, explore your last stop of the day: the majestic waterfalls at the foot of Mt. Rinjani National Park. You can go here yourself, but the second waterfall is easier to find with a guide, so I suggest you hire your driver to take you. You’ll find the waterfalls inside a small park, and you’ll have to pay a few dollars to get inside. Although the first waterfall is beautiful, the second is truly impressive. Perhaps the largest waterfall I’ve ever seen, the scale in this picture speaks for itself.
Where to Stay in Senaru:
The best hotel in Senaru is the Rinjani Lodge. This three-star charmer features an infinity pool, outsized rooms, and fantastic customer service.
Day 3 – Start on Mt. Rinjani Trek (Day 1)
Today is the start of the big Mt. Rinjani Trek. This hike, which takes 2 days 1 night will no doubt become one of the highlights of your trip to Lombok. Prepare well by brining proper hiking supplies (see packing list at the bottom). You can book the tour on main street in Senaru, or from your hotel in Senggigi.
The tough Mt. Rinjani hike calls for 1500 m elevation in just one day. Your path will be, almost always, straight up. Luckily the journey is made easier by your porters, the dedicated men who carry all the equipment up the mountain. During the day the porters will take care of all your meals, and at night they will set up camp. The porters carry the tents and sleeping bags, and it’s up to you to carry your own jacket, water, and other necessities.
The journey to the top is hard to describe in words. For a while, you’ll be traversing the jungle; birds singing overhead and sun blissfully hidden by tall trees. But eventually, you’ll come to a clearing and here the sun feels brutal; you’ll find sand under your feet; a few bushes that provide no cover; and the slope that often calls for three points of contact. Persevere and eventually, you will reach the camp and the volcano. You and all your new-found friends (friendships move fast on the trail) will enjoy dinner and sunset with views that must be earned by hard labor.
Do not book a hotel for tonight as you’ll be sleeping at the top of Mt. Rinjani.
Day 4 – Finish Mt. Rinjani Trek (Day 2)
After spending a night in the fresh air, its time to get back down to Senaru. Although you might feel like today should be easier (after all its easier to walk down the mountain than it is to walk up), you might find the early part of the trek challenging. Here, you must make your way down the sandy, slopy path and you must do so without breaking any limbs. This venture is harder than it sounds. Believe it or not, the easiest way down is actually by running. Try to walk and you’ll almost certainly fall, but run in small steps and you’ll maintain balance. Your guide will show you the technique.
Finally, the trek continues, as you work your way back through the jungle and eventually to the base where you started your journey. You’ll likely be back by 3 pm but don’t expect to do much today. Your best bet for the evening is a massage and an evening of relaxation by the pool of your hotel. Don’t forget to stretch, and save yourself the pain of achy muscles.
Day 5 – Move to Kuta Lombok, Indonesia and explore the local beaches
Today you might be a little stiff from yesterday (or very stiff in my case). However, the good news is that you won’t need to do much physical activity today, and you’ll have plenty of time to recover. Ask your hotel to arrange a driver for a transfer to Kuta Lombok, a town about four hours away. Enjoy the ride as your driver takes you over the road that stretches alongside the ocean and into inner Lombok.
Kuta is a beach town located on the island’s south shore, about half an hour from the airport. Although the town is cute and touristy, the beach in Kuta is dirty. Instead of spending time on the Kuta beach, I suggest you go just outside of town and explore some of the beautiful beaches nearby. You can easily rent a scooter in town. Alternatively, use the Grab app to hail a car or a scooter with a driver. For just a few dollars you can arrange a ride to one of the nearby beaches.
Although there are countless beaches in this area, two of the best are the Selong Belanak Beach and Tanjung Ann. Located about 30 minutes out of town (in opposite directions) both Selong and Tanjung offer a wide variety of activities, chairs for rent, lots of restaurants and great people watching. Enjoy the rest of the day as you lounge and take in the waves.
Where to Stay in Kuta:
Novotel Kuta is a beautiful hotel with a private beach, but it is not central to downtown Kuta. Pipe Dream Villas Resort is another great option and is much closer to Kuta’s nightlife and restaurant scene.
Day 6 – Take a surfing lesson in Kuta Lombok
If you are feeling up to it, another great adventure awaits you today. Surfing is not an easy sport to pick up. Fortunately for you, Kuta is the surfing capital of Lombok. You can book a beginner surfer classes in any tourist shop in Kuta, or just show up on a big beach and look for surfer classes to join. Most classes include a bonus photography session so you can preserve the memory of the day you spend on the water.
If you are not feeling up to a surfing lesson today, hang around Kuta or explore more beaches. Kuta is a touristy town with great western-style restaurants and plenty of hotels with pools. You can hang out in virtually any hotel pool as long as you don’t mind paying the small fee.
Day 7 – Leave Lombok
If you measure vacations in experiences and not days, you will probably feel like you’ve been on Lombok for months. Today is your day to leave and luckily you won’t need to travel far. The airport is only 30 minutes from downtown Kuta and depending on your flight you might have a few extra vacation hours in the morning. You can arrange for a car to the airport in your hotel or in any tourist shop on main street. If you are spending longer than a week in Lombok, check out the next section, “More things to do in Lombok.”
More Things to Do in Lombok
In addition to exploring the island, Lombok is a great start off point to explore nearby islands. If you are staying in Lombok for more than one week, consider adding the following multi-day trips to your itinerary.
Option 1: Explore the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are a group of three tiny islands located off Lombok’s east coast. Although it is possible to take a day trip to the islands, it would be better to take several days to explore them. To get to the islands, catch a ferry from Bangsal, Lombok. If you are using my itinerary, the most logical time to visit the islands would be either right before or after the Mt. Rinjani trek.
Gili Air Island
The island closest to Lombok Gili Air is known for a relaxing atmosphere. This Gili is ideal if you are looking for a quiet beach and an atmosphere of luxury, as Gili Air is the home of several high-end beach clubs.
Where to Stay on Gili Air:
PinkCoco Gili Air is a stunning, private beach option on Air.
Gili Trawangan Island
On the opposite extreme from Gili Air, Gilia Trawangan has a well-earned reputation as the party island. With plenty of restaurants, night clubs, and snorkeling options, this is the perfect island for an active vacationer.
Where to Stay on Gili Trawangan:
Gili Eco Villas is a stunning and eco-friendly beach front resort.
Gili Meno Island
The smallest of the three islands, Gili Meno has almost no nightlife and only a few hotels, which means Gili Meno is the perfect island for a very quiet, very secluded few days on the beach.
Where to Stay on Gili Meno:
Karma Reef is a stunning private beach hotel ideal for relaxation or snorkeling.
Option 2: Take a cruise to Komodo
Another option to spend a few extra days in Lombok is the 4 day, 3-night cruise to the Komodo islands. This tour will take you into Komodo National Park, famous for its lizard inhabitants. The cruises to Komodo come in a variety of options but most are inexpensive and not very luxurious. Keep in mind that the Komodo Islands are very popular and attract tourists from both Lombok and Bali. This means that if you are looking for unexplored wilderness you will probably not find it in Komodo. In fact, the Komodo environment is so stressed that the Indonesian government attempted to close the islands to tourists for one year. After pressure from tour operators, the government relented. This tour also starts from Bangsal.
Where to Stay in Bangsal:
Lima Satu Resort is the best hotel in close proximity to Bagsal Harbor and ferry services.
Lombok, Indonesia Packing List
Lombok packing list:
Bring these items for the Mt. Rinjani trek:
- Full-length light hiking pants
- Light rain jacket
- Safari-style hat
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Light backpack
- Bug spray
- Sunblock (coral safe is best if you plan on snorkeling or surfing)
- Hiking socks (2 pairs, one for each day)
- Light puffer jacket
- Long sleeve non-cotton shirt
- Short sleeve non-cotton shirt
- Walking sticks
- First aid kit (the guides do not have one)
Common Questions About Lombok
How to get to Lombok, Indonesia
You can access Lombok by plane or boat. While a ferry from Bali is only supposed to take about 4 to 5 hours it often leaves late and the conditions are not ideal. Due to frequent delays and the uncomfortable ride, I do not recommend you get to Lombok by ferry.
A better option is to catch a plane from Jakarta or Bali. The ride, door to door, is only about one hour from Jakarta and half an hour from Bali. Another great option is a direct flight from Singapore, only a few hours away.
How to get around Lombok, Indonesia
If you need to go far, the easiest way to get around Lombok is by car. You can arrange for a car virtually anytime via your hotel or the app “Grab.” Additionally, I recommend that you make arrangements for the airport pick up prior to arrival. The arrival terminal is overwhelming, and not very organized.
The easiest way to travel short distances in Lombok is by scooter. Lombok boasts some of the best roads in Indonesia, and even if you are not an experienced scooter driver you will probably be fine. However, if you do not know how to drive or scooter or do not feel comfortable you can arrange for a scooter driver via the Grab app.
When is the best time to go to Lombok?
When planning a vacation to Lombok, it is important to keep the weather in mind. While Lombok is generally drier than Bali, the weather patterns are similar. The rainy season here lasts from October to March. The island is very busy during the dry season and the best time to travel is shoulder season; September and April are optimal.
What vaccinations do you need for Lombok?
The CDC encourages all travelers to obtain several important vaccinations prior to travel to Indonesia. These include Japanese Encephalitis, Polio and Hepatitis B. For the most updated vaccinations for Lombok, always check the CDC website.
Malaria in Lombok, Indonesia
As of December 2019, there were several reported Malaria cases in Lombok, Indonesia. The CDC recommends anti-malarial medication for anyone visiting Lombok.
Thank you for reading!
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For even more off the beaten path things to do in Indonesia, be sure to check out “Orangutan Safari in Borneo”