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Lombok is only a short 18-minute flight away from neighboring island Bali, but it couldn’t be more different. If you’re tired of Bali’s traffic jams, huge hotel complexes and crowds of other tourists everywhere, take some time out in Lombok. I’ve come to love the island, especially in low season, so I thought I’d share my top five things to do in Lombok with you guys.
I would recommend being based out of the south part of the island, as Senggigi isn’t that great in my eyes. The Kuta area is the most developed part of the south coast, with a growing number of accommodation, restaurants and bars. But don’t worry, it doesn’t share any similarities with Bali’s Kuta other than the name. You won’t see anyone raging around wearing Bintang tank tops high on Magic Mushrooms in this Kuta, at least I haven’t yet. Read more about the paradise that is South Lombok here.
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1. Explore on two wheels
My favorite thing to do is to just drive around the south part of the island on a scooter and see where I end up. By doing this we found many places we hadn’t heard of and wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Like a “secret” beach we had all to ourselves, with only a small path leading to it through the bush. South Lombok is the perfect place to do so because the traffic is not as crazy as on many of the other islands. Most roads are narrow but quite good, though some parts are very steep. If you’re not super confident on the scooter be sure to get back to your area before the sun is gone because there aren’t many streetlights in the jungle. If you’re staying close to Kuta Beach, head either east or west out of town and just enjoy the incredible scenery. You’ll most likely stop ever two minutes or so to shoot photos. I know I did. Both the photo below and my blog header is of me driving to the beaches west of Kuta.
Scooter hire is usually 70k a day and I have never needed to show my licence.
Lancing Beach when it was still deserted
If you’d like to explore Bali and Lombok but don’t want to plan it all yourself, check out one of these amazing tours!
2. Go beach-hopping
With an abundance of beautiful coves and bays, Lombok is a haven for beach lovers. Pick and choose which one you like best, as they are all lined up along the south coast. When we first came to the island, we easily saw five beaches on the first day to decide which ones we wanted to go back to and spend a little more time at.
I wrote about my two favorite beaches on Lombok, Tanjung Aan and Mawun, in the previous post. I actually think I have to go as far as saying Tanjung Aan is my favorite beach of all time! The sand is powdery white, the water is turqouise and the warungs that line the beach are as pictureperfect as can be. Most of the sunloungers are free to use if you buy some food and drinks from their kitchen, which is very affordable. The most I think I’ve ever spent on a beach day in Lombok is around 100k Rp / $6.5.
A different and more remote beach called Tangsi “Pink” Beach can be found southeast on the island. The sand is made out of coral, which gives it the famous pink color. Make sure you get there early in the morning before all the tourist boats arrive. The easiest way to get there is to hire a driver as the drive out on old roads is quite difficult. But if you’re up for an adventure then it is definitely doable on a scooter as well. It’ll take about 2,5 hours on a scooter to get there from Kuta. The main roads are well maintained but the last 10 km of road when you get out on the peninsula is mostly made up of broken concrete and dirt. So prepare for a bumpy ride!
Warung Surfer Beach on Pantai Tanjung Aan
The western cove of Tanjung Aan Beach looking towards Bukit Merese
The beautiful Lancing Beach which you can have pretty much all to yourself
Related post: best budget hotels and restaurants in south Lombok!
3. Head inland and explore the lush jungle
The beauty of Lombok isn’t just in the coastline, go inland and you’ll find a lot of gems and even fewer tourists. Guided trekking tours to Mount Rinjani is sold by every tour operator at Lombok, the Gili Islands and online. At 3.726 m, Rinjani is the second highest Volcano in Indonesia, so this trek isn’t for the faint of heart. There are different packages to choose from, depending on your physical and mental strength. If you’re unsure of whether or not you can handle the trek, check out this 2-night introduction to Mt. Rinjani tour.
For a less strenuous day in the same area north on the island, head to Rinjani National Park and explore all the sight except the volcano. The best and most efficient way to do this is to book a guided tour. Which I can’t believe I’m saying because I’m usually not a fan of tours. But This private full-day tour takes you to all the highlights of Rinjani National Park, including Senaru village, the Baun Pusuk monkey forest and the Sendang Gile and Tui Kelep waterfalls. The tour includes hotel pickup, lunch, and round-trip transportation, so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful nature.
You can of curse also explore the Senaru Waterfalls by yourself, just ask your hotel to book a driver for you. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee at the waterfalls but you shouldn’t feel obliged to hire a guide if you don’t want to. South of Mount Rinjani there’s also a couple of waterfalls worth checking out, called Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu. So if you book a driver for the day, make sure to also add these two to your itinerary.
Sunset view from Bukit Merese
Related post: Bukit Merese – The best sunset viewpoint in south Lombok
4. Learn to surf
With lots of waves to choose from, Lombok is a great place for surfers at every level. Rent a soft board and hire a local teacher at Selong Belanak beach, join a surf camp in Gerupuk which is home to five different spots or if your skills are more towards expert level check out Mawi, Are Guling and Desert Point. All of these spots except Desert Point is easily reached from Kuta Beach on a scooter in less than 30 minutes. Nalua Surf in Kuta is also worth checking out!
One of the surf spots in Gerupuk
5. Experience local life
The best way to learn about a new place is to engage in conversation with the locals. They will often proudly tell you about their people, culture and sometimes places the guidebooks leave out. The Sasak people which make up 85% of Lombok’s population is no different, they are warm and welcoming even if you can’t always understand each other. They are known for their spicy food, beautiful handicrafts, music, colorful weddings and the “Lumbung” style houses.
To get a closer look at the local culture, visit the traditional weaving village in Sade, where you pay an entrance fee that is “up to you”. There’s a lot of tourists here at all times, but it’s still fun to see how most of the Sasak people lived back in the day. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything if you don’t want to, just smile, shake your head and repeatedly say no. Rambitan is the other traditional village in the area, which I’ve heard feels a bit more authentic and less touristy than Sade. A little further north there is yet another village you can visit called Sukarara.
Meeting locals at Selong Belanak Beach
Some of the beautiful “Songket” fabrics I bought from the weaving village
What to wear in Lombok
One of the questions I get asked most about Lombok is “what should I wear?”. Although Lombok is a predominantly Muslim island, the dress code isn’t as strict as in many other Muslim countries. You can wear whatever you’d normally wear on a beach holiday, especially in the south. But I always cover up with a maxi dress or a long kimono if I go into one of the bigger cities.
Below I have listed some items similar to ones that are always with me when I travel to Lombok and Bali. Remember to also bring some appropriate hiking gear if you want to explore the jungle or trek Mount Rinjani.