Quieter than Bali, Lombok is easily reached and has much to offer anyone looking for a more off-the-beaten-track destination. Trekking Mount Rinjani (Indonesia’s second biggest Volcano), chasing waterfalls at Tiu Kelep and Sindang Gila, visiting Pink Beach or learning to surf in Kuta, oh yes there are plenty of things to do in Lombok.
Let Feet Do Travel take you on a journey from North Lombok to South Lombok, where we will show you cool and traditional things to do. You will then see for yourself why Lombok should be added to your travel list and Indonesian itinerary.
These are the 12 best things to do in Lombok (but there are many more!).
I’m going to start with one of the most famous activities on Lombok – trekking Mount Rinjani. This isn’t a trip you can do in one day, the 3,726 metre summit involves a gruelling three day hike, often of more than 12 hours per day, and includes camping overnight on Indonesia’s second highest volcano. This trek is only available between April and January due to the weather conditions. January – April is rainy season and the route is too muddy and dangerous.
Yes it’s tough, but it will be one of the most rewarding adventures from your Indonesian trip.
If a Mount Rinjani trek isn’t for you, how about an overnight camping trip to the Crater rim? This hike is still pretty tough and can take up to eight hours to reach your camp site, but you will be rewarded with stunning views of Lake Segara Anak, the crater lake.
Hiking through a beautiful jungle and camping on the rim of a volcanic lake will make the leg burn worth it.
3. Chasing Waterfalls
There are many waterfalls in Lombok, but the two most impressive (and most popular) are Tiu Kelep and Sindang Gila.
Nestled at the base of Mount Rinjani in Gunung Rinjani National Park, Tiu Kelep and Sindang Gila Waterfalls are located in the small village of Senaru, and can easily be visited together in one day.
The first waterfall and easiest to reach is Sindang Gila. The paved path through unspoilt jungle is easy to follow, with 215 wide steps to take you to the base of the falls.
We heard the waterfall before we reached it, and felt its magnificent spray as we stood on the waterfall edge. Behind the falls was a small recess so Sy and his friend Mark walked behind to feel the raw power of the water. On a hot day, the cool water would be refreshing but on a cloudy December day, “fresh” is the best way to describe it.
Leaving Sindang Gila, we walked along the same path and took a left turn towards Tiu Kelep. The first part of the walk was easy and pleasant through more jungle, across a viaduct bridge, but this soon gave way to a more adventurous route (if you have small legs like me).
We clambered up and down boulders, and waded precariously through flowing streams which formed the lower section of the cascading waterfall, it was great fun if I’m honest! It felt like a proper jungle adventure and we were excited for our reward.
Wow is all I can say, just wow! As we turned a corner, the first sight of Tiu Kelep was like something out of a movie.
OK confession time, I’m rather biased about the Gili Islands. If you didn’t already know, we lived on the paradise island of Gili Air for 15 months and for me, it’s the perfect island.
The journey from north Lombok to the three small islands takes about 20 minutes by local boat. All are sand islands with no motorised transport, and you can spend your days lazing on white sand beach, sipping a fresh coconut in a sea swing or hammock, or party until the sun comes up. The Gili Islands have something for everyone. These are the Gilis in a nutshell:
Gili Air – The nearest to Lombok and the medium sized island. Perfect for everyone from solo travellers, to party people, to families. Check out 25 Best Things to Do in Gili Air and decide for yourself.
Gili Meno – Sandwiched between the two islands, Giil Meno is the smallest of the three, and the quietest. Described as the honeymoon island, it’s still developing so is the perfect place for anyone seeking a quieter retreat. There is an Eco Hostel in the north, lush resorts in the south, and everything in between. For snorkelers, don’t miss the underwater statues off the west coast.
Gili Trawangan – Dubbed “the party island”, Gili T as it's affectionately known it has so much more to offer than just partying. The largest of the three islands, it has the best shopping including boutique stores, a mini golf range, and its own helipad if you want to arrive from Bali in style.
There are actually 26 Gili Islands around Lombok, “Gili” means island in the local Sasak language but not all are inhabited. We made it our mission to see as many as we could and visited Gili Gede, Gili Sudak, Gili Kedis and Gili Asahan, all off the Sekotong Peninsula, on the south west coast.
Some of the secret Gili Islands are more developed than others, but we definitely had a fantastic time discovering which one was our favourite. So which secret Gili Island was our favourite? You will have to visit and decide for yourself, after all, it’s a secret!
The beautiful turquoise waters around the Gili Islands and Lombok are warm for most of the year. Dubbed the unofficial “turtle capital of the world”, you can take a snorkel tour to visit the best spots. (NB: Please choose your snorkel company carefully, and make sure they do not feed the fish, or allow you to touch turtles. Feeding fish isn’t good for their diet or for the ocean, and you can pass bacteria onto turtles or stress them out if you chase/touch them).
Check out our post Scuba Diving the Gili Islands if you want to “get your PADI”, do a "Discover Scuba" or just go for fun dives.
For the adventurous diver who loves adrenaline, off the south coast of Lombok is Belongas Bay. Here there is a chance to see hammerhead sharks, however this dive site is not for the faint hearted. You may encounter strong currents including down and up currents. Contact Two Fish Divers for more information.
If you fancy a quieter place to surf (or to learn) on your trip to Indonesia, forget Bali and head to south Lombok! We recommend What Sup? Lombok who can not only teach you to surf, but will take you paragliding, kayaking, kite surfing and SUP (stand up paddle board). Prices range from 450,000 to 595,000 IDR
For beginners, Selong Belanak is listed as one of the best places in the world to learn.
If you are an experienced surfer, head to Mawi Beach which is more difficult to reach, but is considered the best place to catch a wave. Ekas Beach is also a paradise for surfers and kite surfers.
Segar Beach is also a good place but you will need to hire your board in Kuta and take it with you. This white sand beach is also perfect for sun worshippers, and for anyone wishing to chill on a beach. If you can, hang around for sunset as the views are fantastic!
There are many beautiful beaches around Lombok, some white and yes a Pink Beach!
Mawan Beach near Kuta is a good place to grab a cool drink and soak up beach life, but be sure to park at the 2nd car park and walk to the right. The currents around here wash plastic and trash onto the quiet end of the beach to the left and it’s a sad sight.
Don’t forget to carry your Refillable Water bottle and Reusable Bamboo/Aluminium Straw when you visit these beaches.
Other beaches to choose from in and around Kuta are:
Kuta Beach – the main beach in Kuta, perfect for families
Tanjung Aan Beach - good for snorkelling, considered by many to be the best beach around Kuta
Lancing Beach – a secluded beach with no facilities, take food and refreshments with you
Semeti Beach – difficult to reach and no facilities, take food and refreshments with you
Read our post Is Pink Beach Lombok Worth Visiting for travel options.
The view from Ashtari Coffee House looking down onto Kuta Bay is what draws people here.
A beautiful coffee shop and yoga shala perched at the top of a hill, it’s a lovely place to relax with fantastic food, oh and of course, a spectacular view.
They offer cooking classes between 10am-12pm and 1-3pm, and yoga classes run all day from 6.30am through to 5.15pm. For sunset lovers, this is a perfect viewing spot whilst sipping on a cocktail.
To truly experience a culture, you have to eat local food, and Indonesian food is deliciously simple. You will encounter many Warungs (small family restaurants) around Lombok and Indonesia, and a chance to try something adventurous, or play it safe with a classic Nasi Goreng (fried rice).
If you like a bit of heat on your food, Lombok is known for its spiciness. The name “Lombok” means chilli. To make any dish spicy, just ask for “pedas” which is Bahasa Indonesian for “spicy hot”.
Don't know which Indonesian dishes to sample? Here are our 10 Must Try Indonesian Dishes.
The countryside around Lombok is breath taking, so hire a scooter and just drive. Locals wave and smile as you pass through lush paddy fields, corn laid out to dry, and buffalows and goats walking along the road just makes me smile.
Most of the roads are excellent, but if you do encounter rough roads which you will if you drive to Pink Beach, then “hati hati” as the locals say which means be careful.
Note: Always wear a helmet! You will arrive at your destination with “helmet hair”, but it’s better to arrive with a bad hairstyle than not arrive at all. Locals drive scooters fast and without helmets, don’t be another accident statistic. Be safe, wear a helmet.
Lombok is rich with Sasak culture and traditions, Sasak are the indigenous people of this island. Traditional Sasak style homes are made from thatch and bamboo, and rice barns are known as a Lumbung. If you want to experience a traditional Sasak Village, head to Dusun Sade or Dusun Rambitan.
We went to Dusun Sade, and although it is “traditional”, it is geared up for tourists, and locals sell necklaces, bracelets, bags, sarongs and woven fabrics.
Bau Nyale Festival is based around the legend of Princess Mandalika who drowned herself rather than enter a politically vexatious marriage. Nyale is at the end of the festival, when locals collect sea worms at Segar Beach which are believed to be the incarnation of the Princess’ hair. The festival is timed with the spawning of marine worms which are caught and eaten, often wrapped in banana leaf and roasted. The legendary resting place of Princess Mandalika is Tanjung Aan Beach.
I have to point out the most important difference between Bali and Lombok – the religion. A difference in attitude and understanding needs to be applied, this is also relevant if you are visiting any of the Gili Islands or Secret Gilis.
Bali is predominantly Hindu which believe in many Gods. Cows are considered sacred so they don’t eat beef, but you can get ham and bacon.
Lombok is predominantly Muslim and follow Islam which recognises only one God, Allah. Pigs are deemed dirty so pork, bacon, ham, sausage or anything deriving from pigs isn’t eaten. Beef, however, is enjoyed, Rendang being a popular dish.
Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world, and the call to prayer from neighbouring mosques is heard five times a day. Once a year, Ramadan is observed so patience and understanding needs to be applied during that time. If you wish to know more about this time of fasting and spiritual exploration, read Ramadan Explained.
In Lombok, walking (or scootering) around the streets away from the beach area dressed in bikinis is culturally offensive. Muslim women dress modestly, and you will see the majority of women wearing a headscarf (hijab). Topless sunbathing is strictly forbidden. In Bali, Balinese women used to go topless well into the 20th century, and some can still be seen in rural communities today, so there is more tolerance (but respectful dress should still be applied away from the beach area, even though this is often ignored).
Beware of the child bracelet sellers
This is a difficult and complicated topic. I don’t know the reason behind the sell, but I feel uncomfortable buying bracelets from children, and don’t wish to unwittingly contribute to child tourism.
Lombok isn’t a rich province, and anyone visiting will be considered to have money, even if you are a backpacker watching your pennies.
In the Kuta area, there were children aged five and upwards selling bracelets from a folded cardboard display. The kids are charming, friendly and talkative, they shake your hand and understand that getting personal with you is the way to sell. Then they unleash their big doe-eyes on you as they go in for the kill, starting the haggling process of convincing you to buy from them. We have also heard about persistent child sellers on the beaches, some hug your leg which appears cute, but that’s when you have to watch out for pickpockets!
Wondering what to pack for your next trip? Let us help you with the essentials in our Ultimate Packing List for Worldwide Travel (tried and tested!)
By Air: You can fly into Lombok’s International Airport, Praya. From Bali the flight is about one hour
By Boat: From Bali Padang Bai, there is a large public boat which runs every hour to Lembar in south Lombok. The trip takes around 4-5 hours.
We suggest checking ferry schedules ahead of time, and booking in advance online with Bookaway. It will save time and hassle, and help you plan your travel itinerary.
How to get around Lombok
There is very little public transport so you have three options.
1. Hire a scooter for around 60,000 IDR for 24 hours.
2. Take a taxi between destinations, your accommodation should be able to arrange one.
3. Go on an organised tour, and always check reviews on Trip Advisor.
In the North - We stayed in the simple Anak Rinjani Guesthouse which was comfortable, quiet and clean. It was at the bottom of the hill for Sindang Gila and Tiu Kelep waterfalls, and also close to Mount Rinjani and craker lake. We almost stayed at Rinjani Mountain Garden which looks absolutely beautiful.
If you fancy a bit of luxury after your Rinjani hike, Rinjani Lodge is the place to stay. I have many Gili Air friends who stayed here for special occasions and said it was definitely worth the money.
In the South - In Kuta we stayed in Kuta Baru Hotel (formerly Hadiqa Villas) which we thoroughly recommend. Opposite a rice field, 10 minute walk from a main road with supermarkets and eateries. It had Air con, a nice shower, comfortable bed with a duvet, flat screen TV, a balcony and a swimming pool – all at backpacker prices!
• A 30 day visa is given at the time of arrival in Indonesia (not for all countries, check with your embassy).
• The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah £1 GBP = 17,000 IDR.
• Indonesia is an island nation made up of over 17,000 islands covering 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) east to west.
• Their official language is Bahasa Indonesia which is similar to Malaysian and throughout Indonesia in general.
• If you can use just a couple of Indonesian words, this will give you big smile in return, even if you simply use “Pagi” (morning) and “Terima Kasih” (thank you), it will be hugely appreciated.
• There are plenty of ATM’s in Kuta, and many around Lombok but cash is king.
• Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, homestays, warungs and restaurants.
• A warung is a small, family run restaurants offering cheap, tasty local and western dishes.
Want to be a better traveller and reduce your single use plastic? Hop over to our Travel Shop for inspiration. Refillable water bottles, reusable cutlery, bamboo straws, bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste power, shampoo bars and many more ideas.
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