Away from the crowds of Bali, Indonesian island Lombok is a colourful, pristine land of treasures.
Unspoilt beaches, coral-filled waters, forest-clad mountains and refreshing waterfalls – Lombok has everything you could want for an affordable and relaxing island break. And best of all, it’s just a short trip away.
The vibrant Indonesian island encompasses all the natural beauty of Bali, without the crowds, parties and Australians Behaving Badly. Chill out on white sands, go hiking and climbing and indulge in local Sasak fare. Whatever sort of trip you’re after, a feast for the senses is waiting.
How to get to Lombok
A few airlines fly directly into Lombok, but if you’re coming straight from Australia you will probably fly into Denpasar, Bali. From there you can connect to a domestic flight into Lombok International Airport, which is located close to Praya and not far from the main beach areas of Kuta and Senggigi. The flight between the two islands is only around 30 minutes and is usually very cheap.
The other easiest way to get from Bali to Lombok is by public ferry. The journey takes around 4-5 hours and can be a fun way to get immersed in the local culture. Be warned though – some ferries are quite basic (read: not air-conditioned) and the trip can get long, hot and uncomfortable. Ferries leave every hour from Padang Bai Harbour and take you to Lembar Harbour in the south-west of Lombok.
Get ready for a real feast of exotic tastes, textures and aromas. In Lombok you’ll discover a wide variety of local flavours with a fusion of Balinese and Chinese influences. Indonesian favourites like spicy peanut satay, coconut-infused gado gado and nasi goreng are served alongside traditional Sasak dishes, such as Taliwang chicken – freshly barbecued chicken marinated in dried red chili, garlic and lemon, covered in sweet, sour and spicy sambal sauce.
There are also plenty of delicious vegetarian options. Tofu and tempeh are staples in Lombok cuisine, and are served up in a variety of tasty ways.
Places to go, things to do
Part of what makes Lombok such a fantastic destination is its variety. Whether you want a cultural experience, a more active adventure or a lazy beach holiday, there are plenty of interesting places to discover in different parts of the island.
Mountains and waterfalls
Take a guided hike through the foothills of Mt Rinjani, a majestic active volcano that dominates the Lombok skyline. Over 20 rustic Sasak villages are dotted around the base of the mountain, with many different trails leading up through the national park, but the main entry points are from Senaru in the north and Sembalun Lawang to the east. The landscape is teeming with lush green forests and gorgeous waterfalls to cool off under.
If you’re particularly outdoorsy, trekking the mountain itself is an invigorating challenge, with spectacular views to reward you for your hard work. Choose a reputable tour company to guide you on your hike, and take your time. A two day trip should get you to the crater rim and back; to get to the summit, allow a four day trek.
Rice fields and villages
For a calming taste of countryside life, wander through the dewy green rice fields, fruit orchards and cow pastures of Tetebatu, a small village on the southern slopes of Mt Rinjani. See local farmers at work, stop by clove and coffee plantations, sample some of their delicious produce, or make your way through the hills and streams to the monkey forests.
There are plenty of small villages to explore, each known for their specific crafts – pottery, bamboo weaving, wood and shell carving to name a few. A local guide can take you to some of the best hidden places, where you can meet the makers themselves, watch them at work, and pick up some unique, authentic gifts.
Lombok’s best known beach resort is Senggigi beach. From here, you can soak up spectacular sunsets over Bali, indulge in massages and spa treatments, and check out delicious local restaurant fare.
But for a more secluded, bohemian beach vibe, take a boat out to the Gili Islands, an archipelago made up of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Here there are no cars, just horse drawn carts and bicycles for you to peddle your way around. Stroll down the main drag for colourful beachside nightlife, chill out on tucked-away beaches, take a rejuvenating yoga class, or go snorkelling in the crystal clear waters, keeping an eye out for coral, vibrant fish and sea turtles.
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