It’s no secret that Australians love Bali, but it’s time we stopped ignoring Indonesia’s many other beautiful islands. Just a short 20 minute flight from Bali, Lombok is a refreshing, relaxing and largely untouched escape from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud.
For those looking for a more authentic Indonesian island experience, Lombok is the place to go. While a few large five star hotel chains have sprung up recently, accommodations tend to be more on the rustic side. Most restaurants and shops are small and family run, and fluent English-speakers are not as common as in Bali.
Lombok has the desired characteristics of any tropical getaway: private, unspoiled beaches, sparkling turquoise water, incredible marine life for snorkelling and diving, optimal surfing conditions, beachside bars, and breathtaking natural scenery. And you can’t leave without a tour of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano.
5 must-see Lombok attractions
- Mount Rinjani. Great for trekking and camping enthusiasts, Rinjani is an active volcano complete with hot springs and a crater lake. Stay overnight to catch one of the best sunrises in the world
- Waterfalls. For the freshest water you’ve ever experienced, visit one of Lombok’s many waterfalls. Mostly located in the north and centre of the island, waterfall locations include Tiu Teja, Sendang Gile, Benang Kelambu and Jeruk Manis.
- Local markets. For fresh fruit and veggies, traditional local fare, spices, fish and more, hit up one of Lombok’s many local markets. There are also markets for sourcing clothes, jewellery and souvenirs.
- Temples and mosques. Unlike Bali, the majority of the Lombok population is Muslim. The island is scattered with beautiful mosques, but there are also a few Balinese temples for the Hindu minority.
- The Gili Islands. Just a quick boat ride from Lombok, this trio of tiny “islets” should not be missed.
The Gili Islands up close
Another pocket of paradise near Bali is the Gili Islands. Accessed from the northwest coast of Lombok, the Gilis are three small islands boasting white sand beaches and stunning turquoise water rich with coral reefs and marine life.
The islands are very close together, but each has its own character and charm. Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, has a strong, vibrant bar and party scene, and a growing number of chic restaurants and hotels. Gili Air has the biggest local character, and is the best option for the budget traveller, but there are also many different accommodation choices to suit all tastes and budgets. And lastly, Gili Meno is the most laid back and undeveloped, perfect for those seeking a true desert island experience.
Exploring exotic locations is what travelling is all about. Walking on hot white sand, swimming in crystal waters and drinking cocktails on the beach. But when you go somewhere where anything is possible, it’s important to be covered for every possibility. Make sure you purchase travel insurance before you fly away.