Just 40 minutes or so by air, the island of Lombok is vastly different in many ways from its bustling, heavily developed neighbour Bali. If you’re craving a heavenly retreat for a seriously relaxing holiday experience without the hustle and bustle, Lombok could be your dream destination.
Lombok is part of Indonesia’s 18,307 islands; all of which are unique in their own right and offer tourists a new take on the Indonesian culture and its diversity. When visiting Lombok you’ll find that its landscape vastly differs depending on the location in which you are exploring. From arid mountainous landscapes complemented by blue-hued backdrops in the west to the lush greenery and powder white sand beaches in the east. All of these landscapes make Lombok the ideal place to kick back and relax, as you enjoy soaking up the tropical climate.
If looking out over the turquoise waters isn’t enough for you – there are plenty of wonderful recreational activities to enjoy here, including hiking, surfing, snorkelling and diving. Known for its ease of access to the Gili Islands and all that she has to offer, most tourist believe this is where you have to be to explore the best that Lombok has to offer. We are here to tell you that this isn’t the case. From unbeatable world-class waves off the coast of Selong Belanak at Desert Point to the protected Marina Del Ray in Gili Gede ideal for a pit spot or refuelling when sailing through the coast of Indonesia – you’ll find there is an abundance of new and hidden spots most are yet to discover. With far fewer tourists to contend with compared to Bali, Lombok is a place where you can explore at your own pace and immerse yourself in the laid back atmosphere of the island.
History & Culture
Lombok is today known as a predominately Muslim island of which is inhabited by the island’s indigenous Sasak people, however, there was a long period of time where the Balinese took control of the island and thus Hindu and Buddhist influence reigned supreme. In Lombok, you’ll find the majority of the population practice Islam and their beautiful devotion to their faith is heard throughout the islands calls to prayer and glistening rooftops of over 1,000 mosques.
Historically the culture of Lombok has been influenced by many over the decades first dating back to 1674 when the Dutch first visited, then came the Balinese invasion and take over in 1750 and finally in 1894 the Sasak rebellion signed a treaty with the Dutch East Indies to allow them to rule over Lombok until the declaration of Independence in 1945.
Although Lombok enjoys close proximity to neighbouring Java and Bali, she has not seen the tourism boom to the effect that the surrounding islands have, as of yet. Lombok has however seen a great rebuilding period since the 2018 devastating earthquakes where airlines, resort chains and entrepreneurs are investing into building restaurant hubs, villas, a MotoGP track (due to be completed in time for the 2021 circuit) and infrastructure to support the tourism interest and demand.
Planning Your Trip to Lombok
Planning your trip to Lombok and deciding where to go first can be slightly daunting. Whilst the island itself can be easily navigated and can cater to all different types of holidays, we feel it’s important to plan your trip strategically to get the most of out of your time. Our Lombok travel guide will provide you will the essential information you need, list some of the most popular things you can do in Lombok, provide you with some guidance as to where you might like to visit and finish with some inspirational blogs from our travels and experiences in Lombok.
Lombok is a year-round holiday destination. The best weather is considered to be from late May to early October – this is when the surf is pumping, the humidity slightly drops, the chance of rain is almost nil and you’ll find mostly clear blue skies. From late November through until early March is what is considered wet season – this is where the rainfall can come in monsoon style downpours. Although water activities don’t cease, the best conditions are during the dry season from May to October.
Things To See & Do in Lombok
Lombok is truly diverse in its landscape and offers something for everyone to enjoy. Whilst young people can hit the party scene on Gili Trawangan, groups of friends can explore both land and sea in search of new discoveries and experiences. With luxury villas dotted throughout the island and surrounding neighbours, guests will be spoilt for choice whether they are wanting a tranquil beachside retreat or the perfect family base to explore. Endless surfing action, trekking and wonders to discover – now is the time to be exploring the most untouched natural surrounds of Lombok.
Lombok is well known for its relaxing atmosphere with relatively limited traffic and a vast variety of surfing, diving, trekking and exploring on offer both on land and underwater.
The island’s heritage is evident through the integration of many years of reigning influence from the Balinese, Dutch and Indigenous Sasak people. Historic belief systems, ceremonies, dance and spiritual legacies are still practised today following centuries-old traditions:
Dance: known as Gandrung, this ritual dance is to the goddess of rice and fertility and is usually performed as an act of social courtship at events.
Music: Cilokaq is the name of a small band that provides the music at local cultural festivals, weddings and social events. Using a variety of traditional instruments all which origins are from Lombok, the Sasak tribes create sounds on a basis of rhythm, melody and harmony.
Art: Sasak and Balinese styles have mixed over the years from their neighbouring influence from one another. Many of the Sasak Tribal Women learn to weave a songket which is a fabric that takes up two to three weeks of work to complete. Depending on the difficulty of the weaving patterns, that time can extend for months.
MOSQUES & TEMPLES
Although the island is known for having more than 1,000 mosques – Lombok is still dotted with picturesque temples that have centuries of history attached. Whilst there are many to choose from, these are some of the most incredible to see for yourself:
Suranadi Temple: known for its spiritual rejuvenation powers located about 10km from Mataram.
Pura Meru: the largest temple on the island of Lombok with multilevel roof architecture.
Pura Batu Bolong: perched with views of the ocean and Argonne Mountains – depending on the time of day you may be able to see the cave below.
Islamic Centre Mosque: built nearly 100-metres high, this mosque has 5 main towers and glistening gold architecture.
Regardless of whether you’re heading to Lombok to laze about the pool or to get out and about, one thing’s for sure – you’ll fall in love with natural beauty of Lombok’s beaches and feel a whole new level of relaxation.
There are so many beaches in Lombok – with a full spectrum of white, tan, grey and black sand. Lombok’s most visited beaches include:
- Kuta Mandalika
- Selong Belanak
- Desert Point
- Are Guling
- Ekas Bay
- Gili Air
- Gili Trawangan
- Seger Reef
From adrenaline fuelled surfing as you ride the impressive waves to exploring the wonders of the ocean with a dive, you will never be short of ways to immerse yourself in the crystal clear waters of Lombok. For many years, Lombok has been a prime spot for surfing, so if it’s a superior surf experience you are looking for the excellent surf breaks on this island will prove ideal. You can enjoy surfing in perfect conditions when you head to Lombok, so get that surfboard ready and prepare to be taken to new heights atop the magnificent waves.
Another popular water activity in Lombok is diving, and this provides you with a wonderful way to explore the mysteries of the deep as you traverse the azure waters and marvel at the diverse marine life that you will come across. You will find far more species in the Indonesian waters than in places such as Great Barrier Reef, so look forward to a truly memorable experience. Immerse yourself in the delights of the ocean and take in the magic of the colourful underwater world. You can even take 7 day courses to learn how to dive.
If you are not quite ready to experience the adrenaline rush of surfing or handle the depths of the ocean with a dive, snorkelling is an excellent alternative. This is a great way to explore the waters without needing bags of experience or confidence, and will give you a wonderful insight into the marine life, plant life, and beauty of the ocean. You can hire googles and a snorkel at many of the beaches. Or chill out at any of the beach bars and sit back and relax. You are on holiday so why not?
Drinking & Nightlife
Dissimilar to Bali, Lombok takes a laid back approach to drinking and nightlife. Being that it is a Muslim majority island, drinking is not high on the local’s list of priorities. For this reason, we would suggest that a quiet dinner in your villa or a few beers on the beach whilst watching the sunset for the day on the waves is going to be more in tune with what’s on offer. Whilst in the tourist populated areas of Kuta and Senggigi you may find a few local hangouts stay open until late with live music, it is not the rave scene you would come to expect. If you are looking for more of a party, the neighbouring island of Gili Trawangan is where the beat is at. Filled with young revellers who are diving by day and partying by night this is the only part of Lombok that promotes the party scene.
The island of Lombok is in total 4,514 km², with a relatively circular shape reaching 70 km wide. We have written detailed travel guides for the most beautiful areas of the island, which are highlighted on the map and grouped by region below. From the pristine sunsets on Kuta Mandalika and the magnificent turquoise waves in Selong Belanak to the lush mountainous ravine in the North with volcano’s, waterfalls and trekking as well as island-hopping adventures in the Gili’s – Lombok truly has so much to explore.
The northern region of Lombok consists of magnificent mountain ranges, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano Mount Rinjani, beautiful black sand beaches and an infamous group of islands known as the Gili’s.
There are over 50 Ministry Approved villas in Lombok and the surrounding islands. Lombok villas range from USD $175 per night for one-bedroom villa resorts to over USD $1,000 per night for a seven-bedroom luxury villa. Most of our villas have dedicated staff including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and many other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Lombok’s only airport, Lombok International Airport, serves almost 4 million passengers every year. Located in Praya, Central Lombok, the airport is easily accessible from many major cities across the Asia Pacific region like Perth, Bali, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and many more. Popular airlines flying to Lombok include Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, SilkAir, Wings Air, Batik Air, Citilink, NAM Air and Indonesia AirAsia.
Tourists regularly travel to Lombok by boat, as it is easily accessible from the neighbouring island of Bali. A slow ferry takes about 4 – 5 hours from Bali however there are fast boats available too. The advantage of taking a ferry is you can make a day trip out of it. The Gili Islands are on the way to Lombok from Bali. Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are the 3 islands and certainly worth checking out.
Tourist visas are easily obtained upon arrival but it can be a hassle if you hope to stay longer than 30 days. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. This service is included for most villas when booking more than four nights.
Alternatively, there is a taxi stand located next to the information desk at the international arrival’s hall, after you exit the small duty-free shop. This desk offers fixed price and metered fares across the island. The listed fares are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find reliable, up to date pricing before arriving. Besides the official taxi stand, there are countless independent taxi drivers floating around the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. It’s always easier to have a car arranged beforehand than trying to navigate the taxi jungle at the airport.
There are plenty of options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
For many people, the best way to move about is on two wheels. Travelling by scooter or motorbike can be very rewarding as you can easily find a place to park just about anywhere. It is certainly the fastest way of getting from A to Z however a certain level of experience is required. Most important: you must have an international drivers license on your person at all times otherwise the local police can issue you a ticket with a summons to appear in court. Oh and make sure you wear a helmet!
Renting a car can open up Lombok for exploration, however, it is not advisable. Driving conditions can be harrowing and parking in populated areas can be a problem – hiring a private car with a driver is less stressful and equally economical.
Fast boats linking Lombok to the neighbouring islands like Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, Gili Meni, Gili Gede, Bali, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida have proliferated, especially as the island-style holiday has become more popular. Ministry of Villas can arrange ferry tickets for your group with a reputable operator.
Indonesian people are some of the friendliest and welcoming communities on the planet and are generally welcoming to tourists. This being said, it is only polite to return the gesture and be respectful towards their culture, land and people. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency go a long way.
Similarly to bargaining in Bali, this can be an enjoyable part of the shopping experience in Lombok… or frustrating, depending on what you find fun! To ensure a smooth and friendly exchange it is important to ask for the price from the seller first – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. Likely, they will respond with a counteroffer and so on until both parties are happy with the price. If you aren’t happy with the price, simply say thank you and walk away – sometimes you’ll find the seller yelling out okay, or a better (and usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
Please refrain from public displays of affection as Lombok is a Muslim majority island and the local culture is rather bashful. Avoid talking with your hands on your hips as this can be interpreted as being aggressive, and avoid using your left hand to handle money or food as the left hand is considered unclean.
Lombok is a rather conservative island so when walking the streets and exploring, it is encouraged to be respectfully dressed. We advise you to avoid showing a lot of skin and ask that women avoid topless sun bathtub on public beaches.
MOSQUES & TEMPLES
Whilst Lombok is known for being the island of 1,000 mosques, there are still Balinese Hindu temples present throughout. Please adhere to these very strict dos and don’ts when visiting a Mosque, Balinese temple or place of worship: do wear a sarong, do ensure you cover your upper body (shoulders) and do remember to remove your shoes; don’t enter a temple when bleeding, don’t enter a temple if you are pregnant, don’t point your feet toward the shrines and don’t stand higher than the priest. If you are unsure of protocol, ask first, or do not enter. Remember whilst they may look picturesque, it is polite first to ask for permission to take photographs.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Lombok is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Lombok, but in many cases, these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism. The advice we provide is a general guide only and does not replace the advice of a doctor trained in travel medicine:
Treatment for minor injuries and common traveller’s health problems is easily accessed in local medical clinics. For serious conditions, foreigners are best served to travel to Bali, Jakarta or Singapore if possible to be treated in the modern Australian-run private clinic BIMC which caters mainly to tourists and expats. Ensure your travel insurance will cover you. In cases where your medical condition is considered serious, you may be evacuated by air ambulance to Singapore or beyond.
Many drugs requiring a prescription in the West are available over the counter in Indonesia, including powerful antibiotics. The Kimia Farma chain is recommended as it has many locations, charges fair prices and has helpful staff. The Guardian chain of pharmacies is not recommended for the opposite reasons. Ensure all medications you bring into the country are packed in their original, clearly labelled containers and bring a signed and dated letter from your doctor as well as any written prescriptions.
The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in yellow-fever zones in some parts of Africa and South America within the six days prior to entering Indonesia. Your doctor may also recommend vaccines against tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid and rabies.
RISK OF INFECTION
Bali Belly: yes, we are in Lombok, however, the same traveller’s diarrhoea occurs as it is the most common ailment affecting travellers, defined as the passage of more than three watery bowel actions within 24 hours, plus at least one other symptom such as fever, cramps, nausea or vomiting. In over 80% of cases, traveller’s diarrhoea is caused by bacteria and therefore responds promptly to treatment with antibiotics.
Dengue Fever: a mosquito-borne disease with no available vaccine. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and body ache. Dengue fever can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. It’s vital to see a doctor to be diagnosed and monitored.
Hepatitis A: a food and waterborne virus which can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis B: a virus spread by body fluids which can be prevented by vaccination.
Rabies: a disease spread by the bite or lick of an infected animal which can be prevented by vaccination.
Typhoid: a bacterial infection spread via food and water where vaccinations are 80% effective. Its symptoms are a high and slowly progressive fever, headache and possibly a dry cough and stomach pain. Typhoid is diagnosed by blood tests and treated with antibiotics.
Many of Lombok’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents – always swim between the flags. Most beaches do not have trained life guards so enter at your own risk. When entering the water, tread carefully as some beaches have rocks, shells, reefs and harsh ocean floor that can cause cuts and grazes. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime against foreigners is generally uncommon, however petty theft and bag snatching does occur. We suggest taking necessary precautions like carrying cash to avoid credit card fraud, securing valuables in urban areas, don’t leave any valuables unattended and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Lombok is not safe to drink. The only safe option is bottled water, which is widely available, however, Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Need to Know
You will find that unlike Bali, local tourist offices are few and far between and are rarely useful. Here are the absolute essentials explained:
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the local currency, universally accepted all over Lombok. Credit cards are accepted in some establishments, cash machines (ATMs) are prevalent in major locations and it’s easy to exchange cash in more populated areas. We would advise coming prepared and carry some Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) with you, especially if you are planning to travel to more remote locations where ATMs and money exchangers might not be readily available to you.
Bahasa Indonesia and Sasak are the native languages spoken by locals but English is widely used in tourist areas. Bahasa Indonesia is the lingua franca of Indonesia, spoken by people from Papua to Sumatra and from Sulawesi to Java, while Sasak is a local language-specific to Lombok. The words and phrases most travellers learn are Indonesian, not Sasak. It makes sense for visitors to learn Indonesian over Sasak as Indonesian is a markedly easier language to learn. You may also come across locals from other parts of Indonesia who don’t speak Sasak, so learning some Indonesian is your best bet. Most commonly noted is that the Sasak language is closely related to Sumbawa and Balinese languages as they are the closest neighbours to Lombok, and many people have migrated from neighbouring islands to reside in Lombok.
Good morning = Selamat pagi
Good afternoon = Selamat siang
Good evening = Selamat sore
Good night = Selamat melam
Thank you = Terima kasih
You’re welcome = Sama sama
How are you? = Apa kabar?
I’m fine = Kabar baik
Yes = Ia
No = Tidak
Excuse me = Permisi
Sorry = Maaf
Open = Buka
Close = Tutup
Eat = Makan
Drink = Minum
1 = Satu
2 = Dua
3 = Tiga
4 = Empat
5 = Lima
6 = Enam
7 = Tuju
8 = Delapan
9 = Sembilan
10 = Sepuluh
11 = Seblas
12 = Dua belas
13 = Tiga belas
14 = Empat belas
20 = Dua puluh; 30 = Tiga puluh
100 = Seratus; 200 = Dua ratus
1,000 = Seribu; 10,000 = Sepuluh Ribu
1 million = Satu juta
How much is this? = Berapa ini?
Price = Harga
Price is expensive = Harga nya mahal
Cheaper possible? = Lebih murah bisa?
Great! = Bagus!
I = Saya
You = Kamu (familiar)
You = Anda (respectful)
You = Kalian (plural)
He/She = Dia
Us = Kita (including the person spoken to)
Us = Kami (not including the person spoken to)
They = Mereka
Help! = Tolong!
Be careful! = Hati-hati!
No worries! = Tidak apa apa!
Have a good trip! = Selamat jalan!
Lombok is populated by approximately 3.4 million, with an additional 3 million tourists visiting annually. Tourism numbers are growing at a rate of 20% year on year with this number expected to rise with the new infrastructure being built in preparation of the Moto GP in 2021. The population is concentration in the West, Central and East Lombok Regency’s whilst the lowest populated area is in the North.
Over 85% of the islands people identify as indigenous Sasak people, and thus are predominately Muslim. A minority of Balinese Hindu culture still remains in Lombok as a result of a long period of Hindu and Buddhist influence from nearby Java.
Indonesia’s country code is +62 Local SIM cards are sold everywhere, any modern mobile phone will work. Data speeds of 3G and faster are the norm across Lombok. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free WiFi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and mini marts.
Bali is on Waktu Indonesian Tengah (WIT) / Central Indonesian Standard Time, which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) / Universal Time.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking. Always make sure you check the terms and conditions (including what’s covered and what isn’t) of your policy.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Our team are always travelling and writing about the latest restaurants, activities, tours, villas, kids’ clubs, beaches, attractions… everything about Lombok!