This Indonesian island often gets overlook by holiday-makers travelling between Bali and the Gili islands, but are plenty of things to do in Lombok. I’d suggest giving yourself a couple of weeks here if possible. Here’s a breakdown to what the island has to offer:
Senggigi is one of the tourist hubs on the island, so expect to see lots of backpackers, expats and Aussie bar-owners! If you’re easing yourself in Lombok, or into Indonesia, this is a pretty great place to start. There’s a huge range of accommodation, from budget hostels to fancy hotels and Airbnbs. Expect a lot of Western food outlets, as well as smaller local warungs or restaurants.
This is the perfect place to try surfing, or simply relax on the beach. There are various yoga studios here, too. Senggigi feels like a nice mix of traditional Indonesian culture and Western comforts, so is ideal for anyone new to travelling.
Senggigi makes a great base, and is within a few hours of Lombok International Airport, depending on the traffic! There’s also a port here, with fast boats to the Gili islands and mainland. It’s less than an hour’s drive along the stunning coastline to Bangsal, another port with great links. If you’re travelling alone, make this one of the top things to do in Lombok, as you’ll meet lots of other backpackers!
Head here if: you fancy some time chilling at the beach, surfing and getting some yoga practice in
Not to be confused with Kuta Bali, this little slice of paradise in the South of Lombok is both stunning and serene. While I love mainland and its buzz, I’m a much bigger fan of deserted beaches, quiet wanderings and relaxed days spent doing nothing. Kuta Lombok is the place to really chill and take it all in.
It’s touristy enough to have a great choice of hostels, hotels and restaurants, but it’s still calm and has that true ‘island-feel’ to it. Kuta is also conveniently close to the airport, so makes a good stop-off point at the beginning or end of your time on the island.
Kuta is a great destination for anyone who is seeking time out from the hustle and bustle of Bali. It’s still packed with great yoga studios and water-sports opportunities, so you’re not missing out any on mainland-fun!
Head here if: you love white sand beaches, natural landscapes and meeting new people
Of course, you can do some trekking here and climb the second largest volcano in Indonesia, but you can also just chill here. The roads are decent enough that you can rent a moped and zip around, stopping off for roadside lunches and chats in the local villages. The land here is lush, and very green. It might not be super beach-focused, but the beautiful nature and wildness of the land make up for it!
There are waterfalls to explore, so take a few days and slow down. There are several home-stays and hotels to stay in, as well as fancier resorts. Expect lots of local food, and make the most of it. Lombok tends to be cheaper than Bali, which gives you the perfect excuse to try everything on the menu. Eating is probably one of the best things to do in Lombok, so don’t feel guilty about cramming in a few extra meals each day!
Head here if: you want adventure, be it a trek or village-wander, and to be close to nature
This area is a lot more fast-paced than many areas in Lombok, so be prepared for more traffic and noise. I wouldn’t recommend this for more than a day, really, but it’s worth visiting if you’re craving more of a buzz.
The shopping mall here is one of the main attractions, and has been built pretty recently so is fully air-conditioned and modern. There are several Western chain shops and eateries here, as well as a big local supermarket with everything you could possible need or want.
You can also visit some gardens and temples that are areas of calm among the busy city. Mataram may not initially feel like it would be home to serene temples, but there are oases if you look hard enough! This is also home to the island’s immigration offices, so you’ll be heading here if you need to do any visa extensions.
Head here if: you’re craving some retail therapy, and a Starbucks!
The Gili Islands
While there are actually several gilis (small islands), the little trio of Meno, Trawangan and Air are most popular. These islands are all car-free, and make a stunning spot to relax on beautiful beaches and rejuvenate. If you need a break from it all, add these islands to your list of things to do in Lombok.
Gili Meno is ideal for honeymooners, with white beaches, fancy hotels and stunning backdrops for all your newlywed selfies! Gili Trawangan is made for backpackers who fancy meeting other people and joining bar crawls; plenty of hostels here, and a ‘strip’ of late-night bars. For anyone craving something in the middle, head to Gili Air – quiet and calm, but with enough of a buzz if you seek it out.
These islands are all great spots to try diving for the first time, or work your way up to the next level of qualification. Snorkelling is big on the islands, too, and spending all day on the beach is perfectly acceptable.
Head here if: you’re in need of some true ‘paradise’ scenery and fancy being an islander for a week.
This little village is home to strawberry fields, strangely enough. It’s up in the north of the island, close to Rinjani Volcano, and is well worth the visit. If you fancy taking a break but can’t deal with being horizontal on a beach all day long, explore the strawberry fields.
There are so many opportunities to pick your own fruit here, and the area is cooler than the rest of the island. The milder climate makes strolling through the crops a lot easier, and the strawberries here are delicious. This is one of the things to do in Lombok that you won’t want to miss out on!
Head here if: you fancy a day of eating fresh fruit, or want to camp somewhere quiet
The ‘Other Gilis’
There is a small collection of gilis tucked under the south of Lombok, which are worth visiting if you have time. These islands are nothing like the famous trio, or like Lombok itself. If you want an ‘authentic’ experience, these islands are yet to become super touristy – no McDonalds here! For anyone who is fed up of being among crowds of tourists, make this the number one on your list of things to do in Lombok.
Gili Gede is stunning and very quiet, while Gili Nanggu is ideal for anyone who fancies diving. These tend to be the most popular out of the ‘other gilis’, but there are other options if you can find someone to take you by boat. Not many tourists tend to head to these islands, so you may need to ask at your accommodation for advice on getting there, and where to stay. I’d suggest taking cash with you, just to be on the safe side, as island ATMs tend to be unreliable.
These islands can be reached from the south of Lombok, from Lembar harbour. There are slow boats available at cheap prices, or you can hire a boat for the day. Don’t expect to find heaps of hotels on Booking.com or any internet sites, as many places to stay will be family-run and small. This only adds to the appeal, in my opinion.
Head here if: you don’t mind being the only tourist around and enjoy the simple life
Lombok is a wonderful island to explore, and many of the best places here won’t have names or be on the internet. Zoom around on a scooter and stop off wherever looks good! Locals are super friendly and will do their best to help you. They’ll be able to point out hidden waterfalls, empty beaches and the tastiest ‘bakso’ (spicy meatball soup!) around. Discover the island at your own pace, but don’t be afraid to move around. It can be tempting to get stuck in one place, but there is so much to see here. Make the most of your time and explore!