Bali’s neighboring island, Lombok is well worth a visit if you are exploring Indonesia. Beautiful surfing beaches in the South, mountains, rainforests and epic waterfalls in the North it’s got a bit of everything.
You’ve got several options to getting to Lombok from Bali: there’s the ferry service from Bali which costs $30 return or $20 one way, or you can fly to Lombok’s new international airport located in the south of the island about a 40 minute drive from Kuta, not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta. Personally I managed to find a flight for $14, so opted to take the 22 minute flight.. That’s right 22 minutes! Then got an Uber all the way to Sengiggi for 90,000 IDR, which isn’t the cheapest way but as there was two of us it seemed worth the shared expense for the ease of transportation.
The ferry from Bali takes about 3 hours, and will drop you off in Bangsal in the north of the island about an hour drive from Sengiggi, if you are heading for Rinjani then this is a good option. At the base of Rinjani are numerous guesthouses you can stay in and they will help organize the trek for you. How you choose to get there really depends how cheap you can find a flight and whether you are staying in the north or the south of the island, either way it’s relatively easy and inexpensive.
The number one activity on Lombok is trekking Mount Rinjani, I’ve heard it’s an epic trek but as I’d spent a long time exploring Bali I couldn’t commit to the 3 day 2 night trek, although I’ll be back to do it for sure!
There is so much to see and explore in Lombok, the two main areas that tourists stay are either Kuta in the south, not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta, or Sengiggi in the west. I’m not going to profess to be an expert on Kuta as I haven’t yet traveled here but from what I hear the beaches are nicer than that of Sengiggi, ideal for surfing and there’s a cool vibe to the town. I’d recommend doing a bit of research as from what I’ve seen Kuta is probably a better option than Sengiggi.
Sengiggi is a decent spot to spend a few days but the beaches aren’t that spectacular until you drive out of town, hitting winding beachside roads you get stunning views across to the Gili islands and there are numerous beaches that offer white sand and calm waters where the only people you’ll see are local fisherman and local children frolicking in the water. Sengiggi town itself has everything you need, there are some decent local warungs where you can eat for as little as 15,000 IDR, there are decent enough restaurants serving up local and international cuisine and there are a couple of nice coffee shops. It’s not a happening place and doesn’t have the same vibe as other parts of Indonesia, so I wouldn’t recommend staying here for long, a day or two to drive up to the waterfalls and along the beautiful coastline!
Accommodation in Sengiggi isn’t as abundant, as cheap or as good of quality as most of the popular areas in Bali but you can still grab a bargain and find some decent spots to stay in. If you are a solo traveler you can still find nice hostels for about $7, check out Oggie’s place or Selasar hostel, I’ve heard good things about both and they are probably the best two in the area in a central location. For couples I can recommend Semilir Sengiggi Inn, it’s about a 1km walk outside of the city center but is one of the more affordable hotels at $24 a night, decent sized rooms, clean, comfortable and really well run but a little bit of a walk into the town center.
If you want to escape the crowds of Bali, Lombok offers great beaches just not a lot in the way of nightlife. I’d be surprised if in 10-15 years time Lombok isn’t a replica of Bali, resorts are popping up all over the island and it’s reputation is growing.
The capital of the island Mataram doesn’t offer too much, it does have a shopping mall which is pretty big if you need any essentials you can’t find elsewhere, other than that it’s a bit like Denpasar in Bali, the hub for business but not a lot going on for Tourists.
Lombok is really all about the peaceful beaches and exploring the interior mountains, forest and epic waterfalls like Tiu Kelep which sits near the base of Mount Rinjani.