With its legendary waves, gorgeous limestone cliffs, and enchanting cultural scene, Bali has been a tourist favorite for years, but people often overlook Lombok, its brilliant sister island. It’s the obvious choice if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, and truth be told, we don’t think you’d have to do much more than scroll through photos of it to be convinced.
From its mesmerizing scenery to its unforgettable cuisine, and close proximity to the Gili Islands, there are plenty of reasons to pay Lombok a visit besides the secluded beaches. In fact, the prices for accommodation, food, and attractions are also often a good deal cheaper than in Bali and don’t even get us started on the coral reefs or the mossy mountains.
If you need even further convincing, our nine reasons to visit Lombok are sure to sell you on an unforgettable holiday to this dazzling Indonesian treasure. Let’s get into it – you’ll thank us later.
Kickstarting our list we have one of the most obvious reasons, Lombok’s stunning shores. Since you’re thinking of visiting the Indonesian Islands, some beach relaxation is probably on your agenda, and when compared to its neighbor, this place really holds its own. Lombok has some seriously beautiful white sand beaches, and in contrast to Bali, you can rest assured that they won’t be crowded.
Sekotong in Lombok is a great place to visit if you want to give scuba diving a go. Its spectacular coral reefs are perfect for beginners with the sheltered dives they offer, and there’s a good chance that you’ll spot some sea turtles or even tiny pygmy seahorses.
Another not-to-be-missed Lombok highlight is Semeti Beach. Here you’ll find jaw-dropping pyramid-shaped rock formations which protrude from the ocean and offer the perfect backdrop to a tropical sunset. Still, its most popular beach has to be the Pink Beach or Pantai Tangsi. Located in Jerowaru, in the eastern region of Lombok, this beach stands out from all of the other beautiful white sand beaches in the area with its enchanting fuchsia sands, which are supposedly caused by the coral that surrounds the island.
Lombok is a year-round surf spot, more so than any other Indonesian island. Millions of tourists flock to the country every year for the epic swell and wild waves, but Lombok was first put on the map by budding boarders and it remains popular as a surf destination.
Seger Beach is a must-visit spot for snappy waves and it’s close to Kuta with just a short paddle out. You’ll find right and left-hand waves here, with the right being more consistent. On the South West Coast, you’ll also find Desert Point, regarded as one of the best waves in the world. Known to give riders as many as 20-second barrels, that only the chilly waters of Namibia’s Skeleton Bay can rival, it’s a world-class spot and bucket list destination for surfers.
You can surf at any time in Lombok, but the best time to catch the mythical Desert Point is during the peak season from April to October. This is the same for Indonesia on the whole, with consistent four to 12 feet SSW to WSW swells common in these months.
The Relaxed Vibe
As a consequence of the influx of tourists to Bali, many traditional villages now feel quite tourist-driven, and popular spots are extremely crowded. Naturally, this isn’t an issue for everyone, but if you’re looking for peace of mind and time to reflect, Lombok is the place to be.
It’s a firm favorite among honeymooners, and those who enjoy laidback retreats due to its slower pace, and the limited number of nightclubs and bars that contribute to the island’s tranquility. With fewer crowds, fewer parties, and no mass gatherings, there are also fewer traffic jams and enough space for tourists to roam around on their bikes as they please. Plus, it boasts a much smaller amount of hawkers, and the weather is pretty stable in this corner of the world, with an average yearly temperature high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, adding to its easy-going ambiance.
Bali has its fair share of majestic waterfalls, but Lombok’s twin Tiu Teja, Tiu Kelep, and Benang Kelambu are truly something else. And that’s not even the end of it when it comes to scenery.
Mount Rinjani, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, is perched on Lombok. Featuring the majestic Segara Anak Lake at the summit, in addition to the Air Kalak hot springs, there are more than enough charms to match its height. After all, what could be better than ending a tough hike with a relaxing mineral bath in the springs?
Hiking trails and multi-day tours for adventure enthusiasts are readily available to the volcano, where visitors are treated to sweeping views of Lombok and Bali, as well as the volcanic crater. You could even organize a sunrise tour for an extra special experience.
Then there’s the unparalleled Bangkang Batcave. Nestled underground on Lombok, your senses will be struck by golden-hued bursts of sunlight through the cave ceiling and the sound of thousands of bats as you make your descent. What’s more, if you decide to stay until sunset, you’ll also have the chance to watch the bats leaving the cave as they begin their nightly hunts.
Indonesian cuisine might not have quite the reputation of neighboring Thailand’s food, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of amazing meals in Lombok. Like Bali, its climate allows for the growth of first-class produce, and we have no doubt that you’ll discover a new favorite spicy dish or two if that’s your thing.
Seeing as the word ‘Lombok’ literally translates as chili in Bahasa Indonesia, you can expect its natives to know their way around hot food. The local green and red chilies are often blended with peppers, garlic, onion, and shrimp paste, which is made into a delicious, but fiery, condiment known as sambal. Every meal is served with this condiment on the side so you can decide how spicy you want it, and it really doesn’t get much better if you add fresh grilled fish to the mix.
Still, there are plenty of mouth-watering spice-free delicacies to sink your teeth into too. The most famous Indonesian dish is Nasi Goreng. The fried rice dish, similar to paella, usually consists of eggs, chicken, prawns, and vegetables. Many Lombok beach restaurants will serve it up for you hot on the sands.
Each Indonesian island has a captivating culture that sets it apart from another, and this spot is no exception. Although Lombok and Bali are located close to each other, their cultures are very different, and you can expect an enriching experience in both.
It might surprise you to know that Islam is the dominant religion here, while most Balinese are Hindu, and Lombok’s natives are the Sasak ethnic tribe, who speak their own language. Visiting here offers tourists a window into a distinctive culture you’ll definitely want to explore.
There are also many different festivals that happen in Lombok, and arguably the most famous is Bau Nyale. Here the Sasak people hold a celebration in remembrance of an ancient princess who drowned herself in the sea to escape a political marriage and sow the seeds for prosperity on the island. It’s believed that the strange colorful sea worms which appear once a year represent the princess, and, as is tradition, many run to the beach to catch one of them for good luck, before cooking and eating them.
Then there’s Hari Raya, a Muslim festival, and a Hindu festival, called Senggigi, and there’s no shortage of temples, traditional dance performances, or markets. As an added bonus, Lombok also houses most of Indonesia’s architecturally impressive structures for Islamic worship, which offers a glimpse into the island’s cultural past.
One of the best things about Lombok is the traveling convenience it offers. In fact, it’s only a 20-minute flight from Bali and just a two-hour ferry trip, and you can even fly from Singapore or Java to Lombok’s international airport in less than a few hours. Lombok is nestled in a highly coveted island constellation that includes the three Gili Islands, namely Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. They can also be reached within half an hour from Lombok, and it costs significantly less to do so than it would from Bali.
We can safely say that there’s something for everyone in reach of Lombok. Gili Trawangan is a party haven, and one of the first things you’ll notice when you get there are all the beach bars and restaurants lining the shores. In addition, there’s a big turtle sanctuary, with several pools of tortoises and a host of information for turtle lovers to uncover. Gili Meno has one too, as well as a mesmerizing underwater statue that’s perfect for capturing some Go-Pro snorkeling footage. Gili Air tends to be a lot more laid back and crowd-free than the other islands, but you’ll still find boutique hotels and beachfront restaurants.
Indonesia has a reputation for being one of the most affordable destinations in the world, and Lombok in particular is known for its reasonable prices. Seeing as it’s much less tourist-driven, gourmet products and services are often much more affordable than in Bali.
As it’s less touristy, there isn’t an abundance of hotels or hostels, but you’ll find plenty of homestays in Kuta, and they’ll typically only cost you between 130,000 IDR (9 USD) and 260,000 IDR (18 USD) per night. But wait, it gets better, the food is super affordable too.
There’s something delicious around every corner, and while this price will vary, on average tourists only spend around 160,000 IDR a day on food, that’s less than $12 USD.
As stated, the average temperature in Lombok is pretty consistent year-round, hovering at highs of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Nearby Bali is known for its treacherous rainy season that lasts from October through until May, but Lombok is actually considerably drier than the Island of the Gods. The heavens do tend to open daily from November to March, but it generally rains for just one hour and you can still experience plenty of sunshine during these months.
April is the hottest month, averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit, while July is the coolest but the driest, with temperatures sitting around 78 degrees Fahrenheit – hardly freezing, right? Lombok is a tropical, year-round holiday hotspot and the consistent weather is a reason as good as any to visit, and might even give it a headstart against Bali.
How long do you need in Lombok?
You could easily spend weeks exploring this magical island, but we recommend a minimum of five days to get a taste of the beaches, food, and laid-back vibes of Lombok. If you’ve got a week on the island, consider a trip to the Gilis, a trek up Mount Rinjani, and don’t forget to beach hop for some surfing lessons.
Is December a good time to visit Lombok?
The weather is pretty consistent year-round in Lombok, with average highs in the 80s. Still, December is in the middle of the rainy season, and the island can experience daily showers. Although, this isn’t a reason to give Lombok a miss. Bali’s neighbor experiences less rainfall than the island of the Gods and the low season will promise fewer crowds and cheaper prices, so December is as good a time as any to visit.
Is Lombok cheaper than Bali?
Lombok comes up slightly cheaper than Bali in most areas, including food, day tours, and accommodation. The Island of the Gods is more touristy but there is more variety and better transport, but Lombok also has no shortage of budget homestays and local eateries that keep the costs down.