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Lombok’s turquoise waters

Lombok Itinerary – 5 Days in Indonesian Paradise

Unlike Bali, its popular neighbour to the West, Lombok is much more serene and is a less developed island. It has picturesque, unspoiled beaches and awe-inspiring, towering mountains. Up until recently, Lombok wasn’t really on the travel radar with Bali still the place to go for some travel fun. Now, more people, and especially the more adventurous type of traveller are contemplating Lombok as an alternative. For many, it will remind them of how Bali was before developers had a greater influence.

Still today, Lombok remains an inexpensive and uncrowded tropical paradise. It’s ideally suited to those of us looking for a great diversion from the stresses of everyday life. With idyllic charm, and oozing with tranquility, you’ll soon realize that this eden-like landscape has the power to mesmerize. If you dream of powdery white beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests and breathtaking waterfalls, then Lombok could be the perfect destination. If you need adventure and are keen to look beyond the relaxed atmosphere, there is plenty to explore, such as a challenging hike to the top of a 3,726 metre (12,224ft) active volcano, in Mount Rinjani.

Mount Rinjani at sunrise

 

PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE 

Before I tell you about my trip, let me first give you some facts about Lombok that will give you an understanding of what to expect once you are there. Lombok is roughly the same size as Bali, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) across with a total area of about 4,514 square kilometres (1,743 square miles). The capital and largest city on Lombok is Mataram, home to a population of around 420,000. The money used on Lombok is the Indonesian Rupiah. If you are looking to change dollars, Euros or GBP for Rupiah, there are plenty of exchange shops around the Senggigi tourist resort area. The exchange rates offered in Lombok are actually quite competitive. Also, you may prefer to have a some Indonesian Rupiah already with you when you arrive.

Contrasting with Bali, where the majority of the population are Hindu’s, here in Lombok, they are Muslim and have a strong adherence to cultural rituals. Generally speaking, most people on Lombok either speak or understand the national language of Bahasa Indonesia, but English is also widely spoken.

A Lombok hut under a coconut tree 

When is the best time to visit Lombok?

Lombok has a year-round warm and humid tropical climate. Temperatures range from 21 Celsius to 32 Celsius.

Like most tropical locations, Lombok has a wet season that runs from November to March. Unlike Bali, Lombok seems to dodge the major storms and only gets sporadic showers. If you plan on hiking Mount Rinjani, the suggested ideal time period to do so is between the middle of June and October. You can read about my climb on Mount Rinjani here.

trekking Mount Rinjani
Trekking Mount Rinjani, at the Crater Rim…

How to get to Lombok? 

The easiest way to get to Lombok is to fly from Bali using one of three Indonesian airlines. Out of season tickets can be purchased for as little as $25 one-way. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry across the Lombok Strait from Padang Bai to Lembar. Ferries leave on the hour around the clock for the 3.5 to 4-hour journey. Price wise, though, you can’t beat it, with a one-way fare available for around $4 dollars.

 

What kind of clothes should I pack?

Think of Lombok like you would the Caribbean, so pack for summer (with a chance of tropical rain!). Light cotton clothes and sandals are perfect for Lombok, as are clothes that dry quickly after a shower, especially if you’re visiting in the rainy season. As Lombok is not as commercialized as other islands, you likely won’t find what you’re used to back home here in most shops. Therefore you may want to bring your own specific toiletries.

 

Where to stay in Lombok?

If you’re heading to Lombok to surf, you will want to stay in the delightful area of Kuta. Kuta is only 30 minutes from the airport and has some of the most spectacular beaches that you will find here. Another alternative if it’s your first time in Indonesia, is to stay in the capital Mataram. Buzzing with useful scooters and street-side food seller’s, accommodation in Mataram is even cheaper than the coastal resorts.

Scooters in Lombok are a cheap means of getting around

How can I get around on Lombok?

 If you want to get out and explore, your best option is to rent a car or motorbike/scooter, as buses can only be found in cities like Mataram. Taxis are widely available and calculate the fare using a taximeter. They are also relatively inexpensive. If you have a specific place you want to visit or you want to go trekking, there are travel agencies scattered throughout the island, that can link you up with an organised tour and guide.

What tour operators can I contact? 

An official travel agent on Lombok will set you up for a thorough tour or excursion. The top tour operators on the island are:

Lombok Inbound Travel

Insisting that visitors get the most out of their trip to Lombok, this company offers free maps and complete guidance ensuring that you get the most pleasant trip.  Their address is: JL Tongkol / Floor 1 15 / BTN Gerya, Senggigi, Batu Layar, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia. Tel +61 8 8120 0246

Adventure Lombok Tour

There address is: Jl. Raya Senggigi KM 8 Senggigi Art Market Arcade KT II No. 2 Batulayar, Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara, Senggigi, Batu Layar, West Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara 83355, Indonesia

Tel +62 812-3811-1101

HaLoMi Trekker: Lombok Tour & Trekking

These specialize in organizing tours and trekking to Mt. Rinjani. They are located at: Senaru, Bayan, North Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara 83354, Indonesia

Tel +62 878-6434-9064

Lombok Travel Asia

As well as fishing and snorkelling tours, these guys will also give you a great Lombok city tour. This includes visiting the Balinese temples. There knowledge of the temples is second to none, ensuring a really interesting trip.

There address and telephone number is: Jl. Raya Senggigi KM.12, Senggigi, Batu Layar, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia, 83355

Tel: +62 81 736 2322

Do I need a visa to visit Lombok? 

Yes! You pay $35 when you first arrive in Indonesia at your place of entry. The visa is valid for 30 days for tourism, family visitation, and other purposes.

Helpful Indonesian phrases

The locals adore that you try to communicate in their mother tongue!

  • Selamat Pagi: Good morning
  • Selamat Siang: Good afternoon
  • Selamat sore: Good evening
  • Selamat Malam: Good night
  • Apa Kabar?: How are you? – Kabar Baik: I’m good
  • Terima Kasih: Thank you
  • Sama Sama: You are welcome
  • Yes/No: Ia/ Tidak

Day 1

Surfing in ‘Paradise’

When you arrive in Lombok from Bali, take a taxi to the surfing Mecca of Kuta. (Not to be confused with Kuta on Bali as this place is much more laid-back.) At the airport, there is a desk where you can buy a voucher for the taxi ride to Kuta, or you can go outside and arrange it yourself among the keen local taxi drivers.

As soon as you arrive in Kuta, whether you intend to surf or not, you’ll notice straight away that Kuta is on the map for its very attractive beaches. You’ll no doubt be instantly enticed to want to get changed into your swimming clothes right away.

Based on the reviews I had read, I stayed at the Mana Retreat and loved everything about it. If you ever want to find a place where you could kick-back and unwind this would be it. The views outside of your window, are to die for.

Built in a traditional Indonesian style around a beautiful tropical garden and pool, the Mana Retreat is also a yoga school and has the most refreshing wellness spa to indulge in. I paid just 70,000IDR, about $5.00 to get from Lombok Airport to Kuta and the ride only took me about 25 minutes.

Having arrived in the afternoon, I tried a delicious local dish called Ayam Taliwang. This Indonesian spiced dish, is one of the culinary icons of Lombok that will always fondly remind me of the region. Eating in the hotel’s restaurant was a great choice that allowed me to experiment with some rather tasty local produce. Also the menu here is quite diverse and they provide some excellent vegan and vegetarian dishes to cater for most dietary needs.

Finally after a pleasant late afternoon stroll to the local resort’s beach, a place that I renamed ‘Beach of Tranquility’, I returned to the hotel to unwind and take advantage of the oasis like swimming pool.

Day 2

After the most amazing relaxing bathing in Kuta, I decided to head on up to Lombok’s main tourist area of Senggigi. Well in the guide books it said that this was the main touristy area of Lombok, but to be honest, on the day I went it was quieter than expected. However, having less crowds and so much nature to enjoy, this is where the real treasure lay.

Trying to be a little more frugal with my funds, I stayed at the Sendok Hotel right in the centre of Senggigi. The place was nice and comfortable and only a five-minute walk to the beach. The beach is practically in the centre of town and is the place to go to see a spectacular sunset, but the place to swim and have a good time is Kerangdangan beach just to the north.

Here you will find plenty of western style restaurants and places selling fresh seafood for lunch. In the island’s native Sasak language, Lombok translated means chilli. When you sample some of the local cuisine made with mouthwatering fresh ingredients you will find out why; you’ll usually be offered something called sambal. This is a rich, spicy sauce made from local chilli peppers grown in the countryside of Lobok.

 Day 3

It’s easy to enjoy the tranquility in Lombok

 Get ready to get wet on a snorkeling adventure to what many people call the most beautiful islands in all of Indonesia.

The Gili Islands are a group of three small islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air located just off the northwest coast of Lombok. Famous for their unspoiled palm-fringed beaches, the Gili’s are surrounded by coral reefs just teeming with fluorescent fish and marine life.

I booked my trip to the Gili Islands with Lombok Travel Asia, and it included an English-speaking guide, all snorkel gear, and a packed lunch.

There aren’t too many places in the world where you can swim with turtles, which for me made the Gili Islands the highlight of my trip.

Day 4

I was intrigued and tempted to trek to the summit of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano that towers over Lombok at 3,726 m (12,224ft).

To make the trip would take a minimum of two days that included camping overnight. I got talking to a couple from Australia who said they had just done it, but if they had known how difficult it was they wouldn’t have made the trek. This kind of put me off as they looked super fit and while I am in good shape, I didn’t have two days and any needed recovery time left to spare. So I passed on that and decided to spend the day checking out Lombok’s capital Mataram. If this is your first trip to Indonesia a visit to the city is a must as it gives you a real vibe for the place.

Easily the most striking building in Lombok is the green-and-gold mosque. The mosque was superficially damaged during the 2018 earthquake, but you can still go to the top of the tallest minaret for panoramic views of the city. After the Islamic centre, I went to Cakranegara Market hoping to find something to take home as a souvenir. Unfortunately, it was more of a food market and not the local crafts I was looking for. Asking around I was directed to the market across the street from Mandalika bus terminal. There I found exactly what I was looking for, a beautiful handmade cane basket for half the price I had seen them selling for in Bali.

Day 5

One of Lombok’s serene waterfalls

 Even though I had decided that climbing Mount Rinjani in the time remaining was too difficult, I still wanted to visit one of the starting points of the trek. The village of Senaru is at an altitude of 600 metres, so it’s a little cooler than down on the coast and has some excellent walks that include a couple of amazing waterfalls. While it is possible to visit the waterfalls on your own, I found it easier to hire a guide. Firstly, this gave me someone to answer my questions, while at the same time stopping people from asking me if I needed a guide. The scenery around Senaru is spectacular, so you will have no end of ‘national geographic quality’ photographs to share.

All in all, I really admired Lombok and its laid back style compared to the more touristy Bali. The Gili Islands experience and swimming with a turtle were a joy to behold. Being up close and personal with a complex, yet friendly creature that seemingly enjoyed my interaction, left me wonder-stricken. A treasured memory that will stay with me forever.

If I were to come back to Lombok, I would be sure to gain even more gem-like experiences. What I’ve also learned, is how to detox from any deep anxieties. My future travel itinerary would suggest something like this;

  1. Spend the first few days simply chilling out on the gorgeous white sands, and cool down in the transparent, calm water.
  2. Take time to observe the local fishermen just after sunrise, who really do ‘whistle as they work’ and appear not to have another care in the world.
  3. Absorb the amazing sunsets whilst sipping chilled coconut water and lime.
  4. Explore as many of the local islands as possible, and keep a diary of all the enlightening experiences.

 

Another Enlightening experience in Lombok
Another Enlightening experience in Lombok
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