Jun 15

Beautiful coastal roads with scenic bays around LombokLombok is an Indonesian island just east of Bali. It is slightly smaller and not so densely populated but features breath-taking sceneries and amazing landscapes.

Outside of Asia, nobody probably heard of this island, which is said to provide a pleasant holiday experience; sort of an “unspoiled Bali”.

Let’s change that a bit!

While both islands share a lot of similarities, Lombok has its own attractions and plenty of contrasts as well. This trip report from last week shows where are the differences and what would be worth checking out during your trip to Lombok:

What can be found?

First, it has a mainly Muslim population, compared to Bali, which is almost 90% Hindu right in the middle in Islamic Indonesia. Lombok is literally plastered with Mosques in all varieties. The biggest and most colorful ones we found in the south-eastern part of the island around the area of Selong.

One of many colorful Mosques in LombokBut every small village and town features at least one Mosque, most bigger settlements have 2 or 3 and almost everywhere it seems new ones are currently build.

Roads are generally in good shape and with less traffic, so it’s really fun to rent a bike or car and drive your way around the island, which is rich in natural wonders like waterfalls, hot springs, rice paddies, beaches and unspoiled bays, mountains and trekking paths. There are still plenty of colorful horse carts operated like they’ve been for hundreds of years.

The island is full with animals – both domestic and wild – and you will see your fair share of cows, ox, monitor lizards, countless bird species, goats, cats, dogs, pigs and whatever else is running around on 4 legs or flying through the air.

Traditional villages (Kampungs) are nested at mountain slopes and long-winding roads lead you to the most remote places on the island. Traffic is of low density and in most places you will still even see Horse Carts, which are used to transport good, people and produce around the island.Horse cart in Lombok

The majestic Mount Rinjani Volcano is a 3,726m high peak, which features an impressive crater lake and caldera, which can both be visited, hiked or trekked along well-marked routes.

How to get there?

While Lombok features an international airport with direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, most tourists will either arrive from Jakarta or other Indonesian airports, or by ferry from Bali. There is also a fast boat (Gili Cat) directed from Bali’s Padang Bai directly to the Gilis, a group of 3 small pristine islands, located in the north of Lombok. The Gili Cat is probably the fastest, though not cheapest mode of transportation to get there from Bali, the whole trip is only taking 2 hours.

Departing to Lombok via Ferry from Padang Bai, BaliLast week we took the cheaper way with the regular ferry. These are starting from Padang Bai in the eastern part of Bali. You can either go as a passenger or with your own (rented) bike or car. Ferries are said to go every 2 hours around the clock, although heavy weather or stormy sea will see cancellations. The one-way ferry trip takes about 5-6 hours, per bike you will currently pay Rp 85.000. On the ferry itself you can sit on one of up to 3 decks or can rent a private cabin for an additional Rp 50.000, where you can sleep in a bunk bed for more convenient travel. We found the cabins well worth the added costs, as you have more room to stretch your bones and are not confined to a small bench seat in the main compartments.

What to do in Lombok?

Pristine, clean beaches and clear waters in North LombokBeing in Lombok for the first time and having only 4 days, we decided to simply drive around the whole island and check out the most favorite sites. Thus we would get a better overview on where to spend some more days the next time around.

Getting around is pretty easy, give the fact that we brought our motor scooters. From the harbor town Lembar, it’s only a 45 minute drive up to Senggigi, the most touristy spot on the whole island. Here you can find plenty of accommodation in all price ranges, although I found the hotel prices a bit more expensive than comparable venues in Bali.

Pristine Lombok Bay, white sand, crystal-blue watersRestaurants are aplenty, most feature live bands in the evenings and they even have some disco or bar entertainment options in the evenings although on a very small scale. The surrounding beaches near Senggigi are good for snorkeling or a swim, but pretty stony compared to other bays more in the North.

Still, for staying your first night and enjoying great food, meeting other travelers and inquiring about road conditions or directions to other more remote natural sights, it could be your first choice in Lombok.

Leaving Senggigi into northern direction is where the fun really starts. Just within 2-4 hours of driving the long-winding coastal road, you will find Waterfalls, Hot springs, pristine and secluded beaches in black, gray or white colors aplenty. The northern shores are picture-perfect and more than once you will find yourself in awe of the beautiful landscape.

The 3 Gili Islands as seen from the northern shores of LombokAfter a short drive you will also notice 3 islands just north of the shores of Lombok, the famous Gilis (Trawangan, Meno and Air) which will accompany you for a while as you drive your way up and downhill along the shore.

If you want to cross over the small straight to the Gilis – the port village Pemenang will be your best bet to catch one of the many small boats or catamarans, which commute from here frequently and at much cheaper rates than from further away Senggigi.

Water everywhere

Apart from the beautiful bays and beaches, water seems to be a main attraction in Lombok. There are countless hot springs where you can rest your achy bones and waterfalls, which will refresh you in no time.

Gangga Waterfall in North LombokThe first waterfall you will find on your way is a smaller one, called Gangga Waterfall. That’s where this other post relates to. It’s in the middle of nowhere, a bit harder to reach, about 7-15km south from the main road over a sloppy and pot-whole infested small track towards the mountains.

But the view you will get when reaching there is quite amazing. Nested in Rice Paddies with the mountains as your background, the Gangga Waterfall consists actually of 3 smaller separate falls, one hidden behind a small track through the rocks in a shady cave-like hall. They have as well a bat cave further down the stream, if you don’t mind tracking another 10 minutes through the rice paddies.

After you could rest a while, drinking strong, home-grown Lombok Coffee, spiked with fresh Bourbon Vanilla Beans or Chocolate Fruit, which are grown here in the paddies as well.

80 meter Sendang Gile Waterfall near Senaru in North LombokA good place to spend the night is Senaru, further east on the coastal road, which is a starting point for trekking Gunung Rinjani, the highest peak on Lombok, as well. Reaching the crater and Mount Rinjani can be a bit tough though, as it will take at least 2 days for the tour. You will have to spend the night in a base camp, starting the final approach to the top the next day around 2am, just reaching the summit around 6am, when the sun rises and reveals a great view over the crater lake and even to neighboring Gunung Agung of Bali, if there is clear sight.

Not that you will get bored in Senaru, if you don’t like to trek mountains. Did I mention Waterfalls already? This is the place, if you want to see more than one bigger one in just a short time. You have 3 huge cascades in short proximity, about 10-15 minutes jungle trekking from each other. The Sendang Gile Waterfall alone is 80 meters in height and although you can walk to the base of it, I would recommend against it. The forces of the water are so powerful, that it would probably smash you to pieces. You can enjoy a bath in its spray though, if you feel too hot after the short jungle trip down the cemented stairs.

Afraid of Water? Head into the mountains!

Enough of water already? No problem. Just follow the main road eastwards, until you see a sign to ‘Sajang’. Don’t stop here, as there is nothing to see. Drive further north up the mountain slopes until you reach the pass across into a beautiful valley with 2 villages grown together, called Sembalu Lawang and Sembalun Bumbung.

Morning Mist in the Valley near Sembalun Bumbung in North East LombokYou should reach there before night falls, as there is limited electricity on the way and when it’s getting dark – it’s really getting dark! Only the stars can guide you now. Make sure you wear some warmer clothes than just your usual T-shirt and bermudas. As soon as the sun will set, temperatures drop here significantly. It was only between 10-15 degrees Celsius, when we reached there, but some locals told us that temperatures can drop as low as 2-3 Celsius.

Morning Mist near Sembalun Bumbung in North East LombokI can tell you that 10-15 windy degrees feel already like early winter in Europe, even when wearing 3 T-shirts and long cotton pants. Definitely something to consider for better preparation next time. ;-)

Unfortunately there aren’t many options to stay the night here, just 2 or 3 homestays for mountains trekkers, pretty basic, but you will probably have to shell out around Rp. 150.000 when coming late.

You can rent a trekking guide here to bring you into the crater lake with a small volcano cone in the middle, you can find Makake monkeys here, lizards, another couple of hot springs and plenty of rare highland flora and fauna.

Mount Rinjani Volcano in Lombok on a cloudless dayOf course Mount Rinjani gives you a spectacular sight, throning over the whole scenery, but the mountains around the valley are equally impressive. Take a look at the pictures left and right and you will know what I mean.

It’s almost an unbelievable mystic sight to star at a cloudless sky at night. I never seen so many stars so near, illuminating the whole area in a fantastic way. The whole Milky Way is visible and you can easily recognize plenty of the usual stars and famous constellations.

The village life in 2.000 meters is pretty slow, but that doesn’t prevent the locals from going their usual ways. Colorful morning markets pop up the the early mists of the day, the whole setting has something surreal in it.Morning Market in Sembalun Bumbung in Lombok

Leaving the mountains behind

Coming down from the mountains you will reach the eastern shores passing Sapit, reaching Labuhan Lombok, a popular starting point for exploring the eastern parts of the island, for snorkeling or other water sports.

Fishermen in a flooded plain throwing their nets near Selong, south-east LombokThe whole southern area of Lombok is the least developed and you will drive through many scenic villages and agricultural areas on your way westward.

If you want you can make a shortcut to Lombok’s Kuta beach, although we found it a bit disappointing. Kuta saw its ups and downs and there are even some 5 star developments, but the whole place looks a bit deserted and rundown.

It’s said that tourism catches up here in August or September, when the Kuta will see plenty of surfers. Still it can be an interesting spot, if you seek tranquility and empty beaches, with a few good food options thrown in. Fresh seafood you can get here in abundance and the locals seem friendly enough not to rip you off or trying to sell you something every few meters.Deserted Kuta Beach in South Lombok


To get an overview of Lombok, it could be a good idea to drive around the whole island in just a few days. Still I would recommend it only if you want to soak in as much as possible in a short time frame.

It would be a better option to either take more time – let’s say at least a week – or concentrate on the areas of your interest only.

Especially if you plan to trek Mount Rinjani or any of the other mountains, you probably don’t want to rush through. Good preparation clothing and equipment-wise should be the key. Of course you can get everything here as well, but expect to pay more than bringing your own stuff. Trekking can be quite exhausting as well, so why not plan some recovery time at one of the many beaches?

Driving in Lombok is a pleasant and easy experience – due to the easy traffic conditions. Avoid driving at night, as the odd pothole among general good road conditions can easily derail you and spoil your further plans. Insects are abundant during night time as well, even at higher altitude. We had plenty of encounters with swarms of flying ants, grass hoppers and others, not-so-easily-identifiable crawling creatures. The lights of your bike attracts them in numbers you won’t even imagine. ;-)

Kymco Breakdown near MataramOf yeah, the mountains can be quite demanding to your driving equipment, read: bike. But if you break down, as happened to my old trusty Kymco Scooter, fret not. There are plenty of small garages in every town, called ‘Bengkel’. The locals will help you with plenty of effort and for small fees.

For larger repairs it could pay to drag yourself at least to a town called Sweta, near Mataram, which even calls itself ‘Desa Bengkel’ – the Village of Garages – as almost every brand of manufacturers has a larger local branch here. I saw Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Kymco, Kawasaki and dozens of other garages.

As the drive chain was the culprit of my breakdown, we had to tie 2 large towels together to pull my bike to the next station, about 15 kilometer. Imagine that scenario in Europe or Australia, I’m not sure if that would be possible. Here you will get only lots of hand wavings and friendly laughter, ‘wishing you luck’ along the way. ;-)

So, will I return?

For sure, the Gili Islands are still on top of my list and I simply can’t get enough of Waterfalls and Hot Springs! Will probably concentrate a bit more on the northern part and maybe even climbing a bit is an option for a future visit. After all I missed out on the fantastic Crater Lake, which isn’t accessible with a vehicle.

What were your highlights in Lombok? Can you recommend an interesting, not-so-well-known spot on this beautiful island? Or would give this place a miss, favoring other shores instead? Please help other readers to complete the picture by commenting via the form below.

If you did read until here you might want to check out my pictures of Lombok here or a short video of the Sendang Gile Waterfall here.

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written by Chris

26 Responses to “Around Lombok in 4 days – if you are insane enough”

  1. BorisNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    Lombok is fantastic. The climb to the top of Gunung Rinjani is absolutely worth it. I’ve liked Kuta as well. Nothing as big as it’s counterpart on Bali, but that is a good thing. Loads of empty unspoilt beaches and diving with hammerheads (if you’re lucky). MInd you, I was in Kuta like 7 years ago, so that might have changed.

    2005 I lived on Gili Tralala (Trawangan) for a year. Don’t let Bangsal, the village for ferries to the Gilis, scare you off. The people there are master scammers and I wouldn’t trust anyone trying to sell you something at the harbour. Best way to get to the islands is booking a dive with a school, then you get picked up in Senggigi for free. I would stay on Gili Air, cause it’s more traditional and quieter.

    It’s a big misconception that all of Indonesia is Muslim. There are loads of smaller islands and archipelagos with large Christian or animistic communities.

  2. devariNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    when you are in Lombok, do not forget to try the ‘susu kuda liar’ (wild horse milk). its a famous amongst local, good to boost your stamina

  3. MillyNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    I haven’t been to Lombok since my backpacking days in the early 90’s but do remember it as being very beautiful. Glad to hear the south is still pretty undeveloped. We hired bikes and even back then the roads were pretty good.
    We are thinking of returning this year, but with 2 kids. Do you know if you can you hire a car in Lombok? Bikes are definitely out for us these days and we would love to explore a bit.

  4. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    With its mainly Moslem population, it is interesting to note there are also disco bars as one of the night entertainment in the area.
    I wonder whether that was a rented scooter you had there or you reall bring your scooter into the island…
    Seeing those set of photos, this island is undeniably one of the few unexplored paradise here on earth. I hope it will remain “unspoilt” for both tourists and locals to enjoy with and be spared with the so-called commercialization…

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Boris, I checked out the travel pictures on your site – absolute fantastic! Flores and Komodo are definitely on top of my list as well. Quite embarrassing, when I think how long I live here now and haven’t even made it over there yet. L-)

    devari – wild horse milk? Uh, ahem, I’m not so sure if my stomach could shoulder that. Did yours? :-o

    Milly – I’m sure you can rent a car in Lombok. In fact I saw some signs in Senggigi of Car Rentals, but didn’t check the prices. Can’t be that much more than Bali, where a 4 seater currently goes for Rp 80.000, a 6 seater for Rp. 120-160.000 per day. Gasoline is anyway the same price at all Pertamina stations country-wide. There was some talk about competition, but so far I didn’t see any foreign gas stations. Will be hard for them to compete anyway, as Pertamina plasters currently every available corner with new stations, at least here in Bali. ;-)

    dodong – actually most Muslims in Indonesia are quite relaxed and moderate. At least the younger generation loves to go to discos or pubs from time to time as well. Okay, you can’t take the example of Jakarta for the whole country, but then, most discos in Lombok are probably built for the tourists anyway. Have to invest some more time next visit to confirm that, though.

    The scooter I brought was my own, a 4-5 year old Kymco Jetmatic. Quite rundown, but the engine and brakes are still good, that’s what counts for me. Somehow I adjusted too well to the local attitude “not to fix, what isn’t broken”. Maintenance is a foreign word here and the rubber drive chain should actually be changed every 20.000 kilometer. Good to know that it lasted 42.000 km all in all. :D

    Labor is cheap here, so after a Kymco technician exchanged the part within 30 minutes, we were ready to continue. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that it broke sunday evening, so we had to spend the night in Sweta to wait for the garage to open the next morning. Talking about thirst for adventure….. :-/

  6. Budget Travel ManNo Gravatar SPAIN Says:

    Makes me laugh how so many people slag of Kuta,Bali all the time. Seems to be a national sport for many.

    Compared to the Costas in Spain it aint that bad!

  7. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Thanx for the additional info, Chris. Somehow it was not clear to me whether you brought your scooter with you or it was a rented one (though I know earlier in this site that you own one Kymco).

    Well, every Moslem country differ in standard, too! I think it is more strict in Malaysia as compared to Indonesia. I haven’t been in those two countries yet but that was what I learned from friend’s account.

    Good luck to your further adventure and I’ll be reading your Camiguin account later today…

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Budget Travel Man, it may be fun for some action or going out, but if you stay here longer, you have the feeling that most of the gangsters and lowlife around concentrate in that area. It’s just not the ‘real’ Bali. ;-)

    dodong, I didn’t write much about Camiguin at that time, but here are some pictures from that trip.

  9. snigdha banikNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    This is really a beautiful blog. I have done business with Indonesian people but never visited the lovely place. I am also worried that there are terrorists in this lovely country. I will surely when time and finance permit visit the place. Chris will you be willing to help me on my trip?

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    snigdha banik, don’t worry too much about terrorists. I guess if you believe those policies of fear, you can’t travel to any country anymore. There were terrorists in the US, England, Spain and elsewhere as well, but would you rather not travel to those countries?

    Sure, I can try to help you with planning your trip. What do you want to know? ;-)

  11. Mats - Notes about the WorldNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    It’s lovely to see pictures of Lombok like this. I spent almost three weeks with a friend, a car and two surf boards there three years ago – it was fantastic.

    I have a series of pictures here I think would send anyone longing back to the island of the sasaks: http://www.einarsen.no/Indonesia/Lombok/Lombok.html :)

  12. Travel on a Shoestring Carnival: Asia, Oz #6 « Less Than a Shoestring UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Wrapping up this week, nomad4ever Chris drags his broken motorscooter across an “unspoiled” Indonesian island near Bali in Around Lombok in 4 days – if you are insane enough. […]

  13. Garret ClarkeNo Gravatar TAIWAN Says:

    I just stumbled upon this page, and I just got back from Lombok about a week ago. It was amazing and completely unspoiled by tourism. We climbed Mt. Rinjani, three days of difficult hiking, but worth every step. If you are interested in pictures head to my website and there will be some up there in a few days.

    Great Article!!



  14. JOanaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Wow, really amazing pics! :D I even never went to Lombok, but I’m 100% sure that I will go there after getting my school day off :D what can we do in Gili island instead of just sitting in cafe and do nothing?

  15. Living the Good Life in Bali - a Wrap up after 2 Years | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] a bike or car around the island and explore its hidden gems. Check out its neighboring islands like Lombok, Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan. Having driven myself about 25.000 km in the last 2 years on my […]

  16. ryanNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    haha :D is so funny chris,but well is nice pics.lombok is fantastic i love crossing in central indonesia is much pretty and amazing.dive and trekking is my favorit but now i still get finish my study in singapore and EXACTLY i always flew to gili tralala(trawangan),bali,rinca islands flores and much more in my weekend.is ti you still in indonesia haha kidding but thanks your blog fun of adventure,so you guys want go to my indonesia just ask chris ;-)

  17. floridaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    hey chris just arrive of couple day in singapore can you tell me what the best trip around bali and lombok in our next trip.thanks cheers….florida

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Hi Florida, that’s really a tough call! How many days did you plan for Bali and Lombok and what are your interests? There are so many things to do and see in Bali and Lombok, only you can know what would suit you. You can go diving, trekking, snorkelling, visit volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, laze around at beaches, rice paddies, do bird watching, see endangered animal species. Stay in budget, mid-range, high-style accommodation, eat and drink in local Warungs, Budget Eateries, fine-dine cuisine temples, hang out in discos, pubs, bars, karaoke joints. Which one is yours? ;-)

  19. camillaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Hey chris,what do you think if for invest to make traditional resort in indonesia mostly like bali or lombok area.because i have new project to make traditional resort as possible with the unique nature please give me advise thanks….camilla :)

  20. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Camilla, good question! If that is your dream and you have a project already – I would say, go for it! On the other hand, in the current economic climate I would be careful to invest a lot of money, as it is pretty uncertain, how things will turn out. Especially Bali is quite overdeveloped already, you have also traditional or green resorts left and right already. Lombok might be a better idea, but it could as well take many years more, before you even see Return on Investment.

  21. camillaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Thanks chris for advise and i will very carefully,love your blog always by camilla :)

  22. AndyNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Hi Chris, just wondering , i noticed u owned your scooter but do you know what the deal is with rentals…. i heard u get hit up by the police at the ferry to pay for insurance that doesn’t cover lombok… do lots of people take rental bike over or just get them on arrival in it would be a pain to ride around bali return it on bali- transfer to padang bai -ferry and get another rental in lembar… hoping to keep the same bike and pray it makes it back …

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Andy, I didn’t have any problems with police in either Padang Bai or Lombok. I know of some people who take their rental bikes over to Lombok also. Best, make sure with rental guys, that you can go to Lombok also. That shouldn’t costs any extras – and if simply move on to the next bike rental. There are so many these days and you should be able to get some small bike like Mio for 25K Rupiah per day, or Varios/Nuovos for anything 30-35K per day.

    The police in Bali is a lot more toned down these days, not so aggressive like still a few years ago. Seems the new governor and the efforts of the anti-corruption agency (KPK) paid off somewhat.

    Have a nice trip! ;-)

  24. ColinNo Gravatar JAPAN Says:

    Excellent read. Still the best thing to do is just go and thats what I plan. Going to Bali for 16 days, but not really sure how much time to spend where. Snorkeling being a priority I am thinking of staying on Gili Air for maybe 5 nights or more depending on how much time others think (as i have no idea) i need for bali and lombok. Is Biking on a rental bike doable on Lombok, or would that just take too long and not really get me anywhere? Where should I plant my base on Lombok if I go there or is it better to stay in different areas? :)

  25. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Colin, sounds like a plan! Renting bicycles in Lombok is doable and your progress depends of course on your determination. I would prefer a small scooter though. Having a base around Mataram or Senggigi could help somewhat, but if you are more adventurous, you can as well keep going forward, you definitely won’t get lost! ;-)

  26. Travel on a Shoestring Carnival: Asia, Oz #6 — Less Than a Shoestring UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Wrapping up this week, nomad4ever Chris drags his broken motorscooter across an “unspoiled” Indonesian island near Bali in Around Lombok in 4 days – if you are insane enough. […]

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