Finally it was time to hit Lombok – an island we wanted to visit for sooo long. We stayed for a relatively short time, because we also planned to visit Komodo and cruise around Flores, but we tried to do the best of our time there.
International airport: yes
Roads: good, not too crowded
Careful: Indonesia requires a special int.drivers licence
You can arrive by boat or plane.
We came from the Gili islands, where the public ferry from Gili Air costs 12.000 IDR. But careful at the port on Lombok! If you booked a combined tickets with transfer to either Senggigi or Kuta, a representative of the office will wait for you there. Then someone else will try to get you into a horse carriage in order to bring you to the office from where your car or minibus departs. Don’t be fooled – you will have to pay for this 3 min drive. The office representative will not try to stop you or tell you not to drive – when asked why they let them rip us off, they just say they don’t know. Thanks to our friends Sabina and Miha we knew about this. Also don’t expect to depart by car/bus from the office right away – we had to wait for almost 30-45 min, so a guy who had to catch his flight had to grab a taxi.
Where to stay
The 2 most developed tourist hot-spots are Sengigi in the west and Kuta in the south. We decided to stay in Kuta as the beaches were suppose to be nicer there (later we saw it’s true). There are enough accommodation options in both areas, many restaurants, ATMs, super markets, motorbike rentals.
This is more of a village than a town, but the 2 main streets are filled with everything what a traveler’s heart desires. Not far from this center is a huge promenade, which is currently quite unused, but I’m sure in a few years it will serve its purpose. You can still see local fishermen, a local market etc. Be aware that almost everywhere outside the center of the village they will charge 5000 IDR for parking (beaches, promenade …). If you want to visit the beautiful beaches around Kuta, you’ll have to rent a motorbike – but good news: the roads are really good; much wider than on Bali, not crowded and way better than on Nusa Penida. Kuta is a surfers heaven, but also good for beach lovers.
We didn’t stay in Sengigi, but we visited for half a day to check out the beach. We weren’t very impressed by the main beach there, as half of it was reserved for a posh hotel, the other half was ok for swimming and sunbathing, but nothing special. There were many locals selling snacks, drinks and souvenirs.
Senaru is in the north, in the middle of beautiful rice fields and on the foot of the mighty Mount Rinjani. We stayed here for a night and absolutely loved it – the sunrise was really memorable, the sunset was sooo colorful and the locals were really nice. Our initial plan was to hike Rinjani, but because of the recent earthquake the top was still closed. But more about mount Rinjani at the Activities section below.
We prefer the scooter, so we rented one for the entire stay. We drove around Kuta, Mataram, Sengigi all the way up to Senaru. The driving is ok, you just have to get used to left side driving 😉
The other option is to rent a car or a car with a driver.
Where to eat
There are many restaurants in all the tourist spots with food for all tastes and budgets. We can recommend the following:
Bamba in Kuta
The portions here were a bit small, but the food was really good. We had a tempeh bun and fried squid (yes, shame on me), but my favourite was the vegan passionfruit cheesecake. The entire place is really relaxing and it gives you a true holiday feeling.
Yogi Bar in Kuta
We had dinner twice here. The first time it was really good, great service etc., the second time it was a disaster (we got the wrong food, the bill was not ok etc.), but the food was still ok. We tried the vegetarian curry with wild brown rice, tempeh scewers, buddha bowl.
Warung Buana in Senggigi
On our way from Senaru we were starving, so we decided to eat in Senggigi. We also wanted to have some fast food so we opted for pizza. We found Warung Buana online and it felt like we won the lottery – the staff was incredible nice, the pizzas were freshly made in an electric owen and tasted soooooo good. I even went for desert – a chocolate cake, which was ok, but nothing special.
Everyone comes to Lombok either for the beaches and surfing, to trek the mighty Mount Rinjani and in the first place probably to avoid Bali’s crowds. We can tell you a little bit about these topics 😉
The beaches around Kuta are really beautiful. Our favourite was Selong Belanak, because we could surf there and the local restaurants were cheap and had good food. If you want to learn more about surf spots in Lombok, we found the website Surf Indonesia very helpful. Btw.this is also the beach where a heard of buffalos walks across every day 😉
We had a good time at Pantai Tanjung Aan, where you should wait for the sunset and climb the nearby hill.
Also Mawun and Mawi looked nice, but we didn’t spend much time there as we were more into surfing.
Senggigi beach was a disappointment for us, because it was rather small (half of it belonged to a beach resort), many locals were selling food and drinks, and you could buy souvenirs.
We were surprised by Nipah Beach, a beach north of Sengigi, where we were the only tourists, the water was nice, food stalls were dotted between the lush green trees. But be aware you’ll hardly find any vegetarian or vegan food here, as they mainly serve fish.
Before we headed for the mountains in the north, we stopped for drinks at a local street stand. While chatting with the locals they told us we shouldn’t miss the nearby black sand beach. So we went there. The sand was really black, but we didn’t go for a swim because we wanted to arrive in Senaru before dark.
Not to forget, also the 3 famous Gilis belong to Lombok: Air, Meno and Trawangan. We visited all 3 of them. To find out which one we liked the most and what you can do there please visit our blog post Which Gili island is right for me?
Hiking Mount Rinjani
Our plan was to hike this mountain, but then the locals told us the summit is closed due to the recent earthquake. We could only go as far as to the rim, the paths up the summit and down to the lake were closed. That’s why we decided not to hike up at all and save it for the next time as we’ll definitely come back to Lombok.
If you want to hike up, this is what we learned: There are 4 official gates: Senaru (north), Sembalun (north), Aik Berik (central) and Timbanuh (north). We went to Senaru, where you can hire a guide and porter. The tour to the rim takes 2 days, with 1 night camping on the mountain. You start hiking at around 8AM. They also restricted the number of people on the mountain to 500 (including guides and porters).
We already got some DMs from followers on Instagram, that the summit is open again, but we couldn’t find this info online. So please inform yourself before to avoid disappointment. You can check the not-so-up-to-date Mount Rinjani National Park website, but I saw they are more active on their Facebook page.
There are many more interesting things to do in Lombok, which I’ll list in my next blog 10 things to see and do in Lombok (hopefully soon 😉 ).
I hope I could help you with some basic information about the beautiful island of Lombok. As I already said – we’ll definitely come back (hope as soon as possible). One can tell, they take tourism seriously and they thought it through as the infrastructure (roads) and traffic are much better than on Bali, you can find charming rice fields, stunning waterfalls and the most important thing: the locals – they are genuinely nice.
And also, stay tuned: Jure ‘s going to finished our Lombok vlog this week 😉
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