Often overlooked by travellers who’ve been lured to neighbouring Bali, Lombok is a somewhat quieter cousin, sitting pretty well away from mass tourism but allowing visitors to truly unwind among equally stunning rolling rice paddies, mountains and sparkling waters.
It has beautiful beaches, sunsets and amazing dive spots. If you’re pressed for time, here’s a Lombok itinerary that spans 2 days, allowing a relaxing pace yet covers the best highlights of things to do in Lombok.
Lombok Itinerary: Day 1
Morning: Gila over Gili
Spread over 10km of coastal road, most of Lombok’s main tourist destination, Senggigi is blissfully quiet until the bars on the main drag start pumping at night. If you hire a scooter, you’ll see a lot more of the scenery.
Pack a flask of coffee and head up to Malimbu Hill for sunrise. You’ll get a sense of perspective as you gaze at the panorama, including the islands Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
Afternoon: Where the Water Falls
A local guide can show you the real Lombok, and better still you can hire someone for as long as you need. A bit of haggling should land you a chirpy, personal guide with an air-conditioned car (trust us, you’ll need this) for around US$10 an hour. They might have some of their own suggestions for your Lombok itinerary – it’s always great to take local tips.
Driving north will take you through some seriously mind-blowing scenery. You can walk or ask your guide to stop and help you hire a mountain bike along the way, and cycle through coffee plantations.
You’ll get to sample vanilla, coffee and cocoa, take those obligatory photos against gorgeous lush backdrops and refresh your weary limbs by swimming in a waterfall.
Heading slightly west on the way back, you’ll see farmers working in the rice fields, or in tiny villages making bricks and weaving bamboo. The kids will run up to you begging for photos – something you should do in that flattering afternoon sunlight.
If you find yourself close enough, ask your driver to stop at the Mount Pengsong Temple. The views of the Lombok strait, Ampenan and Mataram are breathtaking.
Evening: Senggigi Sunset & Nasi Goreng
Senggigi beach is top on the list of places to go in Lombok for any visitor, so when evening falls you should head back there – for good reason. Sunset at Senggigi is something you simply cannot miss.
Watch the sunset over Mount Agung with a cocktail at Verve Beach Club and Restaurant (Jalan Raya Mangsit, Lombok; US$20 for two). It’s made even more amazing by the silhouettes of fisherman reeling in their catch from the shoreline. Several Lombok resorts also offer a spectacular view, including Qunci villas.
CC 2.0 /Ari T / jack4ya
Any of the local warungs will whip you up some Nasi Goreng (fried rice with vegetables, and some chicken or beef) but there are plenty of Western options for dinner.
Try Warung Belindo – Roast Chicken House (Jalan Raya Senggigi, Duduk, 3km south of Senggigi; less than US$25 for two), for crispy chicken, crunchy salad and delicious fries, or the popular Australian-inspired The Cowshed (Jalan Raya Senggigi, Batu Layar; less than US$35 for two) for cold beer and more meat than you can probably handle.
For drinks, head to Happy Café (Jalan Raya Senggigi). It’s as delightful as it sounds and they serve up live music most nights.
Lombok Itinerary: Day 2
Morning: Diving in Lombok
If you’d rather be in the water than on land, scuba diving and snorkelling is a must in Lombok for day two, especially around the Gili Islands. All three are popular with luxury-seeking travellers and backpackers alike. Thankfully you can explore them all in a day.
After nipping over to Nipah Bay to catch a boat, you can island hop and snorkel over sunken wrecks and scuba divers. Just ask for a day tour from Trawangan when you get there.
Look down and look out for the magical man-made reefs that are starting to take shape, thanks to miles of copper structures on the ocean floor. They channel mild electrical currents to encourage the coral to grow up to eight times faster than normal. Impressive.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see green turtles, ghost fish, angel fish and you might even find Nemo as you free-dive down to pose on a carefully positioned sunken motorcycle.
You’ll quickly see why Lombok is hailed as one of the best spots for diving
CC 2.0 / R@úl
Afternoon: Myths & Legends of Lombok
Make some time on your Lombok itinerary to do nothing more than soak up the sun and chat to the locals on Gili Trawangan. Those who speak good English will love to share stories of myths and legends as you sip your cocktails on colourful sandy cushions, or sit bikini clad on barstools. Believing in witches and spirits is big in Lombok.
Hungry? For simple Indonesian food in Lombok, get your late-afternoon lunch or dinner at the market, when stalls selling fish and rice dishes will lure you in with fragrant wafts.
The cafes along the beachfront offer a huge variety of dining options too, from Indian to Italian, to seafood. Try the buffet and grill at Scallywags – the ribs and butterfish are to die for.
Watch out for horses and bikes though. There are no cars on the Gili islands, but in busy season the strip on Trawangan becomes a frantic freeway of wheels and hoofs
Final Evening in Lombok: The Strip
You can catch a boat back to the mainland, however, you might fall in love with the Gili Islands and want to stay a night, especially when people start to talk about the infamous parties on ‘the strip’ on Gili Trawangan.
They are most often at the Irish Bar, Tir Na Nog and Blue Marlin Dive. Stay at Pearl of Trawangan – a boutique hotel on Gili Trawangan, in the best location on the main drag.
You’ll have to catch the morning boat back to Lombok, but for a healthy smoothie and a delicious European breakfast before you go, beat the hangover at Kebun – a cute cafe offering organic options.
Hold on for the ride on the way back! Those waters can be choppy.