Welcome to our Lombok itinerary, 5 days of hopping from beach town to surf break to soaring mountain escape on the island across the sea from Bali. We’ve tried to distill the essence of the place into under a week here. It’s not been easy, because there’s oodles to see, but we hope there’s a good mix of Lombok’s highlights and hidden gems.
The trip will involve the shimmering beaches of Senggigi (the main tourist town on Lombok) and the tubular surf breaks of Kuta (not the Kuta in Bali, mind you). It also has long drives through the paddy-covered backcountry and hikes to long-lost waterfalls. Finally, it finishes with a trip to the iconic Gili Islands, which are considered some of the prettiest in the world.
If you happen to have any more time in Lombok than just five days, there’s loads of scope to expand and add to this plan. We’d recommend dropping in a multi-day trek to the incredible crater lakes of Mount Rinjani, visits to each of the Gili Islands in turn, and perhaps even some time on the much less-visited eastern coast of the island.
Day 1 – Sengiggi
About 30 minutes’ drive north of Mataram and about an hour’s drive north of the ports at Lembar, Sengiggi is a good place to begin our Lombok itinerary 5 days. It offers a good intro to the slower pace of the island after Bali, along with some lovely beaches and affordable hotels. Basically, it’s the main tourist center on the island, so expect lots of amenities and good transport links to pretty much anywhere.
There’s lots of choice when it comes to places to stay. If you can afford it, we think it’s worth forking out for somewhere like the classy Sudamala Resort. It’s got an infinity pool overlooking the Bali Sea and stylish villa-style rooms with traditional thatched roofs. Alternatively, there are bargain options on the street behind the beachfront, like the charming and chilled Senggigi Cottages Lombok (which can be $15-20 per night).
First stop after dropping the bags should be the beach. The white-sand stretch of Senggigi Beach is the closest to the center of the resort. That’s an option if you don’t have access to your own ride or don’t want to pay for a taxi. However, Coconut Beach (also known as Kerandangan) is a more beautiful spot, with light waves and backing of swaying palm trees, though it’s just under 10 minutes drive to the north.
You might also want to stop by Pantai Klui. It’s another stretch of beachfront around to the north but has uber-clear water for snorkelers and even an intermediate surf spot. You will have to bring your own board, though, as there’s no rental close to the beach.
After some tanning and swimming time under your belt, beeline back to the center of Senggigi town. It’s time for some tasty Lombok food to cap off this initial chilling day. Hit the main street behind the sands where there’s an abundance of welcoming Indonesian warung (taverns that serve local food). We think the best of them is Warung Buana, which does fantastic nasi goreng rice and particularly good rendang curry.
Afterwards, hit Happy Café for some beers with the backpacker crowd and then move onto the local karaoke joints if you have the energy.
Day 2 – Kuta Lombok
It’s easy to get a taxi from Senggigi to Kuta Lombok but be sure to negotiate on the price. Anything around the 250,000-300,000 IDR ($25-30) mark is okay. The drive itself is a fun one, cutting straight through the heart of the south of the island for about 1.5 hours in all, with visions of lush banana plantations and emerald rice paddies stretching out on both sides.
You can make a pitstop at Sade Village along the way. It’s a traditional Nusa Tenggara town stead with homes made from woven reeds. It’s been home to the Sasak tribe for over 15 generations and now offers a glimpse at the age-old heritage of the island’s people. There are currently only 750 inhabitants of the village, but there are oodles of craft stalls selling handmade fabrics and other curiosities.
Push on past Sade and you’ll soon see the Indian Ocean’s gleaming blue waters swing into view. Welcome to Kuta Lombok. Not to be confused with its namesake across on Bali, this one’s a relaxed, old beach town that’s like the Isle of the Gods was 20 years back. One thing it does have in common with Kuta Bali is that it’s a surf mecca.
Yep, the breaks here are some of the best on Lombok as a whole. They’re not generally for beginners, but intermediate+ surfers should be sure to engage the help of a local fisherman to whisk them out to the reef breaks that flank the bay at Areguling Beach – they are hollow and fast waves that offer a real challenge. Alternatively, Selong Belanak Beach is just to the west, which has some top breaks for total beginners.
After your surf session, take a walk along the beach at Areguling to the east and you can discover some lovely hidden bays. Pantai Tebuak is one of our favorites. It’s a Robinson Crusoe-style inlet with high cliffs rising to its back and some frothing swells out front. Just beware of the naughty macaques that guard the entrance!
There are some nice surf-shack-style accommodations in the Kuta region. We especially like Owa Lodge for its easy-going vibes and relaxing outdoor pool space. It’s also not too expensive. Staying here will also put you in Areguling itself, which is a small surfer town just outside of Kuta proper. It’s a cool place, with an open-air cinema for the evening and some excellent seafood warung that open later on.
Day 3 – Sembulan
After enjoying the glassy waves of the Lombok south coast, it’s time to head up north. That takes you in the direction of hulking Mount Rinjani. It’s a massive volcano that soars nearly 4,000 meters above sea level; very much the centerpiece of the island and one of the most dramatic sights in all of Indonesia.
But first – the trip there. It’s a long one, taking about 3.5 hours in all. But it’s also beautiful, as you weave and wind through some of the more untouched parts of Lombok. Things get prettiest after you turn east at Kopang and into the area of Desa Pengadangan, where verdant rice fields creep right up to the roadside.
(You could make a pitstop at the Pancor Kopong waterfall here. It’s one of the more off-the-beaten-track locations on this Lombok itinerary 5 days, with wild swimming pools in the jungle that are mainly used by the locals.)
The destination for the day is the eco-tourism hub of Sembulan. This is known primarily as the gateway to Mount Rinjani National Park. Sadly, there’s just not enough time on this Lombok itinerary to conquer the mountains (most of the treks to the top take at least three days). However, there are lots of opportunities to get a taste of Lombok’s wilder side without climbing the great volcano itself. So, for the afternoon, you could:
- Hike in Bukit Nanggi – This short hike takes you high above the clouds and offers views of the mighty Rinjani crater from the east. It can be done in about six hours, so you’ll need to get to Sembulan early to complete.
- Bukit Kondo Savana Propok – This field of swaying grass is one of the entranceways to the Mount Rinjani trek, but it’s also now a well-known Instagram spot.
- Strawberry Hill Gardens Ponds – Something a little less strenuous is on offer at the Strawberry Hill Gardens Ponds, where you can pick and enjoy your own berries in the shadow of the mountain.
Day 4 – Tanjung
The way to Tanjung is just as immersive as Tanjung itself. We’d say expect to take more than half the day on the journey, even though the whole thing can be done in just two hours if you went straight at it. The reason? You’re going to be passing through waterfall country. Seriously, there are some of the most stunning cataracts in Indonesia lying in wait, so have the swimwear at hand and be ready for lots of detours.
Mangku Sakti Waterfall is first on the list. It’s about 50 minutes’ drive outside of Sembulan down a dusty dirt road. Once you’ve parked up at the often-deserted lot, you’ll need to hike a narrow gorge above a roaring whitewater river. That takes about 10 minutes and can be hard to pass at points. The reward is the great opening in the canyon that hosts the waterfall itself. It’s 20 meters tall and has a deep pool below. There’s also a perch behind the cataract where you clamber up to see it from behind.
If you’re still hungry for waterfalls, push on to the Sendang Gile Waterfall. This is one of the most iconic in all of Indo. It’s a hidden paradise deep in the foothills of the Rinjani reserve. Blooms of evergreen palms and ferns sprout from the side of the sheer-cut cliffs all around, while the waters mist and plume in a series of ribbon-like streams into the rocky bed below. Be sure to have the camera charged.
Later on, you’ll arrive at Tanjung. It’s the gateway to a whole region of downright gorgeous beaches, so it’s time to crank up the R&R after all that adventure travel. Medana Beach is the jewel in the crown – think white sands and stooping sea grape trees. If you can afford it, stay at the Oberoi Beach Resort there, because it’s one of the highest rated in the whole country!
Day 5 – The Gili Islands
The grand finale of our Lombok itinerary isn’t actually on Lombok at all. Instead, you’ll make the quick crossing to one of the fabled Gili islands. They’re hailed as the great paradise destinations in the Bali Sea, with more talcum-powder sands and coral reefs than you could possibly get through in a single holiday.
The boats for the Gili chain leave from the port in Bangsal. It’s a gritty place but grin and bear it for the journey, which lasts just 45 minutes in a small passenger ferry from pier to paradise.
The only choice you need to make here is which Gili you’ll go to. There are three on offer, each with their own unique vibe. Don’t worry, the whole lot have jaw-dropping shorelines and bath-warm seas. But here’s a little guide to help you out…
- Gili Trewangan – Also known as Gili T, this is the busiest of all the Gilis. It’s considered the party hub of the chain, with an eastern shoreline that’s filled with bamboo reggae bars and dive schools that double as after-dark clubs. Come here if you want to finish your Lombok trip with some hedonism.
- Gili Air – A very relaxed, very easy-going island, Gili Air is about ramshackle backpacker hotels and empty beaches. It’s also established itself as something of a yogi hub in recent years, so come here to find your inner Zen after traveling Lombok.
- Gili Meno – The honeymooner choice, Gili Meno is now home to a swathe of very upscale hotels that offer unbridled romance and sea-view villa suites. It’s the perfect place to end our Lombok itinerary 5 days if you’re traveling as a couple.