What is Lombok
Lombok is an island West of Bali. It is known for beaches and surfing spots, particularly at Kuta and Banko Banko (in the south of the island). The island has been recently been hit by a multitude of earthquakes that devastated the north of the island. If you wish to help the inhabitants, please visit the island and help the tourism. There are 3 ways to access Lombok island:
- by plane: there is an international airport and flights from/to Bali are relatively cheap
- by ferry boat from Bali or Gili Islands in about 5 hours
- by fast boat from Bali or Gili Islands in about 2 hours (read our opinion on it in this article!)
Lombok is also the departure spot for cruises towards Sumbawa, Komodo and Flores islands. If you are in Bali, you should not miss Lombok island. Some people call it ‘the new Bali’.
What is there to see?
The touristic Lombok mainly consists of 3 areas:
- The Gili Islands – where we came from (read our article about the Gili Islands!)
- The Mount Rinjani, a volcano situated at 3726m altitude, known for the beautiful views it offers. You can hike it within 2 to 4 days depending on your personal fitness as it is quite challenging. Expect a lot of other tourists on the track, including all the trash/garbage that is disposed on the side. This was the reason why we decided not to climb it.
- South Lombok and the Kuta region for its beautiful beaches – this is where we went and we highly recommend it.
Of course there is more to explore but expect to pay for it: there is lack of public transportation so you will need your own driver or to rent your own vehicle if you dare to; like in Bali entrance fees are requested almost anywhere and are quite expensive (some fellow tourists told us there were asked to pay a 15 USD fee per person to access some nice but not amazing waterfalls: Air Terjun Jeruk). On the positive side, the island is developing, and even with the recent earthquakes the inflow of tourists helps boost the economy and the reconstruction.
Kuta and the beaches around
The small city of Kuta
Kuta itself is a weird place… but let me tell you more about it. You will find many nice guesthouses, bars and restaurants located across two main streets. The “hipsterization” of Bali travelled also to Lombok but in a smaller version. We still enjoyed our smoothie bowls and banana blended coffee very much! We even got to eat some very good french-style crepes! One in a Breton restaurant (!) and one in a small stall down the road at the intersection.
From this neighborhood down to the beach you will pass by what seems to be an abandoned harbor, with a broken pier, very old and rusty boats as well as fishermen boats. Not a lot of people around apart from many stray dogs. Going East from there you will get to the actual Kuta beach, nice but definitely not the nicest of the area!
By the seaside everything has been recently re-built: beside the new asphalt road, you can find a concrete walkway and a huge concrete building, which usage we could not figure out (and still up to today we have no clue what it is!). Note that it has nice toilets on the ground floor! 🙂
The best way to explore this region is to rent a scooter and go Eastwards from Kuta, stopping at the deserted and the touristic beaches on the way! If you are into surfing there are also a few recommended spots around but this time we just decided to take it easy on the beach!
Our favorite place for the day was the beach Pantai Tanjung Aan where we stayed almost a full day at one of the local Warung (small family owned business). If you eat there they have free umbrella and sun beds so just pick up a place you like and enjoy; we had a nice lunch there so we were happy! The fish is fresh since it just picked up from the sea, therefore we couldn’t go wrong with their daily recommendation. The beach is pleasant to swim, snorkeling has no interest here though, but it is still a little paradise.
We got to see the birth of baby turtles running towards the sea! Unfortunately not all of them made it… but it was still a magic moment!
The great part with the beach is that is near some hills. It is recommended to for a hike on the western hills for sunset. Most of the people stay at the beginning of the hills despite it being a very easy hike. We managed to walk a bit more from a hill to another until we arrived at the edge of the sea, it was definitely worth it. The landscape and the view are beautiful!
What did we think about the island?
Similar to our trip to Bali, we had mixed feelings about the island. Lombok has some amazing landscapes to offer, we met some really nice people and it is still mostly preserved as tourism remains relatively low. Honestly speaking, Lombok is very beautiful.
But, because there is a but, many things need to change for Lombok to be qualified as a “paradisiac island”. Below you can find our personal impression on what we did not appreciate about Lombok island:
Garbage and littering is very present; we found some nice initiatives on some touristic beaches to clean up the beach but as soon as you get away you will find piles of garbage everywhere. I understand that the ocean is bringing a lot of garbage from elsewhere but the local habits and lack of political interest are also to be blamed as you will also see garbage inland, including on the Mount Rinjani and the waterfalls as we were told many times…
Many many many (too many) hawkers everywhere, including lots of children. As a tourist you cannot lie on the beach, eat at a restaurant or go for a walk without having somebody coming to sell you a T-shirt, a sarong or a bracelet. This is of course linked to the poverty of the place but it is also quite a complicated human situation: you cannot buy to everyone and if you do start buying you will soon get surrounded. Some of those hawkers were very nice and friendly, sometimes even happy to exchange a few words in English without being too pushy on buying; others would become quite aggressive and very pushy, staying 10 minutes next to you or even sitting at your table, without even talking or anything, just staying there… There is no easy way out: you will guilty or annoyed and unable to enjoy the moment.
Insecurity seems to be a problem: we had many people sharing bad experience of mugging, sometimes even with physical agression. When I was there a few years ago with my friend we witnessed a tentative of bag-snatching that ending up in a scooter accident for the poor targeted girl…
We personally (luckily!) did not experience anything similar but because we were quite aware we tried to stay away. We noticed at one point, while we were driving towards a remote beach, that one guy stopped to phone after seeing us passing. Another guy did a u-turn to follow us, after we passed. We might have been paranoiac but decided to not make a stop and continue our way to the next beach.
So just be careful, if you feel unsafe go somewhere else, don’t carry anything easy to steal and don’t stay alone if you can.