Tiu Kelep Waterfall, Lombok

Lombok road trip itinerary

A little while ago, I went on a short road trip around Lombok with my Dad. When I was trying to plan the journey, I couldn’t really find anything online, so I thought I’d write a little something in case anyone else was thinking of doing a similar trip.

Lombok is an island in Indonesia, just east of Bali. Unlike Bali, it is still largely untouched by the infestation of tourists, and in some places you can go for quite a while without seeing another Bule (foreigner). Its landscape is beautiful and varied, ranging from rainforests and mountains in the north, to pristine white sand beaches in the south. The well-known Gili Islands, which are a part of Lombok, lie off the west coast, and are generally much more touristy than the island of Lombok itself. The roads in Lombok are surprisingly good – new, wide, mostly empty – far better than in Bali, which makes road tripping all the better! Bear in mind that while Bali is majority Hindu, Lombok and the Gilis are Muslim, meaning you will hear the mosque’s call to prayer quite often and should wear respectable clothing.

This itinerary is flexible. Instead of breaking it down into days, I’ve broken them into stops, so you can decide how long you want to spend in each place.

Stop 1: The Gilis

Get the boat from Padang Bai in Bali to the Gilis (I recommend Eka Jaya for ~ 500k IDR [€30] one way). The Gilis are pretty unique in that there are no motorised vehicles allowed on them, only push bikes and horse and carts! That means there’s no noise from cars or motorbikes, woo! Take your pick of Gili Trawangan (Gili T), Gili Air, or Gili Meno, or go to all three! Gili T is generally known as the party island, but there are some spaces of calm and relaxation there too. Gili Air is smaller, quieter, and more laid-back. And Gili Meno is smaller still, and many say it’s the perfect spot for couples. Spend a few days exploring the islands, snorkelling, diving, cycling around, or partying.

When you’ve had your fill of the Gilis, hop on the public boat to Bangsal, in Lombok. The boat should only cost about ~20k IDR [€1.50] one way. When you arrive in Bangsal, rent a car or a motorbike. Dad and I rented a car, which we had booked online with Car Rental Lombok beforehand. Be aware: most of the rental companies will say they have all these different models of cars, but in reality they only have about 4 cars of the same brand (usually Daihatsu). 

Stop 2: Senaru

Now you’re on Lombok, the road trip begins! Drive from Bangsal to Senaru, which should take about 1.5 hours. Senaru is a village in the mountains, near Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia. Climbing Rinjani is no easy feat, and would take you about 3 days with a guide. Senaru is one of the starting points for ascending Rinjani, so there are a few accommodation options.

We stayed in Pondok Guru Bakti Cottage for about 250k IDR [€15] a night. The rooms are simple, but clean. It’s located right at the top of a valley, so when you’re in the newly built swimming pool, the rainforest opens up before you.  

Just a short walk from Pondok Guru Bakti, lies the trailhead for Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls. The walk to the waterfalls is flat for the most part, bringing you through jungle and along a man-made waterway where the locals get their water from. We saw some boys using the pipe as a water slide, and so we gave it a go too! Put some flip-flops under your bum to use as a sled as the concrete might hurt.

If you’re interested in the culture of the Sassak people (Lombok people), visit Senaru Traditional Village with a guide. You can see the traditional homes, made of bamboo and straw, meet some of the people who still live in the village, and maybe try some of the local rice wine – brem.

Stop 3: Sembalun

About an hour’s drive from Senaru, is another mountain town, Sembalun. Sembalun is also a starting point for climbing Rinjani, so there are a number of accommodation and food options. I didn’t actually stay here, but have stopped a few times. The temperature is noticeably cooler in Sembalun, which gives way to different types of farming: you’ll see many people selling carrots, onions, and strawberries along the side of the road, which feels somewhat European. Many of the strawberry farms let you pick your own strawberries, a kilo for about 100k IDR (~ €7), which makes you feel very wholesome. Kedai Sawah Sembalun offers this, and also has a quaint restaurant in the midst of a flower farm. Strawberries picked for the road, start winding your way up to the viewpoint, Wisata Pusuk Sembalun, where you can look out over the valley, surrounded by monkeys eyeing up your food.

Stop 4: Pink Beach

Moving away from the mountains, make your way down the coast all the way to a little peninsula where you’ll find the Pink Beach. The pink sand is broken down red coral, and is maybe not as pink as it looks in (highly edited) photos. But it’s still a serene place to go and stretch your legs after the long car journey. The water is clear and great for snorkelling. We met some guys there who were spearfishing, barbecuing up the fish and then camping overnight. I think camping there would be wonderful, even just in your car!

Stop 5: Kuta

Kuta (not to be confused with Kuta in Bali) is probably the most “Westernised” of all the places in Lombok. Many digital nomads, seeking a more tranquil life away from the crowds in Bali, have set up their lives in Kuta. You can see this reflected in the type of restaurants and services available there, as well as, as my (white) dad put it: “There’s so many white people here!” Indeed, it was the first time we had seen this many white people in our whole time in Lombok. 

Kuta has numerous stunning beaches, and has become known as a surfing hotspot. I can’t really speak on it as I know f-all about surfing, but it does seem pretty swell (ha). Tanjung Aan and Selong Belanak beaches are be-a-utiful.

We stayed in Cewin’s Homestay which was cheap and cheerful, but as it’s a bit of a tourist / nomad destination, there’s loads of accommodation options to choose from. 

Stop 6: Tetebatu

If you fancy more mountain and jungle time, I’d suggest heading up to Tetebatu. A small village on the south side of Rinjani, it is another starting point to go up the mountain. Surrounded by rice fields, dense forest, and waterfalls, it is definitely worth the inland trip. We stayed in Tetebatu Indah Homestay and our host was so friendly and helpful. His friend, Ros, brought us up through fields, over rivers (watch out for leeches), and through jungle, with Rinjani always looking over us. Ros told us about his life in Tetebatu and taught us about the plants we encountered on our journey. In the forest, you can find black monkeys high up in the trees, some of them with little orange babies. Just outside the monkey forest is a serene space called Black Monkey Go Green, with massive dream catchers hung all over the property. On Sundays, they run free yoga classes! 

Near the village of Tetebatu, there is Tetebatu waterfall, somewhat hard to find (we took a guide), but worth it when you do get to it. Tucked away amongst the rocks, it feels like a little slice of paradise. The water is refreshingly cool, and the pool is big enough to plunge in.

Stop 7: Senggigi

Further up the coast is the resort area of Senggigi. This area used to be more popular until they moved the airport closer to Kuta, and then Kuta took off as the tourist spot. Senggigi’s coastline is breathtaking, with white sand beaches stretching up and down the coast. Restaurants and bars litter the coastline, with some huge resorts looming over the cliffs. We stopped off in an unfinished cliff-top villa, Villa Hantu Senggigi, that has for some reason become a stop along the tourist route. Its abandoned nature makes it feel slightly eerie, but the unfinished windows look out over the land and sea, and make for some good photos! 

Leaving Lombok

From Senggigi, Bangsal is only a short drive away, so you can catch the boat back to Bali, which should take about 3 hours. Or if you’re in your own car or on your own bike, you can take the ferry from Lembar (~5 hours). Flying is obviously the quickest way to get to and from Lombok, with Praya airport being relatively close to Kuta and to Tetebatu, so you could change your route and itinerary accordingly. You can also go straight from Bangsal to Nusa Penida or Lembongan, find out how here. And once you’re in Penida, why not take a look at my guide to help you decide what to do?

Lombok is a gorgeous island: The people are welcoming, the Indonesian food is excellent, and the landscapes are beyond beautiful. If you want a more “authentic” Indonesian experience, definitely put Lombok on your bucketlist.

Let me know if you have any questions!


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