The Nomad’s Guide to Lombok, Indonesia

Wave goodbye to the colorful offerings, scent of incense and guys named Wayan (a name given to all first-born, Balinese children) as you board a plane and fly over the Lombok Strait.

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Photo © Audrey Hills

As you drive away from Praya International Airport, adjust your expectations: while Bali’s dominant religion is Hindu, Lombok is almost entirely Muslim. It’s time to let the magic of travel alter your perspective of Indonesia. 

The New Wave of Lombok Locals

For the most part, Lombok Muslims are moderately shy to newcomers, but as the flights to Lombok become increasingly full, a new generation are changing the reputation of the island and their relationships with travelers. A local surf guide summed this trend up with eloquence: "I am Muslim. But I am a rock 'n' roll Muslim." 

Local Love

Make sure you take the time to get to know the locals, who are very proud of all things Sasak (the indigenous tribe that accounts for 85% of Lombok’s residents). You will constantly hear them praise the local food, waves, people and textiles. 

Try what they offer you, be it rice, satay, or whole fish served on the ground. Go to a Sasak stick fight to experience an iconic tribe tradition; forging a connection to the people of Lombok will radically alter your experience of the island and your general perception of Muslim culture.

A “rock 'n' roll Lombok Muslim” Photo Credit: Audrey Hills

How to be a Responsible Traveler in Lombok

Be observant of the people around you and act accordingly, taking notice of local customs. In major tourist areas, locals are more accustomed to Westerners, but that doesn’t give you the go ahead to wear your bikini on the street.

Things to avoid include: eating or greeting people with your left hand, drinking or eating in public during Ramadan (from mid-May to mid-June in 2018) and, just like in Bali, drinking the local liquor called arak

Outside of Kuta, Senggigi and the Gilis, people are more traditional. Be particularly modest in rural areas by covering your knees and shoulders. You should also avoid traveling alone or at night in remote areas.

If you exercise common sense and use your smile, you may make your own Lombok family or attend a Sasak Nyongkolan (a wild in-street block party to celebrate a marriage).

Oh and one last thing: bring ear plugs if you don't want to be woken by the 4:30am call to prayer.

Adventure Hotspots

Go Surfing

As a surfing destination, Lombok is a great alternative to Bali. Lombok offers waves for every skill level, from sheltered bays with gentle peelers to the world-famous shallow barrel, Desert Point. The area surrounding Kuta abounds with options that handle every wind and swell.

Be sure to surf: Mawi, Ekas, Are Guling, Gerupuk and Tanjung Aan – where you're bound to find the perfect wave. 

A local surfing in Lombok. Photo Credit: Rhys Ireland

Watch a Sunset

Ask a local to point you towards Seger Beach. Just 10 minutes from downtown Kuta, it's insanely beautiful beach below a small hill.  Climb to the top and watch the sunset over Kuta with a cold Bintang in hand. 

Beach Hop

One of the biggest attractions in Lombok are the beaches. You can pick a different beach for each day and spend it surfing, swimming, drinking coconuts and eating inexpensive mie goreng under the thatched roof of a warung (a small restaurant or café). 

Check out Tanjung Aan and Mawi. While at Mawi, take a closer look at the sand, it looks like millions of balls of Dippin’ Dots ice cream.

Tanjung Aan Beach, Lombok. Photo Credit: iStock.com/master2

Day Trip to Waterfalls

You haven’t seen Lombok until you’ve ventured into the island’s interior. Hire private transport to Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls. The parched landscape of the coast is a distant memory as you wind your way through lush valleys and rice fields in the countryside.

Hire a guide to take you to three waterfalls and to see countless monkeys. Take a dip in Benang Kelambu, where the icy water flows direct from Mount Rinjani and is a welcome cool-down after a steamy hike.

Want to know more about Indonesia? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. With around 17,000 islands to choose from, where are the must visits, and if you have your surfboard, best surf breaks? Hear the tale of a man chased by headhunters, and tips for traveling the world solo.

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