Located to the east of Bali, the Lombok island has beautiful sandy beaches that remain underdeveloped when compared with Bali. The centre of the island is dominated by Mount Rinjani, an active volcano that is a fabulous spot to photograph the sunrise or sunset.
Life on Lombok is more restrained and modest compared with the generally more open and vibrant Bali. However, gay travellers can expect to be welcomed in the same way as straight tourists.
Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. These very small, beautiful tropical islands are located just off the west coast of Lombok and about 20 miles from the eastern tip of Bali.
The islands have beautiful white sandy beaches and surrounded by crystal clear water. The sea is teaming with marine life and makes Gili Islands a top destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.
Gili Islands remain largely undiscovered by mass tourism. Walk, ride a horse, pedal a bike or swim everywhere as there are no buses, cars or motorbikes.
A number of international airlines operate direct flights to Lombok. In addition, there are daily flights from Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Indonesia operates a ‘visa on arrival ‘scheme for nationals of most non-Asian countries (cost $25US as at March 2012).
Nationals of Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam do not require a visa.
By public ferry – operates every two hours, 24 hours a day from Padang Bai (East Bali) to Lembar (West Lombok). Although cheap, the crossing time can be between 4-5 hours. The port is about 1 hour by car from the main tourist area of Senggigi.
By fast boat – A number of fast boat services operate from Bali to the east coast of Lombok and Gili islands, including the Blue Water Express and Gili Getaway. Crossing times are between 1½-2 hours depending on destination. Advance booking essential during peak periods.
By air – A number of airlines offer daily flights between Bali and Lombok.
There is a good choice of boutique hotels on the west coast with a cluster around Senggigi, the most tourist-orientated town on Lombok.
For hotel recommendations, visit our Lombok Hotels page.
Lombok and the Gili Islands enjoy a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons, dry (May to September) and wet (October to March). The wet season is characterised by brief afternoon rain showers. Daytime temperatures average 27˚C to 32˚C along the west coast.