Bali and Lombok, who doesn’t dream about traveling to these places? Both Indonesian bounty islands with a lot in common, although they also show some differences that might be relevant when choosing your holiday destination.
The more touristy Island of Gods – as Bali is also named – is known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, pristine beaches, coral reefs and has a rich and diverse culture.
Almost as big as Bali, Lombok is more like the undiscovered island next door, mostly suited for adventurous travelers. Its volcanic center offers rewarding trekker experiences while the untrodden idyllic beaches make for the perfect setting for some jealous-making photos to send home.
Are you not in the position to travel to both islands? We will mention some differences to help you make a choice between those two paradises.
Island hopping: Bali ☺☺☺ – Lombok ☺☺☺
From Bali you can hop to the islands of Nusa Lembongan, with the reputation of being a slower version than Bali, or the almost forgotten island of Nusa Ceningan or the isolated island of Nusa Penida (where you can now camp by the beach!). These islands are a great getaway from the busy South Bali, and also offers a great deal of local experiences such as cruising on a local boat and snorkel, cycling in the villages, and visit a few temples.
Lombok is the gateway to the popular motor vehicle free Gili Islands with its picturesque beaches and incredible snorkel and scuba diving options. In this beautiful paradise you can keep yourself busy for days with various activities, or just lay on the beach soaking up the bounty feeling.
Diving & Snorkelling:
Bali ☺☺☺ – Lombok ☺☺
Bali offers an endless list of scuba diving possibilities. From the discovery of underwater gardens in Amed to advanced diving day trip to Nusa Penida where you can see the incredibly weird and wonderful Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) and Manta Ray amidst all sorts of other marine life like tuna and tiger mackerel. Other divers’ favorite include Pemuteran (North of Bali) and Menjangan island with its underwater temples. Or Tulamben in the East of Bali, that boasts one of the richest marine life on the island.
In Lombok similar diving options are offered at the more remote and quieter places around the Gili Islands and Sekotong. Also here you can experience your first scuba dive or even take a 3 days diving course to get your certification in one of the most welcoming diving spot in the world : the Gili islands.
If you like more tips on doing a beginner diving course in Indonesia, you can read this article.
Trekking: Bali ☺☺☺ – Lombok ☺☺☺
There are many trekking opportunities to choose from in Bali. Hiking the active volcano of Mt. Batur is a great adventure, especially when starting early morning to witness the beautiful sunrise on the summit of 1,717 meters. Other challenging and equally beautiful volcano trek are Mt. Agung and Mt. Abang. Otherwise, you can stil enjoy the slightly cooler climate of Munduk offering great hiking in mesmerising nature.
Lombok is home to Indonesia’s second-highest volcano: Mt. Rinjani (3,726 meters). This most impressive mountain with incredible views offers great hiking options for multiple days. Hiking here is more adventurous than in Bali, with rivers and waterfalls gushing down while the summit brings the ultimate trekker’s prize: a dazzling crater lake complete with hot springs!
Romance: Bali ☺☺☺ – Lombok ☺☺
Bali and its pristine beaches, breathtaking cliff edge views, sensual sunsets is a honeymooner paradise. An endless list of romantic activities awaits you and will inspire for a wedding proposal, pre-wedding photo-shoot or a romantic dinner spot.How about an irresistibly intimate dinner with the view of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean, while being surrounded by the majestic Tanah Lot temple?
Also, we recommend you having a look at : “Best things to do and places to stay for honeymoon in Bali”, to get more inspiration on romantic ideas in Bali.
Do not underestimate Lombok that certainly has its charm too and with more remote and adventurous activities it might be more suited for couples that look for deserted beaches and exploration. You can also choose one of the many multiple day cruise and boat tours or a stay at a luxury resort like Oberoi or Tugu to just enjoy the presence of your loved one in this tropical paradise.
Nightlife: Bali☺☺☺– Lombok ☺
Bali has an active nightlife scene with most clubs and bars in Seminyak. Potato Head, Ku De Ta, La Favela, Mirror and Jenja are just a few examples of the many places to party when in the mood for a drink and dance move. If you are traveling as a family or if you are more interested in a cultural show, then try the Devdan show with contemporary acrobatic dance.
Nightlife on the Muslim island of Lombok is less active, although in some tourist spots like Senggigi you can definitely linger over a cocktail in a trendy lounge, pub-crawl along the beachfront or take in the vibrant live music scene.
Quietness: Bali ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺ ☺ ☺
Bali is well known for yoga and meditation to bring you back to your own relaxed self. Choose between a full day yoga & wellness experience in Canggu, a private meditation class at your Villa, or a sea minerals detox treatment in Sanur or maybe even all of those for ultimate relaxation! If you are looking for quiet places on Bali, discover the remote hillside town of Munduk and the real beach getaway of Pemuteran. But don’t tell too many people about these places, otherwise the quietness might soon disappear…
However, you must know that Bali attracts many tourists all year long and quieter spots are more rare to find.
On the other side, Lombok will be quiet most of the time, it starts with empty roads and no traffic, accompanied by a stunning view over the Mt Rinjani. You will be surprised by the serenity you can find in Lombok and amazed at finding those splendid virgin beaches all over the island. For those in search of an authentic local experience filled of nature, we would recommend you a day trip to hidden waterfalls.
Nature: Bali ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺ ☺ ☺
Bali is greener in the north with great opportunities to explore the surroundings while the South is now populated by resorts and hotels with less nature remaining. Examples of Bali’s beautiful nature are the stunning Jatiluwatih or Tabanan rice fields, Lake Batur on the equally named Mt. Batur and the beautiful surroundings of Munduk. Bali has a drier climate in the south, mostly on the Bukit Peninsula where you will find high cliffs and spectacular views.
While the tropical island of Lombok could be divided into distinct landscapes with lush green jungles, waterfall and rivers in the north, while we can observe drier conditions on the south and east coast. Where ever you are on the island you might be able to observe from far the peak of the majestic Rinjani Mountain and its crater lake.
We advise nature lover to explore the north of Bali and its secret waterfall through this “North Bali Appreciation Day Trip” featuring the still secret Sekumpul waterfall.
Beaches: Bali ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺ ☺ ☺
Ask anyone to mention one characteristic of Indonesia and he or she will most certainly come up with perfectly white sand beaches. This is Indonesia’s trademark, and that is not based on a fairytale.
Beaches in Bali are found all around the island. They are a mix of black and white sand beaches with the most virgin and secluded ones around Candidasa area in East Bali, while the Bukit (South Peninsula of Bali) is filled of amazing beaches, mostly frequented by reef break surfers. Recommended beaches to have a bath or just chill are Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua, and beaches of the Bukit.
On the island of Lombok you will find more virgin beaches with white sand and less tourists, like our favorite Ekas beach with perfect surfing spots. Mawun, Mawi and Selong Belanak are some of the beaches you must visit in Lombok for a splendid quality time.
Culinary experiences :
Bali ☺ ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺☺
Watering mouths and grumbling tummies at the thought of Indonesian food, this already is an experience on its own! From satay and beef rendang to the typical betutu (steamed or roasted chicken or duck), Indonesia has a great cuisine to all tastes.
Bali’s typical dish is Babi Guling; roasted suckling pig. This dish is hardly found in Muslim areas, but popular amongst Balinese Hindus. If you like to learn Indonesian cooking yourself, try an authentic cooking class in a traditional village around Ubud or go for a more gastronomic cooking class in Canggu. If you feel lazy and just like to activate your taste buts in one of the famous restaurants on the island, try Swept Away at the Samaya in Ubud, Secret Garden Restaurant at Lovina Beach or Warung Sanur Segar in Sanur.
Lombok’s typical dish is Ayam Taliwang; a mostly spicy grilled chicken dish. As Lombok is a Muslim island, pork can hardly be found here. Try an Indonesian cooking class at home in Senggigi to be able to cook Indonesian food for your friends back home, they will surely appreciate it! And enjoy the real deal at one of Lombok’s famous restaurants like Ocean Breeze Gourmet Foods in Kuta, Ruby’s Café in Gili Air or Danima Restaurant in Gili Trawangan.
Family holiday: Bali ☺ ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺
Bali is a probably one of the best place in Asia to travel with children. From amusement parks, Zoo, water parks to animal encounters, your kids will never get bored! Sanur, Nusa Dua and Seminyak are great places to stay with your children with plenty of family-friendly resorts. You should not miss an Elephant trekking or Dolphin Lovina Tour, Waterbom park is also a lot of fun for both adults and children!
Lombok is an island more attracted to adventurers and backpackers, although Senggigi is a great family place that offers kids facilities and family resorts like the Qunci Villas Hotel.
Budget: Bali ☺ – Lombok ☺ ☺ ☺
In comparison with other popular tourist destinations in the world, Indonesia is a relatively cheap place to travel to. Overall you will get great value for money and there are plenty of ways to travel on a budget on both islands.
Bali is an island well developed for tourists, which automatically drives up the prices. Still very reasonable, you will be able to get a basic, clean room here for $25. There is still plenty of activities to do on a budget, read the article “20 amazing things to do in Bali under $35” for some great inspiration.
Lombok is a less touristy island and therefore cheaper. Get a nice budget $9 hostel room in Gili Air Hostel or check out the more luxurious budget-options for around $30.
Surf: Bali ☺ ☺ ☺ – Lombok ☺ ☺
Indonesia is surrounded by multiple long coastlines, home to some of the best surf spots in the world.
Bali hosts several international surf competitions, like the ones at Uluwatu, Kuta Beach and Keramas. There are also several good beginner spots like Legian Beach and Kuta Beach, where you can learn to surf with the ambition to one day surf inside the “barrels” of Uluwatu.
It probably wouldn’t surprise you if we tell you that Lombok offers the more remote surf spots, with The Desert Point at Gerupuk the most legendary. A beginner surfing class is offered in Kuta.
Visit Bali? Lombok? Or visit both?
It all depends of you. Adventurers and nature lovers might go for a combination of North Bali and Lombok, beach goers will fall in love with both destinations, while families will find the trip more comfortable in Bali.
It is also very interesting to visit both islands and observe cultural differences : In Bali 90% of the people are Hindu while 5% are Muslim. On the other hand, Lombok is the opposite. Balinese landscape are filled with temples while Lombok scenery is pictured by mosques. And if you go further East, you will find the Christian island of Flores and its churches.
All these contrasts are what makes Indonesia so beautiful. And we guarantee you that you will feel warmly welcomed by the locals in any of these two islands.
We hope that this article might have helped you choosing your holiday destination. We are curious to hear about your opinion, have you been to one of these islands, which one did you prefer, Bali or Lombok?
Any tips needed ? Ask us 🙂