Chasin' Waterfalls in Lombok
Lombok is Bali's less crowded neighbor island with tons to offer visitors. Only a cheap flight or ferry ride away from Bali, I found Lombok to be more authentic in culture, more laid back in vibes, and full of more beautiful beaches than comparatively busy Bali. Here's everything you need to know about visiting Lombok:
How to get there: Lombok has an international airport located in the south-central part of the island. There are many daily flight services from Bali (only 25 minutes and starting around $40) and other domestic airports like Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar, and even international flights from Singapore and Malaysia several times a week. There are also numerous fast boat services connecting both Bali and the Gili island to Lombok.
Where to stay: Senggigi town, located about an hour's ride away from the airport, is the primary area where tourists stay in Lombok. It's small, but has a couple nice hotels, restaurants, and a large beach adjacent to town. Unfortunately there are no hostels here yet - I stayed at one of the cheapest hotels I could find at Lombok Senggigi Hotel for about $35 a night. There are more luxurious options available as well!
What to do: As a nature lover, the main draw to Lombok for me was the untouched beaches and a certain waterfall by the name of Tiu Kelep. Hire any of the various local tuk-tuk drivers for the day and drive up the coast to see more of this untouched paradise. There's one main road on the island, with a beach directly to one side, and a jungle on the other, scattered with tiny villages here and there.
Tiu Kelep waterfall can't be missed! It is located in a village called Senaru, a long-ish 2 hour drive from Lombok, but so worthwhile! The drive itself is enjoyable too 'cause it's basically like a tour through a jungle/beachy paradise. Ask at your hotel reception desk for a tour/ride there - one thing I love about Asia is that hotels always double as tour agencies ;).
Once you arrive, you pretty much have to hire one of the local guides waiting at the entrance to take you to the waterfalls. You could EASILY hike there yourself - it's a very straightforward path and easy as pie - but you'll make the locals very mad if you bypass their services. I paid 100,000 rupiah (roughly $8) and he showed me the way. You'll pass by a smaller but still beautiful fall called Sedang Gile, and if you keep going for a leisurely 30 minutes you will reach Tiu Kelep. This is the most beautiful waterfall I've seen in my LIFE! The power you feel at the falls is something I struggle to explain, but I had goosebumps just watching the energetic and forceful flow of water pump down on the pools below. The best part is - unlike so many waterfalls and tourist attractions in Asia - there was NO ONE THERE. I had the falls to myself for a good 20 minutes before another group arrived.
Mount Rinjani is a must-do on Lombok for adventure seekers. It's an active volcano (the second tallest in all of Indonesia) on the northern area of the island and takes about 2 days/1 night for the volcanic rim hike, and 3 days/2 nights for the summit. Don't go into this without doing your research first - it's not an easy hike by any means, and definitely involves special equipment and even cold weather gear. You should not attempt this hike without a guide. Best hiking conditions are from April-December, and the park is entirely closed in January. Unfortunately, I was there in January and therefore couldn't hike it, but mark my words, I will be back one day soon to mark it off my bucket list!
Other tips: Lombok is a Muslim-majority island. Be respectful of cultural customs, as you should in any place. There are a couple of ATM machines in Senggigi, but you won't find any once you leave town. There's some buzz about issues with crime and safety on Lombok, but I had no troubles when exercising normal caution like I do anywhere. Don't flash your valuables and use general, common-sense street smarts. Going solo to Lombok? It wasn't the easiest place to meet other travelers since there were no hostels, so I spent most of my time alone while on Lombok. I still had an amazing experience and recommend it to travelers ranging from families to solo.
Hope this helped for any of you planning a trip to this untouched paradise!