Lombok is known for surf spots, stunning beaches, Mount Rinjani, beautiful waterfalls, and some of the best snorkelling in the world around the Gili islands and secret Gili islands!
If you’re looking for a family holiday where the snorkelling is incredible, where there’s a chance of discovering the secret Gili islands, where the kids can play on calm beaches or try out surfing without the usual holiday crowds, then a trip to Lombok, Indonesia could be what you’re after.
Things to know before visiting Lombok
Low key Lombok, often referred to as ‘Bali before the tourists’, is a lesser-known neighbouring island to the east of Bali. Where Bali is buzzing with beach clubs and Aussie-style cafes in Canggu, restaurants and shopping in Seminyak, and yoga retreats amongst terraced rice fields in Ubud, quieter Lombok is much less developed yet has so much to offer. From hikes up Indonesia’s second-highest volcano named Gunung Rinjani, to exploring hot springs, waterfalls, a crater lake, snorkelling, surfing and relaxing on unspoilt beaches. Lombok island takes some time to drive from point to point (with lots of twists and turns in the roads, so beware those who get car sick) which is one of the reasons that you’ll need to choose your accommodation and location wisely. So how do you choose where to stay on Lombok island and what to do with kiddos?
We love a good adventure so we wanted to check out a few different areas of Lombok and explore the island. Here is our tried and tested Lombok travel guide so you can get booking that adventure holiday with the kids!
–Best hotels for kids in North Lombok
–Best hotels for kids in South Lombok
–Best hotels for kids in the ‘secret Gilis’
–Top things to do in Lombok
– Getting to Lombok from Singapore
– Private Drivers in Lombok
– When is the best time to travel to Lombok?
Where to stay in Lombok with kids
If you are travelling to Lombok for a week or more we reckon it is worth exploring a few different areas of Lombok island.
Best hotels for kids in North Lombok: near the Gili Islands
To the north of Lombok lies the impressive Mount Rinjani with its crater lake and breathtaking views. However, if your main interest is snorkelling in pristine waters, admiring stunning coral and fish and exploring the famous three Gili islands then you can either stay on any of the three Gili islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Air or Gili Meno or you can stay on the mainland on Lombok and choose a hotel in the north-west where you have super easy access (within a 15-minute boat trip) to the Gili Islands for a day trip.
A highlight of our trip was our stay at the Oberoi Hotel. This is one of the most luxurious hotels in Lombok and the service is out of this world. The beachfront property is beautiful with vast green grounds and a lovely infinity pool (that’s heated in the cooler weather – such a delight swimming in warm water when it’s raining or if you travel in the off-peak season). The rooms are set back from the sea but are beautiful with wooden interiors, an outdoor balcony and the sunken bathtub in the bathroom is a delight! There’s no traditional kids club here, instead something better is on offer for families – activities are available at every turn (most free but some at a small extra charge) – an artisan awaits with wood carving for kids to try out, there’s a mixology experience for kiddos (alcohol-free of course), there’s a bubble maker trial for kids to experience scuba diving (done in the pool), kids can do a baking class with the Chef (our kids made the most delicious cupcakes) – and all of these activities mean that mama and dad can enjoy the spa or lounge beside the pool and really relax!
The Oberoi can arrange boat trips to snorkel around the Gili islands and this is a must-do activity! Our guide was also the dive instructor so he really knew his stuff, scouting out the best sites for live colourful coral in blues, purples, greens and oranges as well as lots of beautiful fish. As an avid Advanced diver, I was so encouraged by how the corals were alive and well in this part of Indonesia. Highly recommended!
Hotel Tugu Lombok
This is a truly unique hotel located on the northern shores of Lombok with a long private beach, set amongst tropical gardens, and lotus ponds. Featuring the most glorious architecture and décor comprising ancient temples gate relics, Indonesian antiques, sculptures of Hindu deities and artworks that showcase the beauty of Indonesia’s culture and history.
Each suite at Hotel Tugu Lombok offers a different look – each one majestic and jaw-droppingly beautiful with such attention to detail. Even if you choose to stay at The Oberoi or another hotel nearby, I’d recommend having a meal at Hotel Tugu Lombok to experience this magical setting. Organise a dragonboat to pick you up from your hotel or drive over for cocktails and dinner at the Kokok Pletok restaurant.
West Lombok: Senggigi
We didn’t venture to Senggigi in West Lombok but we hear it is the most developed tourist area in Lombok and so has lots of accommodation option to suit all budgets.
Best hotels for kids in South Lombok: surfing and beaches
Located on Lombok’s southern coast, Kuta (not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta) is another more developed part of Lombok and is where you’ll find shopping, cafes, pretty beaches and surf breaks. We recommend Selong Belanak beach for families – a huge expanse of white beach with a few beachfront restaurants, massage spots, sun beds for rent and a fab surf school called MUL surf school where kids can learn to surf.
Selong Selo Resort & Residences
Perched on a high hill with sweeping panoramic views of Selong Belanak beach is where you’ll find Selong Solo – a collection of 30 properties each with an exhilarating view, a lounge, flat screen TV, smart kitchen and outdoor area with a small pool and some even a BBQ – ranging from one bed to seven beds, some with bunk beds to delight the kiddos! We stayed one night at Selong Solo (and wished we could have stayed longer) to close our trip – the property is a short 30-minute drive to the airport so it’s perfectly located to top and tail your trip to Lombok.
There’s also a communal pool, gym, spa (opening soon) and a restaurant and bar. Breakfast (included in the rate) at Aura Lounge is delicious (choose fluffy pancakes or a full English breakfast served in a skillet amongst other dishes). Sipping a cappuccino and admiring those views is really an experience that can’t be beat! A daily shuttle is provided to and from the main beach about 15 minutes away (though you may want to hire your own car to have freedom to come and go as you please). Book kids into a surf lesson at MUL, have lunch at the main beach restaurant, rent a sunbed, have a massage – it’s easy to see how you could make South Lombok the focus of your trip!
Best hotels in Lombok for kids: ‘secret Gilis’ Gili Asahan
Looking for that Robinson Crusoe vibe? Then stay at this secret Gili island Gili Asahan! Accessible by longtail boat from the Pantai Kores pier on Lombok Island, you’ll really feel like you’ve gone off the radar. While we loved exploring somewhere less discovered, sadly we saw a lot more plastic in the ocean and litter on the beach on Gili Asahan. Both featured accommodations in our Lombok travel guide for Gili Asahan have free snorkel equipment (adults) as well as complimentary kayaks. The best snorkelling is a short walk across a coral-strewn beach (bring sea shoes to keep feet safe) – outside Pearl Beach Resort.
Amahelia Gili Asahan
Amahelia Gili Asahan is the only hotel on this tiny secret Gili Island that has a pool! This boutique accommodation has 8 standalone air-con huts set back behind the pool (and closer to the cockerels and village – so beware light sleepers – you may be woken in the early hours). Simply yet stylishly built with natural local materials and furnished with a mix of Asian and colonial styles. decorated with a sofa (which could be used as a child’s bed) and a double bed fitted with a mosquito net plus an ensuite bathroom.
The breakfasts at Amahelia Luxury Hotel are worth a special mention – truly excellent featuring great coffee, fresh juices, healthy dragonfruit bowls, amazing Eggs Ben and other dishes. A little understaffed so expect to wait when it gets busy at meal times and when checking out. As a family of four we got two huts but you could potentially squeeze into one hut if you have smaller kids (you may need to bring your own cot).
Gili Asahan Eco Lodge
Gili Asahan Eco Lodge consists of a range of huts and bales some facing the beach others set back in the garden. There’s a very good Italian restaurant for delicious pizzas and pasta plus yoga, massage and activities like kayaking and diving excursions.
Lombok Travel Guide: top things to do in Lombok
1. Go island hopping & snorkelling around the Gili Islands
One of the main reasons people head to Lombok is for the access to ‘the Gili Islands’. Three smalls islands situated off the northern point of Lombok are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – you can stay at these islands if you wish – they used to be extremely popular pre Covid – some are back on their feet while some parts of the Gili islands had an abandoned feel to them. Trawangan has always been known as the party island while Meno and Air are quieter – all have reputations as having some of the best diving and snorkelling in Indonesia. It is possible to hire a driver for the day and drive to the access point for any of the Gili islands, then hire a boat with snorkelling gear, have lunch on the boat and drive back to your accommodation though if you have smaller kids you may want to choose accommodation nearest to the boat trip starting point which is why we choose to start our trip in the north of Lombok.
2. Explore the secret Gili islands
There are more Gilis (which basically means island in Indonesian) than the most famous three Gili Islands mentioned above – there are around 26 different Gili around Lombok! Often called the “Secret Gili” these refer to the islands on Lombok’s South-west coast: Gili Asahan, Gili Layer, Gili Gili Gede, Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and Gili Kedis.
3. Surf or learn to surf
There are so many good surf spots in Lombok that are suitable for beginner and intermediate surfers. Some of the famous ones are Kuta Lombok Beach, Gerupuk and Selong Belanak beach.
4. Hike Mount Rinjani
Mount Rinjani is a 3,726m active volcano. You can hike the trails here (it takes around 5-6 hours to hike to the top to see the crater lake) and you can even camp on the volcano.
5. Check out the amazing beaches on Lombok island
Pink Beach: yes, we hear the sand at this beach is actually pink. You can also take a short boat ride to snorkel around Gili Petelu.
Tanjung Aan Beach: stunning white sand beach with turquoise-coloured water.
6. Explore Lombok’s waterfalls
There are lots of pretty waterfalls on Lombok Island – the most famous of these are Tiu Kelep and Sendang Gile Waterfalls.
Best ways to travel to Lombok with kids
By Plane: The easiest way to get to Lombok Island is by taking a direct flight to Lombok International Airport from Singapore (2.5 hours). You can also take a direct flight (40 minutes) from Bali and there are many daily flights.
By Boat: There are a number of ways to get from Bali to Lombok. There are two boat options that depart from Bali — the fast boat and public ferry. You can take both from Padang Bai Harbour in Bali to Lembar Harbour in Lombok. The fast boat takes 1.5 hours and the public ferry takes around 5-6 hours. Keep in mind that fast boat trips are not recommended for kids under the age of 2, pregnant women, and people who have heart or back problems or other physical impediments. Seas can get rough and the boat ride can be very bumpy. Alternatively, if you’re looking for the cheapest possible way to get to Lombok, there is a public slow ferry departing hourly during the day from Padang Bai harbour, sailing to Lembar harbour in the south of Lombok.
Getting around Lombok
There is no public transportation on Lombok Island however you can rent a scooter or if you are with the family, a taxi. On Lombok island there are also meter taxis or you can hire a private driver with a car – just agree a rate beforehand.
Private Taxi Drivers: Very roughly drivers charge 600k as a daily rate (this would also be the price from the airport to Oberoi Hotel). We used two private drivers and both had decent cars with seat belts. You can What’s App them to arrange transport:
Bam Bang: +62 819-1799-0777
Man: +62 878-4616-2170
Is Lombok safe to travel with kids?
We can only speak from experience and having travelled to Lombok over 15 years ago (pre-kids) and then again a few months ago with kids aged 7 and 10 – we never felt unsafe. There are of course many things to keep a watch out for – there have been reports in Bali and Lombok of scams (around motorbike, surfboard and car hire/theft/damages) but we had no bad experiences. We would certainly recommend travelling to Lombok with kids – just keep your wits about you as you would travelling anywhere. We found the local people very friendly, helpful and eager to show us their beautiful country.
When is the best time to travel to Lombok?
Throughout the year, daytime temperatures in Lombok normally remain around 30°C but there are two distinct seasons:
High/Peak Season: From April to September, it is the dry season on Lombok Island. May – June is considered to be the best time to visit Lombok as the skies are clear, and it’s sunny and less humid so it’s perfect for enjoying snorkelling with clear visibility. This is also the best time for trekking and enjoying the beaches in Lombok while the greenery is lush after the rainy season has given it a boost. At the end of the dry season and before the rainy season starts in October, you can expect Lombok to be very dry and less lush.
Low Season/Off-Peak Season: From October to March, it is the rainy season in Lombok so expect more rain and higher humidity. The upside is that Lombok will be even quieter than it already is and you may get better rates at some hotels. We hear the surf conditions are pretty good still during this period.
Customs in Lombok
Indonesia is a majority Muslim country and you can expect to see (and hear) many mosques with the call to prayer happening a couple of times a day. When entering a mosque, men and women should wear clothes covering legs and arms and women should also cover their hair with a scarf.
Family-friendly Lombok Travel Tips:
- Bring earplugs (for early morning cockerels or if you are near a mosque and are a light sleeper).
- Depending on where you stay you may want to bring your own snorkelling equipment (especially kids’ sizes and life jackets).
We had such a fantastic trip showing our kids around Lombok, Indonesia and would not hesitate in recommending a visit here to enjoy the amazing snorkelling, the delicious Indonesian food and to experience Lombok’s unspoilt beauty where adventure waits!