Seven days in lombok

Last Updated on July 29, 2023

White Sand Beach in Gili Trawangan

We spent seven days in Lombok, Indonesia in mid-July 2023. The weather was actually nice when we landed at the airport. It was comfortable, neither warm nor cold. The humidity was low as it did not feel sticky. Near the beach was more humid and warm especially under the sun.

We stayed three days in northern Lombok near the town of Tandjung. Our accommodation was right in front of Sire Beach. We did a day trip to the well known Gilis which are Trawangan, Meno and Air. There was not much to do in Tandjung as the resort hotels are far apart so there is no congregation of shops and restaurants. We either walked or stayed at our accommodation in the evening as hailing a ride in this part of Lombok was a little challenging. Renting a scooter would have been an option but we chose not to because of the busy narrow roads.

We stayed four days in Kuta after Tandjung. Kuta is the complete opposite of Tandjung. There is no shortage of shops and restaurants that line the streets. Downtown Kuta was lively during the day and evening. The roads were wide and not too busy such that we felt comfortable riding a scooter even in the evening. We checked out the beaches near Kuta and did a day excursion to the secret Gilis.

the giliS

A small island is referred to as a Gili. There are multiple Gilis but the most known are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air which are west of the town of Bangsal out in the northwest Lombok. There is also the secret Gilis down in the southwest part of the main island, not far from the town of Lembar. These are Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and the basketball court sized Gili Kedis. We managed to set foot on all Gilis except for Gili Air.

Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air

We had our first glimpse of Gili Air from the ferry boat as it made its first stop. The port or dock was actually busy and a lot of people came on board the ferry boat. One of the passengers said that there was a festival and a wedding which explained the number of people. However, we noticed that the beach near the port was just lined up with boats.

Gili Air’s south shoreline

Gili Meno was better with less boats on the beach and fewer people on the dock. It was organized chaos when we got to Trawangan. People everywhere at the port and elbow to elbow. It appears that most of the crowd comes from Bali. The visitors from Bali were required to stop by the tourist office to pay the 10K IDR entry permit. One guy even said “more fees?”

We spent about an hour in Trawangan. We walked to the right of the port for 10 minutes then came back and walked another 10 minutes to the left of the port and came back. Though the beaches in Trawangan looked nice, we just did not want to be there as it was just full of people.

We took the 1 PM ferry ride to Meno. It is night and day difference between Meno and Trawangan. Meno has less people and quieter. We walked for about 20 minutes to scout the nearby beaches before deciding that we would spend the rest of the afternoon in Meno.

Gili Meno near the port
Gili Trawangan near the port

It was going to low tide by then and the Meno beaches to the East (right of the port) did not look as appealing as those to the West. We swam for a little bit but there was a strong current that went from East to West. I drifted about 100 meters in less than 10 minutes. There are sparse corals and coral fish, not unlike Raja Ampat which was teeming. It was also rocky and past head deep just a few meters from shore. So with the low tide, strong current and not as abundant marine life, we just cut short our visit to Meno and headed back to our hotel in Tandjung.

Gili Trawangan beach 10 minutes walk from the port
Gili Meno beach 10 minutes walk from the port

How to get to Gili Trawangan, Meno and Air

Trawangan, Meno and Air are only accessible by boat. There are primarily four places where you can get on a boat to take you to these Gilis. Two are from Bali and two are from Lombok. In Bali, you can either catch a ferry boat at Serangan which is near Denpasar at the south end of the island, or at Padang Bai which is more in the middle of the island on the East coast. In Lombok, there are public ferries and private boats at Bangsal. There is another port in Lombok that locals refer to as the private port because that is where the private tour boats operate.

At Tandjung, our Gojek and Grab apps could not find any available rides in the area to take us to Bangsal port. We had to pay the hotel shuttle driver 100K to drive us less than 10 minutes to the port. Our driver said not to trust anybody at the port when buying the ferry ticket. He said just go directly to the ticket counter. Indeed, when we got off the car, there were two people that immediately approached us asking if we wanted a tour boat. And this was just less than 10 steps away from the public ferry ticket counter. Even when we were purchasing our tickets and talking to the lady behind the counter, they kept talking.

The public ferries leave Bangsal every hour on top of the hour. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a photo of the schedule posted at the ticket center. However, one of the ferry employees told us that the last ferry leaving Bangsal to the Gilis is 4PM and the last ferry leaving Gili Trawangan back to Bangsal is 5 PM.

The ferry boats are basically a large speed boat that carries somewhere between 40 to 60 passengers depending on the boat (they have different boat sizes). Passengers are allowed to sit on the boat’s roof. The boat’s route is Bangsal > Air > Meno > Trawagan > Meno > Air > Bangsal.

Public speedboat ferry boat
Public speedboat ferry boat interior

The fare is 85K IDR for a one way ride to get to any of the Gili islands, meaning its the same cost whether you get off at Air or Trawagan coming from Bangsai. It is also another 85K IDR to go between islands. So if you are planning on seeing all three islands in one day, it will cost you 4 x 85K or 340K IDR for the day.

There is a slow boat that leaves Bangsai for Meno and costs less than half of the speedboat. The problem is that the slow boat only leaves twice a day (we were not able to get the schedule as we did not ride it). There are other boats in Bangsai that go to the three gilis and cost 20K IDR. But those only leave when the boat is full so there is no telling when that would happen.

Gili Nanggu, Sudak and Kedis

Tours of the secret Gilis are offered by multiple tour companies in Kuta. The only negative with signing up with one of these companies is that you will spend almost 3.5 hours just to get to the tour boat and back to Kuta. So it shortens the time spent on the three islands. We had about five hours total to spend on all three islands including the time for the boat to get to the islands.

Five hours was enough for us but we could have stayed longer if we had more time. Snorkeling was best at Nanggu because the fish are used to being fed. All we had to do was swim about 100 feet from shore and we were surrounded by fish looking at us expecting to be fed.

The waters of the secret Gilis are not as clear as the Gilis in the north, but it is clear enough to be able to see the fish and corals. Our tour boat’s first stop was Nanngu, then Sudak and last was Kedis. There is a 5K IDR per person cleaning fee at Nanggu and Kedis so its beaches are fairly clean of trash. Sudak’s beaches have some trash accumulation, except in the vicinity of the Warung and accommodations at the island’s southeast corner.

Nanggu’s southeast beach looks different now than what is shown in Google Maps street view. It still has the white sand beach but some has eroded to expose the coral rocks in some places. Google Maps street view pretty much shows an almost empty beach. Perhaps at early in the day but not so when we arrived at 11 AM. There were people but it was not terribly crowded. In the water, you do still need to look in front of you to make sure you do not run into someone.

People were carrying water bottles filled with a slurry of bread and water. The water bottle cap has a hole. Give it a little squeeze, out comes the food and the fish just goes on a feeding frenzy. It was very enjoyable to watch.

Feeding the coral fish at Gili Nanggu

Our boat captain said there is not much coral at Sudak so there is not as many fish compared to Nanggu. We made a stop at Sudak to eat lunch. There are only two places to eat, Warung Gili Sudak and Nirvana Gili Sudak. Warung Gili Sudak has about six tables underneath shade trees right in front of the water. They have additional tables under the restaurant’s main structure. Their prices are reasonable and the food was delicious. Nirvana Gili Sudak has less shade trees but has more than a 180 degree view of the water. We just walked over to Nirvana Gili Sudak after lunch to enjoy the view. There were colorful reef fish not too far from shore that came when we started putting little bits of bread in the water.

About to have lunch under the shade tree at Warung Gili Sudak

We went to Kedis at around 2 PM. It is the most crowded island because of its small size. There is coral on the island’s west and south sides but not a lot of fish to look at. Kedis’ draw is being on a small island where you can see the other end.

The shore of Gili Kedis. Gili Sudak is in the background to the left. Mainland Lombok is to the right.

How to Get to Gili Nanggu, Sudak and Kedis

We signed up with Forum TransKuta (FTK) in Kuta for an all day trip to the secret Gilis. FTK is run by Ronny along with his three brothers, Dennis, Bagidarma and Hari. We think that we got a fair deal from FTK considering the fact that it took 1 hr 40 minutes one way to drive from Kuta to the tour boats near Lembar. We bundled our trip with our airport transfer for additional savings. FTK’s stand is across the Treehouse Restaurant and Bar on Jl Raya Kuta road. Ronny can be reached at +62 878 6500 3553 (WhatsApp #).

Hari was the one who drove us to the boat tours and the airport. We can say without a doubt that Hari is one of the safer driver that we have ridden in Indonesia.

If you want to contract with the tour boats directly, just search for “Gili Nanggu Tour” in Google Maps and it will show you where to go. We have no idea how much the tour boats costs as we did not see any price charts. We only saw their tour signs on the side of the road.


Kuta is the total opposite of Tandjung. There is no shortage of shops and restaurants in town. The place is alive at night. You know that there is a lot going on when even the barber shop closes at 9 PM.

Kuta is primarily a surfing town. There were a lot of rental scooters that had surf caddies. There are several beaches within an hour motorcycle ride from town. We went to Kuta, Mawun, Putri Nyale, Segar, Selong Belanak, Tandjung Ann and an unnamed beach in front of the Novotel Resort next to Segar Beach. All the beaches we went to did not have clear water unlike the Gili Islands. The water had turquoise and sky blue color though.

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach is a long stretch of beach. The sand is a little on the coarse side. There was uncollected trash in some places and a lot of peddlers. There are some trees that provide some shade but the peddlers pretty much claimed that territory. We did not stay long in Kuta Beach.

Mawun Beach

Mawun Beach

Mawun Beach is a long stretch of beach. We found a shade tree near the west end. This is a quieter beach than Kuta. There were some peddlers but not the same number as Kuta. We could have spent the day here except we wanted to see Selong Belanak which was another 20 minute ride.

Putri Nyale

Putri Nyale Beach

We were able to have some peace and quiet at the Putri Nyale in front of the Novotel Resort. The beach was rather empty so there were not a lot of peddlers. We got asked about four times to buy something but we just kept saying no until they left us alone.

The sand in this beach was quite different. The sand particles were spherical and looked like quinoa seeds. The water near the beach did not have the turquoise color unlike the others. We spent the afternoon and was able to see the beach from high to low tide. The low tide exposed the bare rocky sea floor.

Segar Beach

Segar Beach at low tide

Segar Beach requires crossing about a 70 meter bamboo bridge followed by about a 5 minute walk up a little hill. The beach is lined with Warungs. We went to Segar during low tide and it was not appealing at all. We just looked at it and left.

Selong Belanak Beach

Enjoying Selong Belanak scenery from one of Laut Biru Bar and Restaurant’s tables under the trees

Selong Belanak was our favorite because it is picturesque even though the beach is lined with surf shops and the water was full of surfers. We were told by locals that the waves at Selong Belanak are easy to ride. This is the place to be if you want to learn to surf. The other drawback of Selong Belanak is it is about a 40 minute motorcycle ride from Kuta with some winding uphill/downhill road sections.

There is a nice restaurant west of the surf shops. They set up tables and chairs under the shade trees. We enjoyed our lunch under the tree while facing the beach/water and the people in it. It was also refreshing with the ocean breeze on our face. Though having a lot of people, it did not feel crowded. The only peddling we experienced were a couple of guys asking us if we wanted to rent an umbrella stand. We only left Selong Belanak because we had to return to our hotel before it got dark.

We were in Selong Belanak when the water was receding as it was going into low tide. Even at low tide, the beach still looked nice unlike Segar and Tandjung Ann.

Tandjung Ann Beach

Tandjung Ann Beach at low tide

We went to Tandjung Ann Beach during low tide and were not impressed by what we saw so we just left. It may be a different story if it was high tide.

Beach Parking Fees

Be prepared to have a lot of 10K bills with you if you rented a motorbike and wanted to go to any of the beaches we mentioned here. With the exception of Kuta Beach, the rest charges a 10K IDR parking fee. The fee was collected by locals, They did not wear any uniforms or IDs so we knew they did not work for the town. The fee collectors at Kuta, Mawun and Segar were the only ones that gave us a small piece of printed paper indicating that we paid for parking. The others just collected the parking fee.

Where We Ate At Kuta

Normally, we do not talk about where we ate or where we stayed as it is all subjective. However, we felt we needed to share our experience. We stayed at Truntum Boutique Mandalika in Kuta for four nights. Truntum is located up on hill and provides a commanding view. Kuta is not visible from Truntum as Kuta is tucked behind the hills.

Sunset at Truntum Boutique Mandalika’s Restaurant

We ate twice at Warung Alfa Dita Seafood. Their prices are hard to beat and food was delicious. We discovered their restaurant as we were walking on the street. We passed them by motorbike earlier and did not even notice it. My wife had a small lobster that came with rice and a side of water spinach for 150K. Our other meal only cost 105K IDR for a baby tuna, two rice orders and a side of water spinach. They are right in front of the Kuta Elementary School. They are not shown on Google Maps but they are next to Warung Sasak Mbak Desi which appears on the map. The two couples that run the place are very nice people.

Best deal in Kuta

Our least favorite was Kenza Cafe and Restaurant right at the corner of Jl Paristawa Pantai Kuta and Jl Raya Kuta. My wife checked the menu first before we sat down. The cost seemed in-line with other restaurants. We were surprised when the food arrived. It was ridiculously small in size. We did not even felt it in our stomach. It’s a good thing that we had Roma cookies (a local snack) in our bag to carry us until dinner.

OUR impressions of lombok

You can tell if a place is frequented by tourists by how well the locals speak English. There is no shortage of that in Lombok, especially at Bangsal and the Gili Islands. It is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because you can ask anybody and they can give you an answer. That is the bad part as you don’t know if they are being sincere and true or just trying to take you for a ride and squeeze more money out of you by trying to sell you something.

They have no fear of approaching you and to tell you that they have a good deal for you, whether it’s a boat or a car ride. We lost count of saying “tidak terima kasih” (no thank you) to make them go away. Even with that polite response, some are still persistent and just would not take no for an answer. Some would even follow us saying “I give you good deal” as we try to walk away.

other things to do in Lombok

What we did in Lombok was just barely scratching the surface. There are many things to do in Lombok. FTK said that their top three popular tours are the secret Gilis, followed by Mount Rinjani tours and Pink Sand Beach tours. Their pink sand beach tour goes to two islands that have pink beaches besides the one on the main island.

There are may other tours that we saw being offered by tour companies, including waterfall and trekking tours. There is no shortage of things to do in Lombok.


We spent seven days in July in Lombok, splitting our time between Tandjung in the north and Kuta in the south. The weather is on the warm side but definitely tolerable. We did not get rained on during our entire stay. Being the dry season, we had to put on lotion as our skin actually dried up.

Based on where we went, our choice of place to stay if we had to do it over again would be Gili Meno. White sands, crystal clear water, and less crowd are what appealed to us. Gili Air would be another place to experience a quiet island vibe. The waters around these Gilis are crystal clear with some marine life. Easiest and cheapest way to reach these Gilis is by public ferry boat from Bangsal port.

Down south, the town of Kuta is buzzing with tourists. It is primarily a surfing place. There is no shortage of shops, restaurants and warungs here. The beaches are not as pretty as the northern Gilis but its turquoise to deep blue waters are inviting on a hot day. Our favorite was Selong Belanak. You can have a nice meal at Laut Biru Bar and Restaurant while admiring the view in front of you.

We enjoyed our short excursion to the secret Gilis which are Nanggu, Sudak and Kedis. It was just like being in an aquarium in Nanggu as the coral fish started gathering waiting to be fed. Eating lunch under a shade tree by the beach in Gili Sudak was relaxing while setting foot on a basketball court sized island is something to tell stories about.

Having spent some time between Bali and Lombok, we can definitely say that the latter would be the place to be if we had to choose between the two.