Bali vs Lombok – What Island Is Best To Visit? 2023 Guide

Let’s delve into Indonesians most popular islands of Bali and Lombok. two most popular islands: Bali and Lombok. After factoring in accessibility, tourism, beaches, and activities, only one island will be named, ” Best Indonesian Island to visit in 2023!
The stunning countryside of Bali. Photo: Geio Tischler | Unsplash

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Did you know that Indonesia has over 17,000 islands? With so many to choose from where do you begin?

Let’s start by delving into its two most popular islands: Bali and Lombok. After taking a closer look at things like accessibility, tourism, beaches, and more, I will announce the winner. So which island will be named, ” Best Indonesian Island to visit in 2023? ” Keep reading to find out!

Introduction: Bali and Lombok

Bali and Lombok are similar in many ways. They are the in the same country, have similar prices, and they both have beautiful scenery. With all the similarities there are just as many differences between the two.

In Bali, there are amazing temples, beaches, rice terraces, volcano treks, and surfing. Bali has so much to do and tons of activities to choose from. Simply put – it is touristic and westernized.

Lombok is for those who prefer peace and quiet while enjoying untouched nature off the beaten path. Lombok’s culture is unique and rich. The locals perform warrior dances in traditional clothing.

So which is better? Let’s find out.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, Photo: Byond Travel I Flickr

Bali vs Lombok: Accessibility

You’ve chosen Indonesia as your next adventure. Now, it’s time to decide which island is best in terms of accessibility: Bali or Lombok. In general, Indonesia’s archipelago of islands are easily navigated by both air and water.

Bali’s International Airport in Denpasar is one of the busiest and most popular airports in Indonesia. With many cheap direct flights available, it is easier to get to.

Ferry Port, Lombok, Photo: Jorge Láscar I Flickr

While Lombok also has an international airport, it is more difficult to find direct flights. Many who choose Lombok have a stopover in Bali’s airport, then fly over in a small propellor plane.

It’s also possible to get to both Bali and Lombak by boat from Indonesia’s largest island of Java. Ferries to Bali leave every 15 minutes, and it only takes about 30 minutes to get to Gilimanuk, Bali. In contrast, the ferries to Lombok leave from a more rural island called Sumbawa, and therefore it is not as accessible.

When it comes to accessibility, it really isn’t much of a contest. Bali takes the cake.

Winner: Bali

Bali vs Lombok: Tourism

Photo: Lisa Leonardelli I Flickr

Bali attracts thousands of tourists every year and the island’s economy has become dependent on it. Kuta is one of Bali’s biggest cities and it is filled with restaurants, beach bars, and clubs that cater to tourists. While sometimes this can be nice, it can also get overwhelming. There are vendors around every corner selling anything and everything, and backpackers partying the night away.

Lombok has fewer tourists which means less pollution and a more laid-back atmosphere. Some have compared it to Bali 20 years ago and the nightlife is more geared towards laid-back surfers. Personally, I prefer less crowded areas where I can immerse myself in the culture. That’s why I’m voting for Lombok. For a proper Indonesian getaway, lounging in Lombok is the way to go.

Winner: Lombok

Bali vs Lombok: Beaches

Considering Bali and Lombok are both islands, one has to mention the beaches.

Beach in Lombok, Photo: Mazzali I Flickr

Unfortunately, many of Indonesia’s beaches are suffering from extreme plastic pollution. Visitors to the island often see plastic waste washing up on the beach; especially during monsoon season.

The good news is that locals are doing everything in their power to combat pollution. They regularly host beach clean-ups and have prohibited the use of all single-use plastics on the islands.

While both islands suffer from pollution, it is substantially worse in Bali. Don’t get me wrong, Balis’s black sand beaches are beautiful, just not quite as stunning as Lombok’s peaceful and pristine beaches

When it comes to beaches in Lombok, you’ll get idyllic beaches and while Bali is considered a surfers heaven, Lombok is even better.

Winner: Lombok

Temple in Bali, Photo: Layla Jones I Earth Curious

Bali vs Lombok: Activities

Bali has no shortage of fun activities. It has breathtaking rice fields, waterfalls, and ancient temples. The Bukit Peninsula attracts surfers and Ubud brings the yogis wanting to live like Julia Robert’s character from Eat Pray Love.

  • Surfing – Kuta beach is great for surfing lessons and Bukit is best for advanced surfers.
  • Temples – There is Tanah Lot, the Mystical Elephant Caves at the Goa Gajah, and many many more.
  • Rice terraces – Ubud has Tegallalang Rice Terraces and coffee farms.
  • Monkey Forest – Ubud’s monkey forest is filled with Buddhist and Hindu temples that date back thousands of years and just as the name suggests -there are monkeys everywhere and they will steal your food.

Lombok is more for adventurous nature lovers. In other words, there are more hiking trails, waterfalls, and mountains.

Tiu Kelep Waterfall, Photo: Lando Mikael Flickr
  • Mount Rinjani – There are challenging three-day hikes up to the top of the volcano. At the top, there’s a turquoise crater lake and the Air Kalak hot springs.
  • Pink Beach – The pink beach of Lombok is an incredible sight to see. It’s not easy to get to though, so expect an adventure. It’s also perfect for snorkeling
  • Tiu Kelep Waterfall – It’s a 45-minute hike through the jungle to the beautiful cascades

Winner: Bali

Ubud Monkey Forest, Jumilla I Flickr

Bali vs Lombok: Accommodations

Whether you are looking for resorts, hotels, hostels, or Airbnb accommodation, you can find them on both Bali and Lombok. Considering the fact that Lombok doesn’t have as many tourists, prices tend to be cheaper.

Overall, Bali has more options, especially when it comes to hostels and budget accommodation.  

Winner: Bali

Temple in Bali, Photo: Layla Jones I Earth Curious

Bali vs Lombok: When to visit

Lombok and Bali have the same monsoon season and similar climates. On both islands, the rainy season runs from October through to April so the best time to visit either island is during the dry season from May to November.

If you can only travel during the rainy season, consider choosing Bali over Lombok. I say that because there are more indoor activities to enjoy in Bali.

Winner: Bali

To Sum Up

Now it’s time to announce the winner… drumroll, please… Bali. While it largely depends on your personal preferences you really can’t go wrong.

In short, Lombok is best for nature lovers that aren’t trying to party while Bali has more high-end hotels, and more to offer overall.


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