Lombok is Bali's island neighbour, so you might think that they are pretty similar. But in fact, they are actually very different from each other. Once you fly into Lombok, you will see immediately for yourself.
There are a few different ways to travel to Lombok. You can either take a boat or a ferry, which will take between 1.5-5 hours, depending on the speed and the boat type. Seriously, if you take the slow ferry, it can take up to a few hours. But with a speed boat, you will be there in a short amount of time. Usually the boats dock around Senggigi area and the northwest coast, especially the speed boats going to the Gili Islands after. Alternatively, you can take the plane. It is only a short flight away from Bali, around 30 minutes, and there are a few flights during the day. Airlines such as Garuda, Wings Air or Lion Air operate to Lombok and you can even fly there straight from Kuala Lumpur, and also Jakarta. The airport Praya is located in the south of the island and about 30 minutes away by car to the southern coast.
Coming from Bali, Lombok sends out very different vibes compared to its island neighbour. The landscape is very green, same as Bali, but it seems a bit more rural. There are many parts, where there is no population and you just drive straight through the greens. Bali definitely has that charm as well, if you drive up towards the north or the east of the island, but even in Lombok's busier regions, it is still quite empty. I myself consider that very beautiful. Especially when you fly into Lombok airport, you can see many palmtrees and lush forests from above. Definitely a different feeling compared to flying into Bali with huge resorts lined up the coast.
Staying in the south of Lombok, in Kuta area, you will find many pretty beaches with clear blue water and sandbanks. Also if you want to go for a surf, you will find a few beaches suited for a surf session. There are many accommodation options in Kuta area. Mostly, it is filled with homestays, but if you are looking for a more private accommodation, you will also find some nice villas. Along the streets, there are plenty little food shacks and you will can also find a few more modern restaurants, if you are craving more western food or some healthy dishes. Definitely not in that amount as compared to Bali, but there are a few. Personally what I like about that area, is that it sends out peaceful and relaxing vibes, compared to the hectic and traffic filled streets of Bali. You ride around with your motorbike, along the coast and in between palmtrees, without much noise and many people.
I have been to Lombok a few times now, southern and northern part, but I prefer staying in the southern part of the island. Especially if you are going by yourself and are looking for some quiet time alone, the southern part offers many possibilities to discover quiet beaches and nice spots. Tanjung Aan is a great bay close to Kuta for some sunbathing and relaxing time. The water there is clear and it is great to go for a swim. Before Tanjung Aan, you will find Seger beach, where you can go for a surf and it is also a great sunset spot. I personally like the ride down to Seger beach, once you leave the main street. You just ride between huge palmtrees towards the ocean, it is a beautiful sight.
If you are looking for huge white sandbanks, you can drive more towards the west and visit Selong Belanak beach. This beach is also great to go surfing for as a beginner or just to chill by the beach all day. The sandbanks are wide and you can walk around the entire bay. It is ensured to find a quiet spot for yourself on that huge beach and the landscape around with some hills, is just a great view.
The best thing about driving in the southern area, is the landscape. The drive from Kuta to Selong Belanak is a very scenic drive. There are many hills and lush tropical greens on the way. I woke up one day very early and drove during sunrise in that direction. On the way, you can make a stop at Ashtari up on the hill, where you can watch a beautiful sunrise and also join for a Yoga session in the morning. You can just walk-in and pay for one single class (around 100.000 Rp) or if you are there for a longer time, get a 10-times pass or a monthly one. This place is beautiful for a yoga session in general, but especially in the morning. While you do some stretching in the middle of the greens, the sun is rising and you see it rising above the bay and the ocean. Further down the ride, you pass beaches such as Mawun or Mawi. These are great beaches to go for a surf. During my last ride to Selong Belanak, I stopped several times on the way just to enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean and the tropical plants. Especially in the morning hours, there is not much traffic and you feel like you are part of the nature. It is a beautiful feeling.
If you wish to do some snorkeling or explore some islands besides the Gili islands, there are some other options such as driving towards the western coast. There you have the possibility to visit Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and Gili Bedis. These three little islands are close to each other and offer great beaches and a quiet environment. If you are lucky, you are only surrounded by palmtrees and some fish and turtle in the water. A bit further down the coast, you can visit Gili Gede, which offers more life on the island and a beautiful scenery as well. It is bigger than the other islands and therefore also offers some accommodations to stay overnight.
Lombok has very much more to offer. Other great things are to visit Mount Rinjani and go for a climb or hunt some waterfalls in the central and western part of the island. Don't underestimate its beauty and definitely explore the island for a few days, while you are in this region. I personally always enjoyed my stay there and will definitely come back again.