Top 10 Things to Do in Bali and Lombok

In Bali and Lombok, every day is a new adventure. With seemingly endless opportunities to explore marine ecosystems, inland forests, spiritual sanctuaries, and bustling beach communities, you could probably spend a lifetime on the islands and never get bored. But if you just have a few days, here are the top ten things to do in Bali and Lombok:

1. Visit Uluwatu Temple

Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Pura Luhur Uluwatu is perched on a dramatic cliff. Photo © Ivanukh | Dreamstime

Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s most sacred temples, was built in the 11th century on a dramatic cliff 230 feet above the sea. While the temple itself is reserved for practicing Hindus, the beautiful temple grounds are open to all. Just keep an eye out for the clever long-tailed macaque monkeys—they have a penchant for pickpocketing.

2. Experience life like a local on Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a gorgeous, relatively undeveloped island just southwest of Bali. The jagged limestone cliffs, sugar sand beaches, turquoise waters, and tiny villages make Nusa Penida the ideal offbeat escape. Hike to stunning vista points, dive with manta rays, and unwind with seafood and cocktails at a beach shack café.

3. Shop in Ubud

Ubud is one of the best places in Bali to shop for boutique clothing, jewelry, yoga products, artworks, handcrafted soaps, and natural products. The markets and boutiques offer a colorful mix of traditional handicrafts and trendy souvenirs, and a walk around Ubud will reveal a variety of items not found elsewhere in the world.

4. Learn about ancient cultivation techniques at the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Photo courtesy of Chantae Reden.

Every shade of green exists at Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a sprawling carpet of rice paddies so uniform that it looks like a staircase created for the gods. The paddies are irrigated using the UNESCO World Heritage-recognized subak system, in which the water that flows into the paddies passes through a temple first and is considered holy. Besides being educational, this is a lovely and serene spot for a refreshing walk or meditation.

5. Scuba dive off the coast

The ocean surrounding Bali and Lombok is home to coral reefs, shipwrecks, and sea creatures big and small. Out in the open water, you can swim with manta rays, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and mola-mola–the heaviest fish in the world. Countless dive centers offer beginner lessons, master courses, and adventurous day trips for sea creature-spotting or coral conservation.

6. Watch the sun rise over the caldera of Gunung Rinjani

Sunrise at Gunung Batur
Sunrise at Gunung Batur. Photo courtesy of Chantae Reden.

The sacred peak of Gunung Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia, is undoubtedly Lombok’s most impressive feature. Follow the Timbanuh or Aik Berik hiking trails, open from April to December, for a two-day trek leading to the crater rim and unbeatable views of colorful sunrises, lacey waterfalls, and lush green forests.

7. Escape the crowds at one of Lombok’s southern beaches

On Lombok’s southern coastline, you’ll find one stunning beach after another. Find a soft patch of sand all to yourself at local-favorite Mawunor or catch an Instagram-worthy sunset on Tanjung Aan. Snack on freshly grilled corn while soaking up the sun on Selong Belanak or carved pineapple and coconuts on Mawi. A trip to Lombok would be incomplete without at least one full carefree beach day.

8. Feel the pulse of nightlife in Kuta and Seminyak

In Bali’s two trendiest neighborhoods, beach clubs turn into nightclubs effortlessly. Head to Seminyak for swanky cocktail bars, jazz joints, and casual poolside drinks. Really want to let loose? Kuta is your go-to for a party that never stops: Barhop throughout the night or break a sweat to electronic dance music at high-energy clubs with multiple DJ stands.

9. Relax on Gili Trawangan

A beach on Gili Trawangan
A beach on Gili Trawangan. Photo courtesy of Chantae Reden.

The liveliest of the three Gili Islands off Lombok, Gili Trawangan has an abundance of restaurants, vibrant nightlife spots, and dive centers. While the sun is out, people snorkel and dive around sea turtle-filled coral reefs or lounge along the island’s sandy beaches. Come nighttime, the main road filled with travelers and locals who live by a work hard, play hard philosophy.

10. Surf some of Bali and Lombok’s spectacular waves

Pro surfers and beginners alike flock to Bali and Lombok for mellow breaks and powerhouse barrels. In Bali, you’ll find the best waves along the western coastline from April to September. Most of Lombok is worth surfing year-round, but the southwest peninsula hits its prime between May and September.

Start planning your adventure today: