Island hopping through Nusa Tenggara

With 17,000-plus isles to choose from, planning an Indonesian island-hopping adventure can feel overwhelming. If you’re beginning – but not wanting to end – your adventure on Bali, the Nusa Tenggara archipelago to the east is an excellent place to start. Bouncing between ferries and buses, you’ll have an intimate window on a natural wonderland.

Hang out with Indonesians on the decks of boats, gazing at innumerable tiny islands which dot the seas around larger siblings such as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and West Timor. Catch buses across the major islands, stopping off for beaches, surf breaks, dive spots, eons-old villages, tourist towns, beautiful views and much more.

The following itinerary takes you from Bali all the way to West Timor on a journey that can fill a 30-day visa. Travel as far east as you want and then fly back to Bali from various airports along the way.

 

Lombok

Just east of Bali, similarly sized Lombok makes a perfect transition to the exotic adventures of Nusa Tenggara. It has the tourist services of its famous neighbour but is much less crowded, and has a vibe that doesn’t march to the beat of visiting hordes. Among the star attractions are the superb south coast beaches, starting with the wide, azure bay at Kuta.

 

Personality

Lombok is almost entirely Muslim, with many grand new mosques evidence of the island’s growing prosperity. It’s relaxed, pragmatic and tourist-friendly.

 

Getting there and around

From Bali, hourly public ferries make the four- to five-hour trip to Lembar on Lombok. Along the way, enjoy fine views of soaring Gunung Agung on Bali and southwestern Lombok, which includes the legendary surf break, Tanjung Desert (Desert Point). There are also fast boats to Senggigi on Lombok or you can go via the Gili Islands. Public buses run frequently to the eastern port town of Labuhan Lombok. From the main city, Mataram, you can buy through tickets to islands further east. It’s about four hours by bus across Lombok.

Lombok’s modern airport at Praya is close to the southern beaches and has frequent flights to Bali and the main cities in Nusa Tenggara.