Indonesian islands that aren’t Bali: where to stay in Lombok and more

By Nadia Sheng,

Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert published Eat Pray Love tourists across the world have been flocking to Bali. But what they fail to realise is that Bali is just one of more than 17,000 beautiful islands that constitute Indonesia. If you fall into this category of people, fret not, because this article was written exactly for you. It is time you got introduced to a few other gorgeous Indonesian islands, a lot less visited and off the beaten path compared to Bali. This might just be the moment you were waiting for to just pack your bags, take the road less travelled and begin an unforgettable adventure.

Lombok

Lombok sits right next to Bali with only the Lombok Strait, measuring a stretch of 60 km, separating them. It’s a shame that, despite its location, Lombok is not always found on the itinerary of tourists going to Bali.

Just like its more popular neighbour, Lombok is adorned with pristine white sand beaches and offers a lot of hiking trails. It’s also home to Gunung Rinjani, the second highest active volcano in all of Indonesia. The highlight of this mount is its crater lake seen below. Take a hike to the top and you’ll pass lush green rice fields and small streams of running water. The miniature waterfalls near the summit give the illusion of being in a dreamland.

Mount Rinjani

The southern part of Lombok is where you’ll find colourful beaches not endanger of being encroached on by the Bali crowd. This part of the island is also home to some of the best surfing waters in Indonesia. That’s how diverse and beautiful Lombok is, but you don’t have to take my word for it. The images speak for themselves.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of islands is that they offer a very good selection of resorts. Lombok is no different in this regard. Our top picks for affordable luxury resorts in Lombok are…

Qunci Villas

Rating: 91/100

There cannot be a better place to stay on Senggigi Beach than the top rated hotel, can there? Qunci Villas hits the ball right out of the park in terms of guest satisfaction rating, a testament to their exemplary maintenance and customer service. Although the bar is set remarkably high, they just cannot seem to put their foot wrong in reaching the expectations of their guests.

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Living Asia Resort & Spa

Rating: 87/100

If there’s any hotel that comes close to knocking Qunci Villas off the top spot, it’s Living Asia Resort & Spa. It actually one-ups Qunci by providing a dedicated dive centre within its premises. Its prime location along the stunning Senggigi Beach entitles it to this. You won’t be disappointed by anticipating more than the traditional facilities from the resort. In fact, you’ll come out with a wide smile after your stay.

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The Chandi Boutique Resort

Rating: 90/100

The Chandi Boutique Resort is where beauty and excellence meet comfort and tranquillity. From the layout of its 15 villas amid a coconut grove to the 60 m+ rooms, everything is meticulously maintained. The management’s endeavour is to make you forget your worries back home. And with the option to have romantic dinner on the beach for two, oh boy, do they come out with flying colours!

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P.S. About 20 km away from the west coast are the famous Gili Islands. If you are interested in knowing what to do and where to stay in Gili, we got you covered here.

Raja Ampat Islands

These islands are a divers’ paradise. They fall within the Coral Triangle, believed to be the most diverse marine site in the world. The emphasis on marine biodiversity is the core of the island’s tourism industry.

Raja Ampat literally translates to Four Kings and refers to the archipelago of four large islands in the region. This archipelago, in fact, consists of more than one thousand small islands that encompass the four large ones. With fewer than 50,000 residents the islands are so sparsely populated that, with a little effort, you can find your own secret beach or lagoon. If you and/or your partner want to go anonymous for a weekend, you now know where to go. And biodiversity extends to its non-marine wildlife. Fancy bird watching? You ought to do it here!

Waiwo Dive Resort

Rating: 78/100

Diving is a common attraction among all the resorts, but the best diving option is provided by the Waiwo Dive Resort. Don’t expect a 5-star resort. When we call it “the best in Raja Ampat” this has to do with the best-value-for-money the resort offers. Quality and standards are higher than a normal homestay, and it provides the cheapest diving option in the vicinity. Location-wise, it’s in close proximity to the Waisai Airport and, at the same time, amidst a tropical forest. All in all a truly worthy place to stay and enjoy the serene natural beauty the surroundings have to offer.

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Kalimantan (Borneo)

Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of Borneo, the third-largest island in the world. It is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. As a matter of fact, it is 70 million years older than the famous Amazon rainforest. The diversity of flora and fauna is unmatched. A visit to the island is a must in order to see species native to the island including the endangered Bornean Orangutan, the Bornean clouded Leopard, Asian Elephant.

Mount Kinabalu

The word Kalimantan roughly translates to boiling weather. This hot climate is where rich plant and animal life thrives. To top it all off there are the Longhouses where the indigenous tribe (called the Dayak) live. It is highly recommended to visit them to experience their hospitality and unparalleled way of life.

Aston Balikpapan Hotel and Residence

Rating: 75/100


Aston Balikpapan is the only hotel in the article which is not a resort. The reason being Borneo is a huge island and a developed one at that. It can lay claim to big cities and great night-life apart from the rainforest. The best way to enjoy all of this is at Aston Balikpapan. Business, leisure or family, whatever the purpose of your trip may be, Aston has you covered. Sightseeing tours to the city as well as to the forest can be arranged at the drop of a hat.

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