Lombok is an island in Indonesia, part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is separated from Bali by the Lombok Strait. Lombok is what travelers consider “unspoiled Bali”, with pristine beaches, lovely waterfalls and a volcano overlooking the island. It’s still not overrun by travelers and thankfully the island still retains the traditional way of life. While there are expensive hotels here, those are the exceptions as most accommodation is cheap and traditional.
There are three ways to get from Bali to Lombok: by plane, by high speed ferry and by public ferry. The backpacker’s way is definitely by slow pubic ferry. For under US$5 you can get between Bali and Lombok in about 4-5 hours.
If you are in a hurry, then consider flying. Since airfare is comparable to high speed ferry ticket, it’s definitely worth it to travel in about 35 min between the two places.
Selaparang International Airport (airport code: AMI) is the only airport serving the island of Lombok. Flights to/from Denpasar (Bali) are run by Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia Air Transport, Lion Air, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, TransNusa Air Services, Trigana Air Service and Wings Air.
On large booking engines (eg. Kayak), you can find one way tickets from US$154. The flight takes 35 min and is operated by Garuda Indonesia. However, if you run a search online, you can find flights from Bali to Lombok for fares starting at US$28 one way, on Lion Air. Even flights from Garuda Indonesia can be book for fares starting at US$78 one way. But please note that the fares are time sensitive and you can book cheaper flights if you wait until two weeks before departure. Otherwise, expect to pay from US$78 one way.
There are quite a lot of ferry companies running services between Bali and Lombok.
Blue Water Express fast boat runs services to Lombok from either Serangan or Padang Bai. Boats from Serangan depart at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. (this one makes a stop in Padang Bai), while the boat from Padang Bai departs at 11:25 a.m. The travel time is between 1 h 15 min and 2h 30 min.
Rates start at IDR 690,000 / US$80 one way if you depart from Serangan and IDR 590,000 / US$68.44 one way if you depart from Padang Bai. Children (age 3-12) get discounts (IDR 590,000 / US$68.55 from Serangan, IDR 490,000 / US$57 from Padang Bai respectively).
Cheaper alternatives can be found. For example, Ocean Star also runs services from Padang Bai to Lombok. Ferries leave at 8 a.m. and arrive at 10:30 a.m. and the rates are Rp. 660.000 / US$76.56 one way for adults and Rp. 350.000 / US$40.60 for children (age 2-10).
Narooma fast boat services runs ferries from Benoa Harbour Bali island to Lombok. Ferries depart daily at 8 a.m. and arrive at 10:30 a.m. Rates are Rp. 680.000/ US$79 one way for an adult and Rp. 480.000 / US 55.70 for a child (age 2-10).
If you purchase a return ticket, from any company, you’ll get a discount.
The public ferry is the cheapest way to get between Bali and Lombok. Ferries depart from Padang Bai (East Bali) every 2 hours and they also carry vehicles. There are departures between 9:20 p.m. and 9:50 a.m. The travel time is between 4 and 5 hours. The prices are really cheap compared to the high speed ferries. Adult rates are IDR 31,000 /US$4, while children pay IDR 19,000 / US$2.20 one way.