How To Travel Between Bali and Lombok
Making your way from Bali to Lombok during Indonesia’s high season can be a costly one. The fast boats are advertised everywhere and you may fall into the trap of believing this is the only way to get from one island to the other. While these boats are indeed fast, they are expensive. A roundtrip ticket (including transport to the ports) can run upwards of 800,000 IDR (roughly $80). The trip from one island to the other is about an hour and a half. For travelers on a budget, with a relaxed schedule or desire to travel as the locals do, there are indeed other options out there.
Meaning Slowly Slowly in Bahasa Indonesian, this will be your travel theme if you chose to ditch fast boat. The alternative is to travel from Bali to Lombok via the public ferry. The ferry runs between Padang Bai, Bali and Lembar, Lombok, departing every hour, running 24 hours. Depending on tides and currents, the ferry takes anywhere between four and five hours and will cost you 40,000 IDR (about $4).
Once you arrive to the harbor, just look for the big boats. At Padang Bai, it is the same harbor as the fast boats so transport from any major spots in Bali will be no issue. Perama Tours offers good shuttle bus deals, costing around 60,000 IDR ($6). If you are with a group, consider bargaining for a taxi or private charter. From Padang Bai to Kuta, normal rates will be around 250,000 IDR. Note that the last shuttle from Padang Bali to elsewhere in Bali is around 4. Consider this if you are grabbing a ferry from Lombok and planning to look for transportation once you arrive.
Getting an inclusive package is not a bad idea. From Kuta Lombok to Kuta Bali, it will be around 200,000 IDR. Costing you around 160,000 IDR for transport on shuttles and 40,000 IDR for the ferry. To save money even further, snag a bemo to the port.
There are slim transport options once you arrive in Lembar so the drivers have a bit of an upper hand. The more people you can share your car with the better. A car of 4 from Lembar to Sengiggi ran around 60,000 IDR a person (240,000 IDR total) while a private car from Kuta, Lombok to Lembar was 140,000 IDR.
Some tips for the public ferry…
1. Snag a seat up top. The ride is really breezy and comfortable. Just make sure to apply some sunscreen as you don’t feel the heat of the sun as much as you would bathing on the beach. Some people have been lucky enough add dolphin sightings to their ferry experience.
3. Plan to leave Bali around 2pm. You will arrive to Lembar around 6pm and can snag a great sunset from the boat as you dock. In contrast, leave Lembar on the ferry not later than noon so you can hop on the shuttle buses before they all leave Padang Bai.
1. Unless you don’t mind getting soaked, sit inside. They smartly advertise their “sun decks” which is really just a way to pack more people onto the boat. These boats have about 5 engines attached to their stern so these babies fly over the water – pouring buckets of sea water onto you as you skip over the white caps.
2. If that extra one or so hour of sun is imperative to you and you do chose the sit up top, ask the workers the best spot or side. You could walk away almost dry if your location is lucky. Everywhere else? Be prepared to be drenched and make sure to leave anything that’s not water resistant down below.
3. Prone to sea sickness? Well, good luck. This is a rough and rocky ride. If you can stomach the motion, any seats will be fine. If you’re a queasy one, grab a seat in the back…and a bag (you never know).
Location, Location, Location
Keep in mind your final destination when you are traveling between these islands. Depending on where in Lombok you will land, it may be smarter to catch some air.
If you are heading to south Lombok, consider flying. Domestic flights from Bali to Lombok will run around $25. Check out LionAir and Tiger Air for deals. If you are traveling light, baggage will be no problem but if you need to check your bags, this will create some additional financial hits.
If you plan to head to Gili from Bali, you are indebted to the fast boat. There is no other transport I have discovered that will get you from Bali to Gili without the fast boat. From Lombok, you can head to Bangsal to grab the public ferry to any of the Gilis for about 12,000 IDR.
All in all if you are not in a rush and have some time to spare, I highly recommend the public ferry over any of the other transport options. Not only is it the cheapest option but it is taste to local life. It may be slow travel but it’s the closest to the real Indonesian deal.