Bandar Udarat International Airport is located near Praya in south central Lombok about 1hr south of Mataram, 1.5hrs drive from Sengiggi and 25min to Kuta. As well as daily domestic flights to and from Bali and Jakarta, the airport also connects with Yogyakarta and Surabaya (Java), Makassar, Sumbawa and Flores. The airport services almost daily international flights to and from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Direct flights from Perth were suspended in late 2014 so currently Australians have to come via Denpassar, Bali.
The cheapest way to get to Lombok from Bali is by taking the slow boat public ferry which runs every hour 24 hours a day, between Padang Bai harbour, Bali and Lembar harbour, Lombok. The crossing takes 4-5 hours depending on the weather and costs about 40.000Rp. If you’re planning on bringing a scooter over from Bali, the slow boat is your only option.
A considerably more expensive fast boat from Bali cuts the journey time to 1-2 hours depending on the Bali point of departure. There are numerous operators running throughout the day between Bali and Lombok via the Gili Islands. The best place to check schedules and book tickets is www.gilibookings.com. Keep in mind the Lombok Strait can get pretty hairy at times which may cause the cancellation of both slow and fast boat services.
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Ferries to and from Flores, via Sumbawa, operate from Labuhan Lombok Harbour on the east coast of Lombok daily. Tickets can be arranged through most travel agents or you can book them directly from the harbour at Labuhan Lombok.
Lombok – Gili Island Transfers – There are a few options for transferring between Lombok and the Gili’s. The first is a fast boat shuttle that runs daily between Sengiggi, Lombok, Gili T and Gili A. The trip takes 30-45min depending on which Gili you’re coming or going from. Again, check out www.gilibookings.com for schedule details and bookings.
The next option is to catch the public ferry from Bangsal Harbour just south of Tanjung over to any of the three Gili’s. The ferry is really just a large outrigger and runs when it has enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile, usually anytime between 8am and 4pm, so be prepared to wait if you have to. Beware the touts offering to carry your bags then demanding payment, telling you there are no more ferries (there are) or that there’s no sunscreen, insect repellent etc on the Gili’s (there is). And only purchase your tickets from the ticket office on the beachfront where fixed ticket prices are clearly posted.
Finally, you can charter a local outrigger boat from the beachfront at Sengiggi or Bangsal Harbour for a day trip or one-way transfer to the Gili’s. From Sengiggi, an outrigger takes around 1.5 hours to reach the Gili’s, or an hour from Bangsal, but it’s a lovely, scenic way to travel. If you’re going for a day trip, this is arguably your best option as the outrigger will be at your disposal to move around the islands and various snorkeling points, all of which your boatman will be very familiar with.
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