Lombok is the island neighboring Bali and is a 30 minute flight or a 2 hour boat ride away. We stayed in Kuta in the south of Lombok for 4 nights at the end of our trip. Lombok is a predominantly Muslim island so there are heaps of beautiful mosques that dot the jungle making it a beautiful drive through the misty mountains (full of monkeys) down to Kuta. Lombok is completely untouched in comparison to Bali, with a tourism industry that is only just starting to blossom. It has been a popular destination for surfers for years so there are plenty of options for places to stay and eat as long as you're not concerned about luxury. I imagine Kuta is exactly how Bali would have been 20 years ago. There are a few cafes and bars opened up in the main town that are run by Australians and cater to the more 'needy' tourists however the rest of the town still consists of Indonesian wrungs, homestays, stray chickens and dirt roads. Once outside the town apart from the occasional wooden hut there is nothing but green.
We stayed at the Sawe Homestay which was $4 each a night including breakfast. We had a private room with a balcony and a bathroom. I booked it through booking.com 2 days before we arrived. It was a new business so it didn't have many reviews. It was in a great location, a 2 second scooter ride from the center of town and a few minutes away from Kuta Beach.
We hired our scooter from the owner of the homestay for $6 a day and used it to travel to all the beaches that cover the nearby coastline. There is no point coming here if you aren't comfortable on a bike as there is no other way to get around and the distances are quite large.
Once you get out of town the roads are paved so the driving is pretty easy and the scenery is out of this world.
We went to' Sonias 2' for dinner almost every night, it was cheap, basic food (but really yummy). There are a few fancy cafes that have opened up in town. They are all next to each other and each have a different theme/concept. They are similar prices to Bali (so muuuuch cheap than Sydney) but still at least double the price of what you would usually pay in Indonesia. On the road back from Mawi there is a resort/restaurant up on the hill called the Artisia cafe that has been newly opened. We went there for lunch (which was delicious) although a little expensive ($5 each) the owner was super lovely and gave us bean bags to lie on by the pool while we sipped on watermelon juice and bintangs (how awful).
The beaches here are amazing. Maui and Mawan were my favorites. The road to Mawi was ridiculous, deep puddles of mud and long winding roads, we had to walk most of it and I had a massive cut on my foot that was bathing in dirty/cow shit which i'm sure was incredibly hygienic. Mawan was my favorite by far, the water glowed it was so blue and a huge green hill at the far side of the beach loomed over us. We went there twice and if you can ignore the pesky coconut sellers and the bracelet children who are cute at first but...then this will probably be your favorite beach too. It wasn't too far out of town, about a 15 minute drive and the road in is easy to drive on and navigate. You have to pay an entry fee of $1 per bike for all the beaches.
On our last night we road up the massive hill on the right side of the town to watch sunset and found an amazing bar fittingly called Sunset Bar. We stopped there to watch sunset over the valley and the bay and because it is so high up you can see almost to the edge of the island. (v cool)
We took the public boat across from Gili to the Lombok mainland and then got a transfer up into the mountains. We booked a second private transfer from Senaru to Kuta Lombok that cost us $60 ($30 each) which is a lot of money in Asia and if we had more time/were better informed of how to get around we wouldn't have paid this. The original price they offered was $200 so we did a decent job bartering them down. Next time I go to Lombok i'll buy a map and hire a motorbike to get around the island. The distance from the north to the south is only 4 or so hours with lots of beautiful places to stop in between. If a transfer is easier for you however, they can be booked at any of the travel companies or from most of the homestays dotted around the island. To get back to Bali at the end we got a taxi for $4 each to Lombok airport and caught a 45 minute flight for $18 with Wings air that I booked online about a month in advance.
total for 4 nights: $223 ($112 each)