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Lombok (means "chili pepper") is the most popular side-trip for Bali-based tourists. The chief reason is its proximity to Bali. Another major draw is Lombok's Gili Islands.
Although relatively close geographically, Lombok and Bali are dissimilar in many ways. Lombok is drier, less lush (especially in the island's east and south). However, overall, Lombok has better swimming and surfing beaches. Its character is less hurried and touristy.
The two islands are ethnically different. Bali is inhabited chiefly by the Balinese while near 90% of Lombok's population is Sasak. The two peoples have different languages, cultures and religions. In Bali, the predominant faith is Hindu-Dharmaism while in Lombok, it's Islam.
It takes just 30 minutes to fly from Bali to Lombok's Mataram Airport.
You can travel to Lombok on a large, modern, comfortable passenger-only ferry in 2.5 hours. The ferry service operated by Bounty Cruises transports you directly to strategically situated Senggigi while the Mabua Express ferry service drops you off farther south, at Lembar. If you have an automobile or motorcycle, you need to take a considerably slower car ferry.