Lombok is just one of the seventeen thousand islands in the Indonesian archipelago but the frothing surf, vibrant skateboarding culture, and pristine beaches put it on the radar of the majority of travelers that dare to venture outside Bali. If you’re a digital nomad who has fallen in love with the exquisite barrelling waves of Desert Point or taken a shine to the turtles and mantas around the Gili Islands, chances are you’ll want to hunker down in Lombok for a bit. 

The island has a native population of three and a half million people and the annual tourist footfall is almost as much, which means that outsiders like us have more power than we realize to influence trends, vote with our wallets, and enable empowerment in ways little and large.

After calling the sunny, winding streets of Lombok home for two years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to watch travelers come and go and have identified certain guidelines that can be easily followed by anyone who wants to create a positive impact here with their presence. 

READ MORE: The Best Digital Nomad Destinations in Lombok


If you’ve got the right skills, time, and passion for serving the community, nothing can have quite as much of a positive impact as volunteering. Despite scattered efforts, education, and environmental conservation remain weak points within local administration, especially in the more rural parts of the island. A common volunteering opportunity is teaching English in organizations to help buttress the effort made by local schools. Foundations like Batu Bambu Kids offer the option to volunteer on site and remotely, as per your abilities. 

Donating to a Local Project

Over the last few years, Lombok has been hit by major earthquakes in the north as well as the dampening impact of the pandemic on tourist-reliant businesses. The smallest donations that you can give go a long way—ten dollars can feed a family of four for a week! Some active organizations are Invest Islands Foundation and Lombok Care Foundation

Carrying Sustainable Alternatives With You

Most travelers that visit in the hot and dry months don’t stick around to see the trash-riddled shores that the wet season brings. The rampant use of single-use plastic is an ongoing crisis in Indonesia and simple things such as carrying your own refillable metal water bottle, refusing plastic straws, and carrying a cloth bag to do your groceries are steps in the right direction. Setting an example creates a shift in the local practice which ultimately compounds to a much more conscious way of making day-to-day choices. 

Respecting the Local Way of Life

By letting your experience be shaped by the local culture and customs, you signal to the the people who live there that you respect and honor the way of life that they have adhered to for centuries. By dressing modestly in town, saving the shirtless look and bikinis for the beach, learning a handful of local greetings and respecting that the cleaners might not want to touch pork or bacon items, you’re assimilating with the culture in a valuable way. Deep diving into the local culture has some pretty fun potential outcomes too like invitations to local weddings, learning to cook traditional Sasak meals, going spearfishing, or learning to climb a coconut tree.  

Exchanging Culture

The easiest way to erase the idea of “us” and “them” might be to befriend the local people you meet and spend quality time together. You can kick a football around on the beach with the local kids, request the Ibu at your regular warung to help you learn to tie a traditional sarong, or join in the infamous karaoke nights that are the heart of the local nightlife. Either way, you’re sure to win one of the million rupiah Sasak smiles and find yourself in the thick of this warm and welcoming culture. 


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