While the distance between the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok is small, 35 kilometers (22 miles), the islands are worlds apart. The former is lush and green, the latter drier and scrubbier. Bali is mostly Hindu; Lombok, like most of Indonesia, is predominantly Muslim. Even the animals and birds are different on the two islands, as they sit on opposite sides of the Wallace Line (discovered by the 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, it marks the boundary between areas populated by Asian and Australian fauna). For the traveler, an essential difference is that while Bali welcomes thousands of visitors each year, Lombok remains largely under the radar, offering a look at Indonesian life on an island without large resorts or tour buses.
Mataram, Lombok's largest town, has a few sights, the most notable being the temple-mosque complex of Pura Lingsar. Dominating the entire island is Indonesia's second-largest volcano, Gunung Rinjani, and even if you don't attempt to reach its summit, a walk along its trails offers glimpses of birds and monkeys and views of the entire island. Finally, the beautiful Gili Islands, even smaller and more off the beaten path than Lombok itself, are worth the journey to reach them.