Indonesia // Places to visit in and around Kuta, Lombok
Imagine dozens of gorgeous bays with huge stretches of white sand and bright blue water, awesome roads winding through tobacco plantations and rice fields all surrounding a vibrant coastal village that has everything you need to explore the area. Kuta is slowly but steadily becoming the new hotspot in Lombok!
Not to be mistaken for the famous resort town in Bali bearing the same name, Kuta in Lombok is still miles away from what Kuta in Bali has become. Sure, recent years have brought plenty of modern restaurants and accommodation to the area, but it doesn’t feel overcrowded or overdeveloped like the big tourist hubs in Bali – yet ;-)
Today, Kuta is still a chilled-out place where everything you need for a great holiday is within reach at very affordable prices!
Renting a scooter
There are plenty of beaches to go get a tan or catch a good wave but for us, the best activity in the area was renting a scooter and cruising around on the winding roads around Kuta. It’s a fun way to explore the area and hardly costs a thing! We rented our scooter through our hotel for only 60,000 IDR (= 4.6 USD) per day!
It sounds ridiculously cheap, but the downside is there’s no insurance. So obviously we tried to be as careful as we could when riding around the winding roads. Also, before you turn the throttle to full speed make sure you check everything: brakes, lights, tyres etc.
Which way to go?
Okay, helmets on, brakes checked, now where should you go first? From Kuta, there are basically three ways to go: gorgeous beaches at Selong Belanak in the west (via Jalan Mawun), the coastal town of Gerupuk in the east (via Jalan Pariwisata Pantai Kuta), or Sade, a traditional Sasak village up north (via Jalan Raya Kuta).
1. Kuta Market
The area just south of the intersection of these three streets is definitely worth a visit on Wednesdays and Sundays, when the hustling local market is up and running! Dozens of people shouting out prices and exchanging hands, stray dogs feasting on whatever fell on the ground and all kinds of traffic trying to squeeze in between the stalls. Very fascinating!
2. The western road to Selong Belanak
The 20 km long winding road between Kuta and Selong Belanak is the most spectacular road in the area. It’s also in great condition and almost no traffic, so perfect for the first day on the scooter!
As we cruised through the gorgeous rice fields and tobacco plantations we did have to keep an eye out for the herds of cows and stray dogs that were occasionally walking in the middle of the road :D !
The first stop we made after leaving Kuta was only 10 minutes away: the wonderfully located Ashtari Restaurant (for other excellent restaurants/bars in Kuta, click here!), perched atop the hill overlooking Kuta and the surrounding beaches! You can look as far as Gerupuk, which is more than 10 km away! They have an amazing breakfast deal (60,000 IDR for fresh juice, main dish and delicious coffee) and the view from the balcony is just to die for! Ashtari offers yoga classes as well.
After filling up our bellies at Ashtari’s, we followed the road further to the west until we reached the turnoff for Mawun Beach, about 10 km from Kuta. Here we had to pay a small entrance fee (10,000 IDR) to get close to the beach and park our scooter in a safe area. In fact, this is the case with every beach around Kuta. Mawan Beach is just gorgeous, and there are a few locals around selling drinks and renting out beach chairs.
From Mawan Beach, it’s another 10 km to the most beautiful beach on the coast, Selong Belanak Beach. A long stretch of white sand, crystal-clear turquoise water, and surrounded by rolling hills covered in palm trees… it doesn’t get any better than this! It’s also a popular spot for learning to surf, and plenty of locals will try to convince you to take lessons with them.
3. The eastern road to Gerupuk
This road will first lead you past Kuta Beach, the most accessible beach in the area and definitely not bad at all. But with so many other heavenly beaches around, we prefer going the extra mile to find something even more extraordinary ;)
Just after Kuta Beach there’s a turnoff to Seger Beach (also known as Putri Nyale Beach). There’s actually two access points to this beach (at both points you’ll have to pay a 10,000 IDR entrance fee), but the access point closest to Kuta centre (next to the Novotel Hotel) is a bit trickier as there’s a wobbly bridge along the way. Maybe not the kind you want to cross with an uninsured rental scooter :-)
Seger Beach is small but nice, but we especially loved this place at sunset. There’s a great vantage point on top of a hill overlooking the Kuta bay. The reef just in front of Seger Beach is also a popular spot for surfers, as it’s the closest surf break to Kuta.
Next up, Aan Beach and it’s neighbour Tan Juan Aan Beach. These two gorgeous beaches both have long beautiful stretches of white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. Lovely!
The eastern road finally ends up in Gerupuk, maybe not the most appealing village in the area, but the Gerupuk Bay is renowned for it’s great surfing conditions.
4. The northern road to Sade
After a few days cruising along Kuta’s beaches, we decided the time was right to get a bit of the region’s local culture. And what place could be better than Sade, a traditional Sasak Village just 7 km north of Kuta!
The houses of Sade are made of bamboo, clay and cow dung and are inhabited by the local Sasak tribe. You can just walk around the streets of Sade by yourself to see how the people live but there’s usually guides offering their services at the entrance of the village.
Sade is especially known for its weaving culture, and there are plenty of shops in the village where you can see demonstrations of the famous weaving techniques.
Of course, all this beaching and cruising around makes you hungry so we’re working on a list of great places to eat in Kuta, Lombok. Coming very soon on our blog!