Kuta, Lombok Travel Guide

Long overshadowed by Bali, its popular neighbor to the west, Lombok is quickly becoming the next hot spot for travelers visiting Indonesia. With its pristine beaches, amazing waves, friendly locals, and dramatic landscapes, Kuta, Lombok is the perfect base to explore the southern part of this exquisite island.

Unlike the city in Bali, which shares the same name, Kuta in Lombok is far from overdeveloped and overrun by tourists. It maintains it’s natural beauty with cliffs and mountains reaching the coasts to create inspiring views. Kuta is more than just beautiful though; it boasts some of the best surfing in the world and has a rich, vibrant culture thanks to very friendly locals, the Sasaks.

Selong Belanak, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Soaking up the sun at Selong Belanak, Kuta, Lombok

Whether you’re looking to kick back and relax or be more active and adventurous, here are some of my suggestions when you are in Kuta/ Lombok:

What to Do in Kuta, Lombok

Surf – Kuta is a surfer’s paradise. There are over 17 different surf breaks that can be accessed from Kuta including baby waves for beginners to epic barrels for pros.

Mawun Beach, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

All alone! Mawun Beach, Kuta, Lombok

The best beginner beaches are Selong Belanak (40km away), Tanjung Aan (5km to the east of Kuta), and Mawun Beach (12km away). Gerupuk (10km away) is good for both beginners and intermediate surfers, though you’ll need to take a boat to reach the spot. Pros flock to Desert Point, a legendary left-hand wave, though it only appears a few times a year.

Tanjung Ann, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Tanjung Ann.. only a short ride away from Kuta, Lombok!

Wander and explore Kuta and the rest of Lombok
 – If surfing is not your thing, the beaches listed above are all lovely to spend a day soaking in the rays. You can also spend some time snorkeling in Gili Naggu or Seger Beach or zip to the famous Pink Beach, which gets its color from the pink coral.

Pink Beach, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Pink sand! Pink Beach, Kuta, Lombok

Hopping on a scooter is always my favorite way to explore any place I visit. You can stop by local Sasak villages including the pottery village of Penujak and the weaving village of Sukarare. Keep an eye out for the bulls that will wander slowly across the road in front of you! You can also easily book a trip to climb Mt. Rinjani or to Flores via Komodo… if you dare!

South of Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Exploring south of Kuta, Lombok on a scooter

Check out our Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok for more ideas.

Eat and Drink in Kuta, Lombok

Gado-gado at Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Local specialty, gado-gado (mixed veggies with peanut sauce!) at Kuta, Lombok

Still, in its tourism infancy (which is a plus in our opinion!) the center of town is mostly made up of locally owned warungs, homestays *, and surf shops mixed in with a few restaurants serving Western cuisine.

To stock up on food after a long day of surfing, sitting in the sun, or scootering around the island, all which can be equally exhausting, I love grabbing some local food at Warung Flora, Nana’s Restaurant and Nugget’s Corner. If you’re looking for something more Western, but just as tasty, El Bazar Cafe & Restaurant is our top choice, though Riviera Bar & Restaurant and Warung Drifters are up there too.

Nothing beats the view from Ashtari. The cafe is located up on the hill above Kuta with panoramic views over the bay. They host a morning yoga class held on the patio and in the evening, it’s magical to sip on a drink while enjoying the sunset.

Views from Ashtari, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Views from Ashtari, Kuta, Lombok

After dark, I love going to Sunset Café, Reggae Bar, Gecko Lounge and Bar, and Surfers Bar for drinks and live music. Ask a local/fellow traveler where the hot spot is that night since there tends to be trade-offs depending on the night.

Beers at Sunset Bar, Lombok, Indonesia

Beers at Sunset Bar, Kuta, Lombok on a scooter

Safety and Travel Tips for Kuta, Lombok

While Kuta, Lombok may be a slice of paradise, one should be aware of the perils coming through some of the port entries. There are rumors of Lombok being an unfriendly, dangerous island, which is in large part due to the terrible experiences people have had with the Bangsal Harbor Mob, a very unfriendly welcoming party waiting to prey on tourists arriving from the Gilis at Bangsal Harbour.

NEVER let anyone carry your bag, even if they claim to be a taxi driver or a restaurant worker. I’ve witnessed people being driven about 100 meters and asked for $20USD for the “trip” and traveled with a girl whose bag was driven around the island and held at ransom.

Some guys will also be walking around with receipt books identical to the tickets you may have purchased on Gili. Our suggestion is to either enter through a different port or have your hotel arrange everything beforehand in order to avoid stress and confusion.

Silly times at Reggae Bar, Lombok, Indonesia

Silly times at Reggae Bar, Kuta, Lombok on a scooter

I promise, though, once you make it past the harbor, you’ll enter paradise and you won’t regret your decision! If you have been to Kuta or anywhere else in Lombok, share with us your favourite things to do, food to eat, hang out places or general advices to travelers looking to spend some fun times in Lombok.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Kuta, Lombok *

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Lombok: Beaches, Surf and Diving that Rival Bali’s
Trekking Mount Rinjani, Lombok

3 weeks itinerary for Islands of Indonesia

Q: I’m writing you since I’m planning to go on a trip to Indonesia in July/ August.

I might have about 3 weeks to travel. Since I want to make most of my trip, I would love to visit a couple of islands of Indonesia.

Your homepage is already very helpful! But I just wanted to ask whether you could recommend e specific route in Indonesia which involves a couple of destinations and islands (e.g. Sumatra, Bali, Lombok,…)? Can you recommend any route for three weeks?

Thank you so much for your help!

– Simone

For 3 weeks you may well cover a good number of islands in Indonesia, but do bear in mind quite a number of flying is needed as Indonesia is spread out far and wide. Try this recommendation of ours for the highlights of islands of Indonesia from Bali, Lombok and Gili Islands to Flores and Nusa Tenggara:

For first 10 days –
Fly into Bali and spend a week exploring Bali and Lombok – combining our 4 days itinerary in Bali with 3 days of Lombok and then another 3 days for Gili Islands.

Next 10 days –
Make way to Flores via boat from either Lombok or one of the Gili Islands or fly from Bali to Maumere and explore Flores, making way towards Labuhanbajo through Kelimutu and Komodo Island.

After that you may find flights out of Flores to either Bali again or Jakarta and then leave Indonesia from there.

If you want to explore Sumatra or Sulawesi I would suggest them as another separate trip as it is on other parts of Indonesia and would definitely require more time to explore. Have a great trip!

Lombok : Beaches, Surf and Diving that Rival Bali’s

In recent years, Lombok is getting more press and recognition as a top travel place, where many people are touting it as the next Bali or the alternative to Bali or the Bali before the commercialization. Though Lombok itself may not appreciate such references but it cannot be helped as it is located right next to the famous Bali that needs no more introduction in the world traveling scene.

That said, Lombok had actually been famous in the circles of independent travelers for many years. Everybody knows this so called best kept secret which is not much of a secret anymore. this is because Lombok has lots to offer from beaches to diving spots to surfing and even a volcanic mountain, Mount Rinjani that is famous for hikers and trekkers.

Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

The indigenous Sasak takes up 90% of Lombok population and are Muslims with their own culture and language. The name Lombok is actually derived it which literally means straight (ahead). But more tourists said that the name actually means chili as it means so in Bahasa Indonesian. Nevertheless, both holds some form of meaning and relation to this island.

Where is it

Located between Bali (east of) and Sumbawa (west of), Lombok is the best of the both worlds.

Travel Map of Lombok, Indonesia

Travel Map of Lombok, Indonesia

Why go

Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia

Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia

Relatively still unspoiled in comparison to its neighbor Bali, Lombok boasts many natural tourist attractions like beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes and mountains and crystal blue sea.

Besides the local culture from the indigenous Sasak is very much still alive and the way it from old times while the businesses around is still very much run by the local people.

Come here for the famous tourist attractions in Lombok like the three Gili Islands that so many travelers talked about, the magnificent hike up Mount Rinjani, surfer’s paradise at Kuta beach, and beautiful beaches at Senggigi’s long stretch of sweeping bays.

When is the best time to go

Most of the time is a good time to go to Lombok, being like the rest of the Indonesian weather and climate, it is dry and hot with then some rain at certain times of the year.

The best time to go to Lombok would be the dry season if you want to fully enjoy every moment and that is June – February. Though peak season will see many tourists especially during July/August or December/January.

Also, come here during February or March, to catch a glimpse of the first nyale (wormlike fish) at the huge fishing festival. The indigenous Sasak people of Lombok will commemorate a mythical princess who had drown in these waters to escape a politically arranged marriage. This festival is done the same time with the season of these wormlike fish, where they are caught and eaten roasted in banana leaves with much enthusiasm.

Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

What to see

Mawun Beach Lombok – this quiet and beautiful beach is one of the favourites of independent travelers as there are fewer people here while the waters are beautiful and the sand white and soft. This is a kind of protected cove that is ideal for swimming as the coral/rocks are far out. Though be careful as the place is quiet, there are reported thefts around when things are left unattended.

Sendang Gile Waterfall, Lombok, Indonesia

Sendang Gile Waterfall, Lombok, Indonesia

Sendang Gila Waterfall (or Sindang gila), which means slightly crazy waterfalls. If to go with its namesake, it is crazily beautiful with tall and looming waterfalls amidst the jungle backdrop. Unfortunately though the place is now well known thus tourist touts haunt this place.

Air Terjun Tiu Kelep (waterfalls) is your next best choice if you want a less touristy alternative. This waterfall is another 1-hour walk in and it is advised to get a local guide to show you the way as the path could be tricky. Here you will have a deep pool to swim in or for the adventurous to jump off the rocks or use a tunnel with the concrete shoot as a water slide.

Sukarare – for those who are interested in local arts and handicraft, here you can find a weaving village in Desa Sukarana (village). The things here are cheaper in compared to shops in Senggigi.

What to do

Diving – Lombok is one of the best diving sites in Indonesia, having features such as drop-offs, plateaus and slopes among fascinating corals and diverse marine lives. You may find Hammerhead sharks here and other wild marine life.

Diving Lombok, Indonesia

Diving Lombok, Indonesia

Surfing – also another top with being one of the best place to surf in Indonesia, Kuta beach is known as the surfer’s paradise. One of the famous secret yet not so secret anymore surf place is The Desert Point. There are also good surf breaks here in surf spots like Mawi, Mawun and Point X along the southern coast of Lombok.

Surf Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Surf Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Trekking Mount Rinjani – the second highest volcano in Indonesia after Mount Kerinci in Sumatra, is one of the most popular volcano trekking in Indonesia. This is because it offers amazing adventurous hike that promises breathtaking view at the peak. The demanding trek that requires two days to conquer the mountain will make it all worthwhile when greeted by the view at the summit.

What and where to eat

Nasi Campur, Lombok, Indonesia

Nasi Campur, Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok work holds similarity to the word chili, and what more than to pay homage to its name and give yourself a taste of it. Be careful you might get burn but it is worth it as it comes in a form of sambal that unsurprisingly the locals know well to make it dangerously delicious. Sambal is a spicy condiment that you may dip with most of your local Indonesian food or it may be also cooked into some dishes already like curry or grilled meat.

Best local dish is ayam taliwang, which is chicken coated with rich red sauce of galangal, turmeric and tomato, and it can be hot or not depdening on where you get it. Generally inexpensive food to eat here is the mixed rice (nasi campur) where you can choose a variety of dishes of meat and vegetables to go with your rice. Sambal would be your universal condiment of choice here.

Where to stay

At Lombok, you best best for good accommodations are at Senggigi beach. There are many choices for budget or backpackers here. Though there are many travelers who would go to Gili Islands as a place to stay instead. Kuta beach can also be a choice where it is more serene and back to traditional village environment.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Lombok *

How to get there

Lombok has its own international airport (Bandara Internasional Lombok), Indonesia domestic airlines fly from places like Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan. International flights are limited to Singapore by Silk Air and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (with a stop at Surabaya) by Garuda Airlines and Air Asia. There are seasonal charter by Nordwind Airlines to/fro Russia. Take note of departure tax of around 25,000 Rp for domestic and 100,000 Rp for international. Check here for visa requirements to Indonesia.

From the airport to the center of Lombok, you may take the airport bus that serve routes to Mataram or Senggigi. Else you can always opt for taxi, though be careful and look for genuine ones or metered taxi.

Long boats at Lombok, Indonesia

Long boats at Lombok, Indonesia

By Boat
You can take ferries from Bali to Lombok, which departs every hour and take about 4-5 hours at the cost of around 36,000 Rp. There are also fast boat options from Bali to Gili Islands in Lombok.

There are also ferries that connect Poto Tano in Sumbawa to Labuhan in Lombok. Perama tour is the largest orpeator in this where it also serves from Bali.

How to get around

Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Bemo – the usual popular land transport for Indonesia, a sort of minivan that normally covers short distances in a place. Here you can go from Ampenan to Senggigi for a bout 5,000 Rp per person. Again take care of your belongings as you use this crowded public transport.

Car – you may hired the usual Bluebird taxi or Express taxi to go around Lombok on ad hoc or you can rent a car which cost from range of 150,00 Rp to 450,000 Rp depending on type. It would be best to also hire a driver as driving here is quite challenging with ambigous roads system.

Motorbike – you may also rent motorbike from various places costing around 50,00 Rp, do take great care when riding around as the roads in Lombok is not well maintained while the motorists can be quite notorious sometimes. You may also hire ojek (motorbike taxi) as you go.

Horse cart – may seem like a novelty but it is quite common here for short distances. It is known as cidomo. Just agreed on a price before climbing up.

Boat – you may hire boats to connect from Lombok and various islands. Traditional fishing boats known as perahu can be chartered or you can talk to the owners directly.

Where to go nearby

Gili Islands – just off the coast of Lombok and not too far west from Bali, these islands are the best bet to get your ultimate remote islands exprience.

Bali – this famous next door island has actually many to offer. Check out our Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali.

Uluwatu Temple at Bali, Indonesia

Uluwatu Temple at Bali, Indonesia

Flores – Visit Flores for the almost untouched island, where you can trek to see the Tri-colored lakes in Kelimutu, Komodo Dragon, swim in calm pool with waterfall backdrop, enjoy your meal and mingling with locals amidst view of lush paddy fields and smoking volcanic mountain. You can even dive or snorkel off various amazing dive sites.

Sumbawa islands – an island truly off the beaten track to further challenge Lombok in this arena. It is also known as one of the best places to surf in Indonesia and even the world. The place may be lacking in facilities but it made up in natural beauties.

Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

Travel Tips

Many travelers gave advice to be especially careful of thefts in Lombok. Keep your things well attended and lock your luggage, there are even thefts at the beaches

For women and solo travelers, try not to go to quiet places in the dark.

Language can be tough here as most people speak only Sasak instead of the usual Bahasa Indonesian or what more English.

Also, dress appropriately to respect the custom, especially when visiting holy places, but generally as well as revealing clothes are not recommended. The tip is to carry a sarong or a shawl around all the time so that you can wrap on over swimwear or whenever needed.

Also note that there are no alcohol serve on this island. There are also reported cases of dengue fever and malaria.

Sasak People Wedding, Lombok, Indonesia

Sasak People Wedding, Lombok, Indonesia

In short, come to Lombok for the beautiful beaches, the powerful waves for surfing, the untouched sea for diving, magnificent waterfalls and unchanged culture and people under the wonderful weather of sun and breeze.

Photo credits from top: Tanti Ruwani, Burmesedays, yeowatzup, Trekking Rinjani, Jeda Villa Bali, Mike Slagter, Wiendietry Rusli, NeilsPhotography, Madeleine Holland, Jos Dielis melburnian and Tanti Ruwani

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Related Articles:
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Bali

Best way to get from Bali to Gili Islands

Can you suggest the best way to get from Bali to Gili Islands, in terms of fastest way and also the cheapest? Thank you for your suggestions.
– Hamilton

From Bali to Gili Islands, you may take a fast boat such as Gili Cat or Blue water Safari (http://www.bwsbali.com/) from Padang Bai to Gili Islands.

Or you can also fly from Bali to Gili Islands which many travelers say it is worth it to save time and sometimes it can be cheaper than the boat. Airlines that fly this route is Merpati, Indonesia Air Transport and Trigana.