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The other Kuta, Lombok

Kuta Lombok's main street

“No hot chocolate?!” The middle-aged French tourist snapped. “But what about the cheeldren?!” The young man behind the breakfast counter mumbled and shook his head apologetically. I watched as the Frenchman’s face contorted and scowled, breaking the trail of angry questions with a final “Never?!” before storming off.

After the roughness of three days on Rinjani, the manicured, highly segregated world of Senggigi was almost a shock to the system. So too were the rude and self-important visitors who moaned and constantly barged in front at the small buffet table, as though in a great hurry to reach their slices of toast and cold meats. I couldn’t blame the hotel staff for having consistently dour faces as they served these guests. Thankfully, Senggigi was just a brief stopover – for a long-awaited hot shower and good night’s sleep – before we jumped aboard a minivan to Lombok’s less-trumpeted southern coast.

Kuta Lombok was a vision of what its Balinese cousin may have looked like in decades past. Stands of coconut palms soared over small hotels and homestays, their fronds waving in the wind, and the main road along the beach meandered between thatch-roofed warung – shacks housing small convenience stores, cafés, and shops selling beach clothes, textiles and wooden carvings.

I drank in the laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere of this surfer’s haven, where the Indian Ocean foamed and lapped against two long pepper-sand beaches. We were struck by the colour of its azure waters, which turned to shades of milky turquoise as though straight from a painter’s brush.

All in all it seemed a happy coexistence. Up and down the main strip, surfers and adventurous sun seekers mingled with the local staff, greeting each other with easy smiles and high-fives before sitting together beneath the comforting whirr of a ceiling fan. From our room we could hear the din of motorcycle engines and the muezzin’s call to buka puasa, breaking the Ramadan fast at sundown. By night the stars arrived on the scene, and Bama would point out the Southern Cross, a novelty for someone who had always lived in the Northern Hemisphere. As I stared up at the evening sky, the surf echoing softly in the distance, I couldn’t be happier to have Kuta as a base for the next three days.

Kuta's near-empty beach

Kuta’s near-empty beach

Going for a dip

Going for a dip

Bands of turquoise

Bands of turquoise

Pepper-like grains of sand, Kuta Beach

Pepper-like grains of sand, Kuta Beach

Our room and trusty scooter at Kuta Cove Hotel

Our room and trusty scooter at Kuta Cove Hotel

One of Kuta's many "warung"

One of Kuta’s many “warung”

A slow afternoon on the main strip

A slow afternoon on the main strip

The view of Kuta from a nearby hillside

The view of Kuta from a nearby hillside

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve never been to that Kuta everyone knows about. But, having seen pictures of it, this one looks far more appealing! Thanks for sharing!

    August 4, 2013
    • You’re welcome Stephen! I hope this Kuta stays just the way it is for the next few years at least…

      August 4, 2013
  2. I remember how we went there in the afternoon when the water started to ebb away. At the end of the day we saw those local fishermen who looked like walking on the water. I truly hope this Kuta won’t have to face the same fate the other Kuta did because I witnessed it with my own eyes how mass tourism has terribly changed its face. Nice pictures of the beach and the hotel James! They remind me of our recovery time after the grueling hike earlier that week. 🙂

    August 4, 2013
    • Thank you Bama, Kuta Bali is one of those places I would never, ever want to visit! So many horror stories of tourists behaving badly, traffic jams and obscene t-shirts/stickers. Kuta Lombok was truly the perfect place to unwind after Rinjani, we could easily have stayed another few days! 🙂

      August 4, 2013
  3. Such a beautiful place! Certainly a perfect escape from the bustle (and attitudes) of the more touristy Kuta. Some people can really ruin a place…but then there are others that can appreciate and capture it so beautifully! Great photos.

    August 4, 2013
    • Thank you Grace – I couldn’t recommend this Kuta any more highly, it was just so friendly, easygoing and down-to-earth! On top of that, I felt as though all the backpackers staying here were very respectful of the local culture.

      August 4, 2013
  4. I’m literally kicking myself that I never made it to this Kuta, the “good” Kuta. Oh well, I guess that means I will have to go back again. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    August 4, 2013
    • You’re welcome. 🙂 It’s amazing to think that this Kuta was just an island away from the infamous one in Bali. And from what I’ve heard, the beaches on Lombok were much better (and emptier) by comparison!

      August 5, 2013
  5. Reblogged this on TheLazyBeeBookstore and commented:
    Well written. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you! 🙂

    August 5, 2013
    • Thanks in turn for the reblog! 🙂

      August 5, 2013
  6. Thanks for sharing. Seems well worth checking out! After Lebaran hope to get out there for a weekend. 🙂

    August 5, 2013
    • It’s my pleasure – I’m glad (and just a tad envious) that you get to be on assignment in Indonesia for the next four months, I would go back in a heartbeat! Enjoy Lebaran and have fun exploring the islands when you can. 🙂

      August 5, 2013
  7. Some people need to appreciate that when you go far away, trying new things is all part of the fun!! 🙂 looovely pictures James!!

    August 5, 2013
    • Thank you, Sophie!! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more, it sort of defeats the point of travelling, doesn’t it? We were horrified that the Frenchman insisted on making a scene out of such a minor “inconvenience”.

      August 5, 2013
  8. It looks so similar to my village, near visakhapatnam, India. Thanks for reminding me of my village. I always enjoyed being their.

    August 5, 2013
    • You’re welcome, I’m happy it stirred up some fond memories.

      August 5, 2013
  9. That beach looks heavenly! What a perfect way to unwind after your demanding hike.

    August 6, 2013
    • It was gorgeous – we couldn’t resist going in for a late afternoon dip.

      August 6, 2013
  10. the sand is definitely something I have yet to step on – must feel like a thousand mini-massages on the soles, no? Or is it too coarse for a leisurely walk?

    August 6, 2013
    • The sand was very unusual, up till then I had never seen anything quite like it! Because of the zoom it looks far less comfortable than it actually was – “a thousand mini-massages” is a pretty accurate description. 🙂

      August 6, 2013
  11. When the airport was located in Mataram, thinking that not many visitor were prepared to take the long and exhaustive journey to visit this beautiful beach, I was sad. Now as the airport has been relocated and only take maybe 10 minutes to drive from the new airport to Kuta, I am worried that it is going to be devastated by massive developments like Bali’s Kuta had.

    August 30, 2013
    • You’re right, having the new airport so close is a real game-changer. I can only hope that any future developments will learn from Bali’s example… to turn Kuta Lombok into the next Nusa Dua would be a terrible mistake.

      August 31, 2013

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