Kuta, Lombok is one of Indonesia’s most popular destinations, here is our three day experience!
This part of our trip has been an unexpected whirlwind. Originally, we believed that we would spend two weeks in Bali before finding our way to New Zealand. How quickly things change in this part of the world. With the impending volcano ready to erupt on Mount Agung, we decided Bali was not in the cards for us. With all of this being said, an island was still the focus of our rapid search before we left the United States. Enter Lombok, Indonesia.
For many people, visiting an island usually means all inclusive resort, sit on the beach, always have a drink in hand, and never leave your resort the entire time. In Kuta, Lombok, you can absolutely do all of those things, however, that is not really how we enjoy visiting new places. The focus of our time in Kuta was always going to be the beach and we made sure of it.
Going through all of the travel sites to find a place to stay was intimidating. Where do we stay? What beach do we want to be close to? We ended up booking Shu Villa for two nights and it was a great way to start our trip. Our flight was incredibly delayed from Yogyakarta so we did not land until after midnight.
Quick Tangent on flights within Indonesia:
The flight delays in Indonesia are NO JOKE. We sat in the airport for four hours with no updates except the knowledge that our 4:30 flight was now leaving at 7:00. That time comes and goes and still nothing. There is an announcement to go to our gate, we’re super excited that we’re finally leaving and then…they offer us free chicken. Uh oh. We eventually leave around 10:00. Just a miserable experience on Lion Air. Highly suggest avoiding that airline if at all possible.
Needless to say, we were all thrown off, irritated, and just flat out angry. It was an incredibly gracious feeling to walk into our nice private villa with a king sized bed as soon as we got to Shu Villa. It set us up for a better mindset going forward with a good night’s sleep.
Exploring Kuta is something most people do by scooter, which neither one of us were really comfortable with. We know this seems silly if everyone is doing it, but we made a mantra before going on this trip “if we are uncomfortable, we won’t do it” and that’s how we felt with the scooters. Scooter or not, we walked down to Kuta beach and loved seeing all of the coffee shops and little restaurants, it is without a doubt a quintessential surfer town.
Seeing the water for the first time was even more breathtaking than we ever imagined. That turquoise water, white sand–actually coral here–and empty beach feel were just perfect. This beach was ours, so we put our feet up, bartered for a freshly cut coconut, and enjoyed the sun for the day.
After an early bedtime–jet lag is real when traveling over twenty hours away–we woke up early and hired a driver to help us explore the even more beautiful beaches of the Kuta region. Knowing we had the driver, we made this day as full of beaches as possible. We explored Selong Belanak, Mawun Beach, and Tanjung Aan.
Selong Belanak was a paradise for anyone who wants to learn how to surf. There are instructors everywhere asking if they can help and give you a one day lesson. The beach itself was incredible in its own right, while busy–even in the offseason–it was still easy to get a chair or find an open spot on the beach. We also were lucky enough to witness cows crossing the beach to get to their farm! Such a cool and a “I have never seen that before” experience. This was the most hotels and restaurants we saw–still only three or four– so if you wanted an all inclusive, this would be the place to find it.
Mawun Beach was very unique. It may be the prettiest beach we have ever seen, trees providing shade, that special color of the water, and a private feel on a public peach. In addition, if you were lucky enough–and seemingly everyone we saw was–there are adorable little children trying to sell you everything under the sun for what they were calling “a good price!”. However, this was a very dirty beach. It is a theme throughout Indonesia that garbage waste is a constant problem, and this beach emphasized that. Cans, bottles, and random other plastic could be found all over the beach (including floating in the water) and it ruined the experience for us.
Tanjung Aan was the true local beach that we visited while in Kuta. Here, we were able to see a massive group of school children playing in the water and an intense beach soccer game that seemed to have no field or goal. This beach was the cleanest, as it felt everyone took pride in making sure it stayed that way. This was epitomized by the local shop owner raking the sand next to his store. This beach had it all, right? Wrong. The water here was the worst out of everywhere we visited, it was rocky and had grass everywhere in the water. Bummer.
After our beach filled day, we made our way to Sunset Point–benefit of going to Tanjung Aan to finish the day. The hike up was not too difficult and we were able to get a good rock to sit on and reflect on our day before a gorgeous sunset.
Kuta is a must-stop when visiting Lombok, it gives you the surfer town vibes while also letting you explore the nearby beaches via car or scooter. Something that cannot be understated, all locals are so excited that you are visiting their island, and even though they may try to be selling you something, they are leaving you with a big smile as they walk away. Until next time!
The Breakdown of our time in Kuta, Lombok
Where we Stayed:
Yuli’s Guesthouse– Very friendly and welcoming vibe throughout the grounds. A trust system when purchasing drinks, but has a hostel feel in that everyone on the grounds seems to be friends. Yuli even comes and eats breakfast with guests every morning. A great budget place to stay while in Kuta.
Shu Villa– Very comfortable. Only 4 villas on the grounds, the staff was incredibly helpful with any request that we had. Breakfast was pretty good. Good place to stay if you want to be a little bit more private than Yuli’s.
What we Ate:
Nearly everywhere we stayed offered us breakfast so we stuck to the budget for that, it was pretty typical, eggs, pancakes, and fruit. Nothing special, but free breakfast is nothing to ever get too worried about.
Ashtari Lodge–Mountain views–not sunset–were incredible, food was mediocre even with the fresh fish.
Full Moon Cafe— Great beach vibes at this place–also a homestay underneath. Food was ok but it is a great place to stop in after the beach and grab a beer and a quick bite to eat.
Where we Went:
Tanjung Aan–Easily the most local of the beaches that we visited, there were very few tourists here. A big beach so a great place to sit and hang out but not the best beach for swimming as the water is very rocky and has lots of sea grass.
Selong Belanak– Surfers paradise, a gorgeous beach with great waves for beginners. We loved swimming here as the water was clean and incredibly shallow. Loved this one.
Mawun Beach–The most gorgeous out of all of the beaches. The water has that special are you real turquoise color to it that leaves you speechless. However, be warned, you will be hassled by adorable children to buy bracelets, pineapples, and coconuts here and they are very persistent. Also, trash is a major problem in Indonesia and the beaches are not a place to get away from it, very dirty on the sand.
Kuta Beach– Quiet beach, a good place to just hang with decent little beach shacks for food and drink. Also has some garbage problems like Mawun but not quite as bad. We were told by the locals, although never verified ourselves, that the monkeys living in the nearby hill also come hang on the beach in the afternoon.
Tips for Kuta, Lombok:
- If you can swing it, hire a driver, it is a much easier way to get around the island and we did it to explore 3 beaches in one day–we were not comfortable driving a scooter ourselves.
- Don’t get too caught up on food. It is very touristy on Kuta so you are not going to get great Indonesian food. The fish is fresh but nothing was overwhelming. However, pineapples were a constant with nearly every meal which certainly helped their cause.
- Bottled water is your friend. Don’t be silly and drink tap water and get sick. Stick to the bottles.
- Haggle! Alicia loves this, but if there is not a listed price (or even sometimes when there is), be prepared to haggle for nearly everything.
Want to know what we packed for this and the rest of our 5 months abroad? Check out our complete packing list here, or, if you’re going on a shorter trip, download our two week carry on packing checklist.