Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kuta (Kute) Lombok Updated

Last visited early September 2011

Shot 1 - Kuta Bay from the killer hill to the west. Good surfing on the fringing reefs of this and neighbouring bays of south Lombok (Image Panoramio-Lucas Wandeler)

2 On my revisit in Sept 2011 I took a camera and decided to zoom in a bit from the same vantage point as Lucas' shot. Kuta village is largely spread between the transmission towers.

Don’t confuse Kuta-Lombok with Kuta-Bali. The latter is crowded, noisy, the beach not great. Kuta-Lombok is uncrowded, laid back and beaches to the immediate east and west have beautiful white sand and some of the bluest water I’ve seen.

The Kuta area of south Lombok with places mentioned on this page - modified Google Earth image.

Kuta-Lombok is a fairly small village situated on a lovely bay in the south of the island. It is a location for surfers and travellers, plus a fishing/agriculture service town.
For the best selection of accommodation head for the the beach road running out of town-central to the east. Here you have a a good collection of budget accommodation places and two mid-rangers.
Back in town central there are quite a few other places to stay. As is the case for the road heading west out of town.
There is no shortage of restaurants, bars, bike hire joints, surf board hire/repairs/lessons, clothing stalls etc. Plus 2 dive outfits.
Novotel Coralia Lombok, (now called Novotel Lombok) is on its own beach about 2km east of town.
Mimpimanis Homestay is an oft-praised budget/flash-packer place, on the main road as it descends into town. On this latest 2011 trip I noticed a few similar homestays in this vicinity and further out of town.

3 The biggest change I noticed from my previous 2004 visit was the spread of development eastwards along the beach road out of town. This section is at least 400m east of where development stopped previously. Besides accommodation, beach road has a mixture of warungs/restaurants, a few bars, places selling beachwear/leisure-wear, surf repair shops, motorcycle hire and repair etc. I read recently on Lombok Lovers forum that most of the places on the sea side (right hand of pic here) do not have development approval and will be cleared by the local authority. This applies equally to the older section closer to town.

The other big change was the amount of real estate activity. Signs abound in town and surrounding areas re Land For Sale. Apparently the imminent opening of the new international airport near Kuta (supposedly in Oct 2011) has sparked a real-estate boom. A local told me westerners, particulary Aussies, have been the big buyers.

4 These new houses were under construction in early Sept 2011 on the western headland of Kuta's huge bay about 200m in from the beach. A local restaurant owner told me they were locals' houses - financed by these people selling their land/businesses in town to foreign and Indo investors.
Land in foreground is used for public grazing. Herdsmen drive their goats/cattle/water buffalo along the road from all around to this area. Did you know water buffalo can have good traffic sense?

5 Tourism doesn't rule. A surfing-tourist village with a public grazing area virtually in the middle of town. The previous shot was on the western exit of town but this one is town-central.

Kuta Bay. Town centre is concentrated around the Mataram road cross road and the discontinuous square below it. Ribbbon development spreads along the roads going north, east and west. I forgot to add a scale - it is 1.75km from picture symbol 4 to 3, meaning the reef is over 1200m off the sand from 6 - you can see why surfers tend to hire a boat.


Kuta town beach
6 Ironically, the beach in the town bay is probably the least attractive in the area, tending to suffer from a fair bit of weed washed onto the sand and water not as deep at low tide compared to Marwun and Tanjung A'an a few km each side. Nevertheless people can find themselves some pretty nice stretches of sand and clear water in the central sections close to camera.
Since I first published this updated page, Gemma from Mimpimanis Homestay gave me this good info: "Full Moon cafe is my recommendation (at Kuta) for a warung on the beach with sun beds and nice relaxed areas to sit as well as good food".

East of Kuta village

Putri Nyale
The countryside is pretty flat east of Kuta (at least along the road - there are some impressive hills and cliffs along some sections of the coast). The road is not too bad - heavily patched tarmac with no wash-aways in Sept 2011.
About 2km out of Kuta village is a big roundabout. If you take a right here along an excellent road you will soon come to the rather nice Novotel Lombok on its own section of beach.

7 Novotel Lombok - a pretty nice looking high-end place (image Panoramio-famdestroy)

8 There was a nice hill just south of the Novotel so I squeezed off a shot or three. Note the shallow low-tide water here - but this can be a bonus for people who enjoy fossicking.

9 This is taken from Seger a little further east. You can see part of the Novotel far right of image. The hill from which the previous shot was taken is the smaller one dead-centre of image. Kuta bay can be seen background-left of image.

Seger and Aan (Serenting) Beaches
Back on the main road, travel less than a km east of the Novotel access roundabout and take the turn signposted Seger. At first the road is sealed and very good thru a section which was already subdivided back in 2004 in anticipation of the new airport (but no property development here on my 2011 return) - closer to the beaches it turns into unsealed tracks which are still okay for motorcyles and cars.
You need to bear right (see Google image below) for Seger - straight ahead will get you to what the surfers call Aan beach (not to be confused with the delightful Tanjun A'an just to the east). Since first publishing this update I got a message from Gemma at Mimpimanus Homestay saying the locals call Aan Serenting Beach.

10 Seger is a surfers' beach, book-ended by hills which are perfect for checking the swell and firing off a few pics. There's a collection of tourist trinket sellers and warungs behind the beach, including Cafe Seger which is reported to have some of the best seafood in the area. Most surfers will not get over-excited by seafood - but are sure to give the Bintangs a workout after a session. Unlike much of the coast, the reef is at only 150m off the beach and the breaks here are mainly right-handers, not for the inexperienced.

Interestingly Seger is also the site for the annual sea-worm festival which attracts around 100,000 people each February. Might be a time to give Kuta a miss if you aren't into culture and worm-like fish.

11 The previous shot was taken from the hill foreground-centre. This pic is facing west on the hill at the opposite end of Seger - the corner of Pantai Seger can be seen bottom left. The Novotel is behind/right of the central hill. Kuta is far background left.

12 Turn 180 degrees from the previous shot and you get an overview of Aan (Serenting) beach to the east. For people wanting a completey deserted beach this may be the one (no warungs or touristy places - a couple of locals' houses at the far end) although the sand is not as white or the water at low tide as deep as Tanjung A'an next east. The fringing reef here measures 600m offshore on Google Earth so there is plenty of lagoon to explore.
Gemma from Mimpimanis Homestay told me: "Serenting Beach and is my favourite beach due to the fact there are no waves so at high tide I can swim safely with (son) Martin and at low tide we like to collect shells and starfish and crabs (we let the live animals go before we leave)."
I saw this beach labelled Aan on a map, hence the mis-labelling below.

Putri Nyale (Novotel), Seger and Aan (Serenting) beaches.
Pic symbols now show camera position.

Scale - Aan beach is 1.5km long.
It's very time consuming for me to change these maps so I haven't replaced the
Aan label with the local name Serenting.

Tanjung A'an
About 5km east of Kuta village the road comes very close to the coast at Tanjung A'an. This is one of the Kuta area's 2 top beaches (the other being Mawun to the west) - a 2.5km long double crescent of Bounty ad. type white sand and lovely water deep at all tides.
Gemma says: "At Tanjung Aan the twin bays one is Tanjung and the other Aan. I always forget which is which."

13 This rock outcrop divides the twin crescents of Tanjung A'an (image Panoramio - famdestroy)
14 If you take the first short access track from the Kuta end you will come to this nice little beach warung, newish Sama Sama. Only one other couple here (and on the whole beach from what I could see) when Lady Tezza and I called in for a drink about 11am in early Sept 2011. Note that even though this is towards the eastern end of the beach there is still a good 400m to the nearest headland.
UPDATE LATE SEPT 2011. Less than 3 weeks after visiting Sama Sama I got a message saying Sama Sama has been pulled down! Even though, unlike a lot of beach places, it was legal it looks like locals didn't like the new opposition. I'll make a point of avoiding other places at this beach on future trips.

15 This is shot from the opposite far western end of Tanjung A'an and gives some idea of the sweep of the beach - although my camera's field of vision could not capture the eastern-most 20% shown in the previous shot. There is an access track here but no settlement. The water tends to be very sheltered from the prevailing south-easterly trades of dry season although the sand is not as nice as further east.
The rock-outcrop which divides the beach can be seen right of image - there is a big warung and a collection of traders' stall here. I stopped my bicycle in that area back in 2004 and was inundated by hawkers. Their prices were amazingly low.


16 The coast road ends at quite a big inlet about 7km east of Kuta (although it is possible to head further east on a branch road which initially loops inland). At this inlet you enter the village of Gerupuk - known for seaweed farming, fishing and surfing. The town beach here is nothing to get excited about, but the surfing is, with 5 different nearby breaks in the best conditions. Interestingly although the breaks must be accessed by boat some are suitable for inexperienced surfers and there is a surf shop in town offering lessons for beginners. There are a few places for surfers to stay in the village and if you are coming in from Kuta to surf there is a small entrance fee to the village although they waived it when I told them I wanted to take a few pix.

Tanjung A'an and Gerupuk. Even though the main road is flat there are some awesome hills along the coast between the two locations with great views. Tracks show where surfer dudes have ridden to check the breaks - I had Lady T on the back and she (rightfully) doesn't have a lot of faith in my motorcycling skills so we stuck to the flat paved areas. Scale - 2.3 km between the two yellow placemarks.

West of Kuta

Immediately west of Kuta town is a killer hill. I challenge anyone to bicycle this hill non-stop - I tried in 2004. There are several great viewpoints back over Kuta’s lovely bay part way up and from the summit - see the opening two shots. At the summit about 2km out of Kuta is Ashtari, a vegetarian restaurant with great views. Past the summit the road drops into a really nice valley with intensively farmed areas.
In 2004 the road was in pretty good conditions but had sadly deteriorated by 2011. There were frequent wash-away sections - those on the steep upgrades making motorcycle riding fairly difficult for novices. Not that this stopped the dozens of surfers heading for the western breaks - they figure a bit of rough road is nothing compared to a 5m barrel breaking into 30cm of water over the reef at Desert Point or Mawi.


17 About 7km west of Kuta you will see a signposted turnoff to Mawun (not Mawi). Follow the side road about 800m to this section of Mawun's lovely 1400m crescent of sand - here about 400m from the western end - that's the eastern end you are looking at. A small entrance fee gets you into a warung area with sunlounges and some tree-shaded sand areas. Despite the rough road and greater distance from Kuta this seemed much more popular than Tanjung A'an, with at least a half dozen couples when I called in.

18 Mawun's bay from near the summit of the hill out of Kuta. It's a good 3-4 km from this point to the beach access road. The western end of the beach can be seen behind the hill at far right; note the height of the headland behind - if you use the horizon rule (anything that is higher than the horizon from your viewpoint is higher than you) it is around twice as high as the camera position. The eastern headland is even higher.

Oblique Google Earth image from the north to bring out the height of that eastern headland. Because of the orientation, east and Kuta village are to the left in this shot.

Another 7km west you are approaching Mawi - actually back in 2004 it was not such a good idea to approach this without a guide from Kuta. Mawi had been known for locals throwing up roadblocks and relieving western tourists on motorcycles of their valuables while waving machettes around! Back in 04 I turned my bicycle aroound well before Mawi - I aint real tough around machettes. Some Brits staying in the same bungalow place as me then had most of their money and TCs + cameras etc stolen when they went swimming at Mawi.
However according to Made who drove Lady T and me down from Bangsal, things have improved markedly - there is now a small entrance fee to the beach which should include some security of your property. Although vigilance of your stuff when swimming is always a good idea - anywhere. Certainly the number of surfers and tourists heading along this road when I took it latest trip suggests they are not having the same problems as back in the day. I again didn't make Mawi latest trip - lack of time beat me.

Oblique Google Earth image of Mawi from due south - Kuta village is now to the right. This place sure looks nice.

There are some very good surfing spots along here and further west - access can be difficult to find so many surfers take a local guide. There are motorbikes with sidewinder board racks for hire in Kuta and quite a few surfers were travelling 4 or 5 up in vans and SUVs.

19 Surfer dude heads back into Kuta village from the west. Bikes with or without sidewinder board racks were around 50k rupiah per day in Sept 2011 - about $us6

Actaully one the best way to surf this coast is off the live-aboard surfing boats out of Benoa-Bali bound for the breaks of Sumbawa.

Kuta has dozens of places to stay, so I'll leave the selection to your perusal of the guidebooks. However if you are after a pool you can find one at Matahari (budget/flashpacker - west road out of town very close to town-central), Surfers' Inn (budget/flashpacker - eastern beach road, close to town), Segara Anek (budget/flashpacker just a bit further east on the beach road), Kuta Indah (lower midrange - western road out of town, edge of town), Tastura (3 star - eastern beach road fairly close to town) and Novotel Lombok (4 star - 2km east of town).

I can comment on the two places I've stayed at:
In 2004 it was Anda Bungalows about 250m along the east beach road. This place was okay with pretty good bungalows and reasonable food. However I have reservations - that same English couple robbed at Mawi has their Anda bungalow broken into the very next night and the rest of their valuables taken! This is despite the fact they shifted to another room after the beach-thief got their room key with their other stuff.
Something suss here - a few years later I read a post from a guy staying at the same Anda Bungalows who also got broken into. For various reasons he thought it an inside job. And in Dec07 I read another report on a surfing website about thefts from Anda! Okay, it's now 4 years later and things can change - but I reckon give them a big miss, there are a heap of budget joints in town including just down the road a bit - a really nice cheapy, Segara Anek with a great restaurant, icy-cold beer and fruitshakes, internet and they are also the Perama agent. I also understand they have a small pool these days.

Please don't think Kuta Lombok is a den of thieves - the town had the friendliest, no bullshit locals I struck in a 9 stop tour of Bali and Lombok in August/Sept 2011.

On that latest trip I had Lady Tezza with me and so we went upmarket a bit and stayed in the lower-midrange Kuta Indah Hotel at the west end of town. We picked the cheaper hotel wing rooms - about 350k with aircon, refrig and TV and a basic but adequate coffee/tea, toast, eggs and fruit breakfast. Plus a fabulous balcony view of the comings and goings on the public grazing land across the road. Lady T is a bit of an animal lover - I'm a jogger/cyclist and don't like animals all that much but I found the activity fascinating.
Our room was a bit tired but pretty comfy - the hotel also has more expensive garden rooms surrounding the pool which looked in better condition.
Restaurant prices were maybe 10-20% higher than nearby budget places and the one dinner I had there was very nice - the restaurant did not charge guests the add-on govt+service taxes that passers-by seemed to be hit with.
Clientele was about 70% surfer dudes and their girls/family, 35% travellers/tourists, 5% Indos. The place seemed to be running about 30% of capacity as was the whole town - the European and US financial crises seem to be impacting tourism in Indo.

20 The pool at Kuta Indah is pretty nice. I thought it would be frequented daytime by surfer-babe bikini sweeties while their men went off to rip at some hell-hole. Not so. Darn!

21 About 150m closer to town from Kuta Indah is a budget restaurant - called Sunset from memory - with nice food, friendly service and very low prices. A good spot to check the public grazing land beween the road and the beach (every now and then a goat or water buffalo would make a break for freedom [or more likely better pastures - out hotel's garden was a favoured area]) plus the passing parade of surfer dudes and 12 year old schoolkids and 5 -member families* on motorcycles.
* 5 members on one motorcycle.
There are another 4 or 5 budget restaurants within the next 250m closer to town. Dwiki's on the opposite side of the road was a good one at our time of visit.

22 Bodyboarding the reef - Kuta Bay (image Panoramio - marinou)

The Sasak Traditional Villages

Sade and Rambitan are two traditional Sasak villages on the main road from the north within 10km of Kuta village. Both are open to tourist visits and and locals will take people on guided displays of traditional architecture and communal lifestyle for a small fee.

Distinctive Sasak buildings at Rambitan. I'm not into culture so did not visit - hence I had to pinch this pic from Rinjani Trekking Club's website.

Getting to Kuta

Selaprarang Airport at Mataram gets international flights from Singapore and KL.
It also has frequent flights from Bali, less frequent from Java, plus a few flights from islands further east. Check websites for Garuda, Lion Air, Merpati, Trans Nusa, Batavia Air. International flights come from Singapore and KL - Silk Air, Garuda, Merpati.
A taxi from the airport taxi counter should be around 225-250k in 2011 prices. Made from Mimpimanis Homestay quoted 250k at that time. He will do pick-ups and deliveries plus daytrips regardless of where you are staying in Kuta.

New Airport
A new Bandaraya International Airport in south Lombok is due to open in October 2011. From this time the old Mataram airport reportedly will close. The new airport is good news to Kuta because it is only 15 minutes away. Not so good for Mataram (maybe one hour although a very nice 4 lane road is under construction so it may be quicker) or Bangsal for the Gilis (90 minutes).
Given the distance and time I'm thinking a taxi to Kuta should be 100k or less in 2011 terms. Made is thinking his price will be around 100k when it opens.

23 The new airport buildings seemed pretty complete when we passed by in early Sept 2011

Lembar is the closest port to Kuta for boats from Bali. This is where the big vehicle/passenger ferries from Padangbai in east Bali (36k in Sept 2011) land roughly hourly. There is also a fast boat from Padangbai, but I think only once per day.
Getting a taxi from Lembar to Kuta is a bit of a trick because the local transport mafia will not allow them into the port area. If you walk outside you should be able to get one for around 225-250k.
It's not a bad idea to have some one organised to pick you up if arriving in Lembar - apparently the transport mafia is pretty hectic and will try to load your bags into one of their vehicles before negotiating a price, which turns out to be outrageous*. Made from Mimpimanis Homestay arranged for his mate to take Lady T and me to Lembar for 250k in Sept 2011.
Perama will run a shuttle-bus for 2 or more people from Lembar - it is possible to buy a combined shuttle-slow ferry ticket from many places in Bali to Kuta from this outfit.
* and don't use a porter from boat to vehicle or reverse without prior price negotiation. We saw one Euro guy hit with a 50k fee for a few minutes work. 10k would have been too much.

Labuhan Lombok on the north-east coast is the port for the big ferries from Sumbawa. I'm not sure of taxi prices but Made told me he charges 400k for this long route.

Bangsal is the mainland arrival point from the Gilis. Once again Perama will run a shuttle for two or more, although you usually have to change shuttles in Mataram and there can be some standing around there and in Bangsal.
Taxis are hard to come by in Bangsal - the transport mafia here tend to be bastards too.
Made was waiting for us when we hopped off the boat and charged 350k for the trip to Kuta - normally 90 minutes give or take but public holiday traffic made it more like 2.5 hours for us which I reckoned was worth a bonus.

24 Made (left) and his one of his drivers waiting in the carpark at Kuta Indah from where we were taken across to Lembar for the ferry back to Bali. Made and associates speak good English and are careful drivers. The service does pick-ups and deliveries and runs daytrips.
Email info@mimpimanis.com or call Made direct on 081 836 9950.
A bonus for guests at Made's and his English wife Gemma's Mimpimanis Homestay is a free Kuta orientation tour on arrival.

Lombok Lovers - an informative Kuta based Lombok forum.

Local kids prepare mini-outrigger on the beach at Kuta. Jeez, I hope they're going fishing, not surfing the reef.



If you are visiting Kuta perhaps you will be interested in:






If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.


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Feryhendrawan said...

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Marco Feliciano said...

hi, im traveling to lombok in a few weeks. i was wondering- when exploring the south coast of lombok is it easier in a car? or a motorcycle? in your post you mentioned something about dirt roads that surfers took to get a view of the surf. i wanted to ask you.- These roads cant be done in a car i presume? Or can they? I guess what Im asking is, what is the best mode of transportation in terms of getting around the best spots in lombok. Basically I just want to see as much of the island as i can. Secondly, I wanted to ask- besides the Full Moon Cafe that you mentioned- do you know of any other layed back lounges around the south lombok area? thank you for you help in advance. Regards

Anonymous said...

very nice article

eksotisme pulau bali dalam lensa vga...hehe