You don’t have to be in Kuta, Lombok for longer than a minute to realise how starkly it contrasts Kuta, Bali, and in the best way possible. Kuta, Lombok is rustic and authentic… it is dotted with local warungs, pot holes and cows. It isn’t much more than a main road with some side streets.
The thing that makes it such a nice place though is that it is not too rustic. There are upmarket (well, sort of) restaurants serving a variety of international dishes. Perhaps what is missing is a good hang out spot with great coffee and WiFi. There are bars, and there is even a coffee bar, but none fulfil all the aforementioned requirements. But that hardly matters, and I’m sure that one will appear very soon… unfortunately development always infiltrates increasingly popular places.
Kuta is also a place of natural beauty. The beaches are post card quality – with white sand and crystal blue waters. The best part is that you may even have a beach all to yourself, because there are quite a few along the coast and not many people visiting them (yet). The village is surrounded by green forest, and there a few rice paddies in areas where the forest has been cleared. One evening Norman and I bought beer and went to sit at a vantage point on the hill that overlooks the whole of Kuta as the light was fading. It was such a simple outing but it was so special.
The surfing around Kuta is pretty good too, and Norman had good waves almost every day of our stay. He particularly liked Mawi, a break about 30 minutes from Kuta. The road to Mawi is one worth driving regardless of whether you want to go surf there or not. It is so picturesque, and provides glimpses into the locals’ lives because it seems like a road has been slapped down right through the middle of everything. So you will pass water buffalos munching grass or slowly lumbering across the road. You will see rice paddies and misty forests and streaks of blue ocean sticking out through the hills. It is magnificent.
The locals are also really friendly. One time Norman and I stopped at a family’s house and asked for coconuts. They couldn’t speak English but we pointed, and one of the boys climbed up the tree like a spider and coconuts began to drop from the sky. We negotiated a price as they weren’t used to selling the coconuts from their family palm tree, and although they wanted my sunglasses, we settled on money. Also, Norman and I encountered the friendliest group of young people who wanted to practice their English on us, take photos with us on their cellphones, and then pose for photos with our camera! They were so excited and as we drove away they were shouting, “See you tomorrow! Have a nice day! Drive safe!”
Norman and I quickly found a favourite local restaurant. It was new, and owned by a Sumatran lady. It was nasi campur, which means you can choose almost like a buffet. I ate beef rendang for lunch every day for about 5 days in a row! Other than that we went to ‘nicer’ places twice. Once was for burgers, and the other was for pizza.
We spent just over a week in Kuta in total, and spent the majority of the time staying at Adel’s Bungalows and Hostel. It isn’t actually a hostel, it is just bungalows, but it is new so I think there are plans for that in the future. There was a communal kitchen there which was a major selling point for me and one of the main reasons we chose to stay there. It was also just a nice place in general, with a rice paddy to the side and a cute garden in front. The manager claims to have been to over 75% of all the countries in the world because he used to work on a cruise ship, and the international influence on the place is so evident! Small things that most locals wouldn’t even notice, he does, and he understood hospitality as well. He was super helpful and friendly and became quite an invaluable resource of knowledge for us during our stay.
We had a truly idyllic time in Kuta, Lombok, and I think we might even head back there in a few weeks!