I arrived in Kuta Lombok Indonesia full of expectations, after hearing so many tales of unspoiled Southeast Asia paradise from friends and trusted acquaintances. When I go somewhere I’m this hyped up about, reality doesn’t always match the expectations: it happened in the Perhentian Islands, it happened in Hawaii and it nearly happened on first time in Koh Phangan and in the Gili Islands, specifically Gili Air. Unfortunately, it also happened in the coastal town of Kuta Lombok, another popular spot.
After arriving from Lombok international airport, I stuck around for a few days to explore the surrounding areas with a scooter (definitely the best way to get around, unless you prefer a private driver, which is a lot more expensive), in search of the magic I’d heard so much about.
Please note, this was my own personal anecdotal experience of Lombok Kuta, dating from several years ago. I don’t usually write negative articles and you’re probably here today reading this because for some reason Google decided this was excellent content to put on its first page about Kuta Lombok news. Please, do take with a grain of salt. I would 100% go back to Kuta, Lombok and give it another try, and I’m sure staying in a different guesthouse would make a world of a difference. /end PSA.
The Problem with Kuta Lombok
But the magic was nowhere for me to be found. Kuta town is a dusty affair with not much else than a few local warungs (to be fair, there was some great local food around) and goats and children roaming the busted main street incessantly trying to sell you bracelets (the children, that is). It reminded me of the main road in Otres Beach, a place where you only wander in case of strict necessity, either to get a ride into town or buy some sunscreen. Except that’s mostly what Kuta is made of. It’s where the hotels, restaurants, shops, and spas are, so if you’re not a surfer, you end up spending an awful lot of time in this rather soulless dusty place. The dirt road west and east of Kuta affords great views of the sea, but the land on the steep hill itself is arid and barren, presenting little of interest than more dust for the motorbiker to eat, and the occasional sparse patch of palm trees in the hollows of the valleys. In comparison, I found the hills on either side of Senggigi so much more beautiful and a real treat to ride a scooter around. The long scooter rides from Senggigi to Kuta Beach Lombok were also nice. I guess it says something about me, like some of the comments suggest. Are you more Senggigi or Kuta Lombok? Or what are the best things about Kuta that I missed?
Of course, there is the Lombok Kuta beach. Kuta Lombok has beautiful beaches. Mawun beach is a great place, despite the crazy rip current at high tide and the fact that you have to come to terms with being the sole livelihood of the local people selling fruits to the tourists. I was happy to oblige and the spicy corn on the cob was excellent, but after two days of sampling the various offerings of Kuta Beach Lombok and riding a scooter around, waiting for low tide, dodging the buffaloes and potholes, I felt ready to move on to a place that suited me better. I hear Selong Belanak Beach is also one of the best beaches. Seger Beach, Pantai Seger, and Tanjung Aan Beach are also popular beaches.
One thing that really didn’t help my enjoyment of South Lombok Kuta, however, was not picking the best place to stay, which I selected based on rave Tripadvisor reviews. Imagine this: straight out of your blue bird taxi and into a set of cute little clean rooms, recently built, with large comfortable beds and little porches. Imagine your private room set around a beautiful little garden, with a gorgeous mango tree at its center. Imagine being away from the call to prayer and street noise of Kuta town, with just the gentle croaking of the geckos for company. On top of that the room rates were more than fair. Imagine that? The best spot so it seems…
Now imagine that great spot, except the owner is strutting around wearing just a towel, a towel so short that I caught a glimpse of his balls on more than one occasion. He is constantly and noisily clearing his nose, sucking on his teeth, spitting, burping, and farting. The TV is blaring some terrible Indonesian jingle from the house. The women of the family are busy conversing among themselves, or with their neighbors across the way. Oh, wait… Did I say conversing? I meant screaming. If they’re not screaming at each other, they’re screaming at the many children, who run around in various states of undress while shouting, screaming, crying or playing with noisy toys. Like, incredibly noisy. The roaring of a plastic motorbike outside your window at 6am is a far worse wakeup than the usual Indonesian rooster crows. Not forgetting the one little delight that simply unzips and pees wherever he feels like it: one day, he steps out of his front door, flops it out, and pees directly onto our porch, not 4 feet from where we are sitting.
I really wanted to love it there and on paper, it was the perfect place, as much as I wanted to love Kuta Lombok Indonesia while I was backpacking Indonesia, and it had all the ingredients to be amazing. But it just felt too much that I was living with the worst, noisiest, most dysfunctional neighbours in the world, in a town that hasn’t got much to offer to the non-surfing crowd. Because I do hear that some of the best surfing is in Kuta.
After not enjoying the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia and now Kuta Beach Lombok, I am wondering if there is something wrong with me? People are all different, and sometimes the slightest of detail can make or break an awesome place, and I am not calling having a prime view on an old man’s testies a slight detail. To each their own, I guess, but I thought Kuta Lombok (not to be confused with Kuta Bali, another disaster in my opinion) had no character. You just have to check places out for yourself and make your own opinion sometimes. Also acknowledge that lone, terrible Tripadvisor review in a sea of excellents, because, hey, you never know, that one weirdo who didn’t like it might just be you.
Has any travel destination ever let you down? And what’s been your favorite place?