The problem with Kuta Lombok

5th March 2019

dog in kuta lombok

I arrived in Kuta Lombok full of expectations, after hearing so many tales of unspoiled 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 in Koh Phangan. Unfortunately, it also happened in Kuta Lombok. I stuck around for a few days to explore the surrounding areas with a scooter, in search of the magic I’d heard so much about.

Please note, this was my own personal anecdotal experience of Kuta Lombok, several years ago. I don’t usually write negative articles and you’re probably here today reading this because for some reason Google has decided this was excellent content to put on its first page. Do take with a grain of salt. I would definitely 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.

kuta lombok

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 warungs (to be fair, there was some great food around) and goats and children roaming the busted roads incessantly trying to sell you bracelets (the children, that is). It reminded me of the 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 roads west and east of Kuta afford great views of the sea, but the land on the hills 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.

Of course, there are the beaches. Kuta Lombok has beautiful beaches. I loved Mawun beach, despite the crazy rip current and the fact that you have to come to terms with being the sole livelihood of the Sasak 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 beaches and riding a scooter around, dodging the buffaloes and potholes, I felt ready to move on to a place that suited me better.

beautiful girl in kuta lombok

One thing that really didn’t help my enjoyment of Kuta Lombok, however, was my choice of accommodation, which I selected based on rave Tripadvisor reviews. Imagine this: a set of cute little rooms, recently built, with large comfortable beds and little porches. Imagine the rooms are set around a beautiful little garden, with a gorgeous mango tree at its centre. Imagine being away from the call to prayer and street noise of Kuta town, with just the gentle croaking of the geckos for company. Imagine that?


Now imagine that, 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 neighbours 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, as much as I wanted to love Kuta Lombok 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.

corn in kuta lombok

After not enjoying the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia and now Kuta 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 a 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 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.

beach kuta lombok

view kuta lombok

Has any travel destination ever let you down?

44 thoughts on “The problem with Kuta Lombok

  1. Pingback: Living in a tobacco drying house | Mostly Amélie

  2. Pingback: Gili Air: Lombok's dumb blonde | Mostly Amélie

  3. Paul

    We nearly got talked in to going here ourselves but resisted based on the fact that we were quite happy in our little corner of Bali (Jemeluk) and despite all the tips often ‘the grass isn’t greener’ so we stay put…

    From your (funny) post it sounds like we made the right choice, and by the way I am like that weirdo on TA…

  4. puti

    I love mawun beach, i just got from there. maybe next time you cud try Drop in bungalow..check them out in airbnb 🙂

  5. Daniela

    I’m here and I’m hating it!!! I though There was something wrong with us (my boyfriend and me), but that place really sucks and it’s people as well! Not friendly at all, very rude. I feel like I was kidnapped by the mafia.

      1. anna van neerven

        Hi Amélie!

        Finally I found a vegan blogger who visit Lombok and other places in Asia 😉 Sad to hear about Lombok Kuta. Me and my boyfriend are going 10th of April to Lombok – Sengiggi – then climbing the Rinjani…- then to Kuta (lombok) – Komodo – Flores – Bali and then Gili Meno.

        I’ve been to Bali before and I thought let’s not stay for a long time in Bali (a lot of tourists), but now I read your blogs about Bali (especially Ubud), i’m thinking maybe we should stay there longer dan 2 days!

        Do you have any tips, suggestions about Sengiggi (like food or things to do)? I hope you can help me out (a) Have a nice evening.

        Lots of love, Anna

    1. Monique

      We here at the moment. Agree people very very pushy and rude. I’m not feeling that same energy as I do in Bali.
      The sea is beautiful. But the village is dusty, so polluted and as you say soulless. Our accommodation is nice and luckily pee free and no balls in sight.

  6. Chesca @

    Just came across this post now as I thought I was going mad by hating it here! Then realised I also came across your Ubud post when we were travelling there. Most certainly following now 🙂

    Me and my partner arrived in Kuta last night, and have already had more bad experiences here than our almost-finished 2 month trek over from Java. I don’t get the hype; it is indeed a soulless, dusty place.

    I had also heard amazing things, which is why we came here, but have found the experience to be fairly disappointing. For the first time since travelling in Indonesia, I was heckled and harassed incessantly by young men on their scooter as we walked one evening to the beach. They kept going up and down up and down, shouting at us everytime they passed, and that was with my boyfriend! We also had to escape the gangs of semi-feral dogs that roam the beach at night too, which wasn’t nice at all. And I bloody love dogs.

    We also thought – are we not doing this properly?? Is there something not right with us? But I don’t think we’re the only ones who feel it. You’re completely right, there’s no character here, and if you’re not out surfing all day, there isn’t much else to do but eat. Onwards and upwards 🙂

  7. Chantae

    I HATED my first trip to Kuta, Lombok and had the same perception as you. I wondered why everyone loved it. Second time, went back and loved it. I’ve been back 3x since and have stayed there for ~3 months the past year… it’s gotten MUCH more crowded and developed (more bracelet kids, more construction/touting) over the past few years. I can definitely see how it doesn’t appeal at all to non-surfers. I like some of the main beaches (near turtle warung) but it does seem that everyone is making it a bit overhyped. I recently sent a friend there thinking he’d love it (he’s a surfer). He got bad vibes and left right away, so you’re definitely not alone.

  8. Tasha

    I’m in Kuta right now and I second allllll of this and then some. Expectations definitely did not match reality on this one…

  9. P

    Hi Amelie, I agree with you. Kuta used to be a wonderfull, isolated village with beautifull beaches, quiet and clean. Nowadays, there is concrete everywhere, it’s getting super dirty (plastic bags everywhere and and it’s noisy as hell (motorbikes without propper knalpot, people shouting, karaokes outdoors.

  10. Tonkin Voyage Travel

    OMG, I still think like your expectation! My friends (his hometown is in Lombok) tells me to come to Lombok, experience something different from the bustling neighbor Bali. He said that Lombok is untouched and has so many wild beaches for surfing, but everything seems to be not like his speech. Nonetheless, I still put it in my bucket list cuz I want to explore Gilis. Thanks so much for sharing !

  11. De boer Eric

    October 2017 i was supposed to go to Lombok but after reading your your article and the comments of the followers i have canceled my trip and stayed in Bali. But this year after the earthquake i have came back to indonesia and decided not to be influenced by other poeple experience and comments and decided to experience it my self and my pregnant girl friend.

    We had the best time ever because we went there with a complete open heart without judging anything and embracing the difference.

    we knew there were kids selling bracelets, so we took with us colouring pencils. right after the first day they became our friends and we used to spend hours with them in a cafe called Kenza with good vegan options. amazing place to hangout.

    the dogs are so sweet and no harmful at all.
    The food in Kuta Lombok is amazing and we were eating in these 3 places:
    @Elbazarlombok | @Krnk_lombok | @kenzaLombok

    We say, open your heart and embrace the difference. sometimes it is good to see where we all coming from

    1. Peter

      I guess you must love dogs a really really big lot if you find packs of them roaming the streets not intimidating, and enjoy them shagging right in front of your food table.
      Personally I found the street dogs disgusting and intimidating, and then there were the kids and the old women who are selling trinkets to you when the kids should be at school. You have missed the truth if you think these kids were your friend, they simply see you as an easy mark to be exploited.

  12. Amélie Post author

    That’s amazing, I’m so glad you had a lovely time! There’s nothing I love more than being proven wrong about a destination 🙂 And you are right, going without expectations or preconceived ideas is the best way to go!

    All best,

  13. jana

    thank you so much for your honest opinion. I’m just about to head to kuta, like you said everyone has to see for themselves and now I’m even more certain I should definitely spend my time surfing. I had the same feeling you have with a lot of places and so often I held back cause I thought I am ungrateful or just miserable but everything accept nusa penida really just annoyed me and its good to hear an honest opinion for once and not just the picture perfect Instagram world where everyone just shuts out the reality of a place. jana

  14. Abbey

    Most of what you mention for negatives is just Indonesian culture. That’s what ‘unspoiled’ means – dealing with the culture of the place that you’re in. If you’re looking for something that’s more tailored to your sensibilities – then somewhere more touristy seems like its more your vibe.

  15. Stephan

    Hi Amelie,

    I agree that the noisy bikes and bracelet kids do make the place less enjoyable. Being many times in Lombok myself, I do get annoyed at a few things, but I’ve never seen it as a ‘problem’, just differences.

    Seeing that you love Canggu and Ubud (which doesn’t have buffaloes and potholes, but oh so many people with bikes and traffics), it does suggest places you tend to enjoy.

    I don’t think Kuta Lombok was the problem. I think that you simply prefer a more civilized and touristic place.

    You could have easily changed accommodations, there were so many choices around. I don’t think that goats, chicken, buffaloes and cows running around, or women shouting loudly should be considered as ‘problems’. Remember, Kuta (even whole of Indonesia) is perhaps half a century behind from where you grew up, people were still in tribes not too long ago.

    Just because Kuta is developing in a different timeline from you, doesn’t mean that it should be a problem.

  16. Ruta


    I have just bought tickets to go solo to Indonesia for 7 weeks July and August, initially planning to stay in Bali just for a week and then go to Lombok for 4 weeks,,,+2 weeks Gili and flores… I feel really excited about the idea of spending a month in Lombok – heard it´s a great place to surf and less commercial/crowded than Bali- but getting really worried about Malaria after visiting yesterday international vaccine centre and browsing the Internet … The doctor highly recommended me taking prevention pills…However, she also told me that if I started taking them, I´d better not interrupt the treatment even if i felt bad… but that would mean that I would have to take them for nearly 60 days in total and, as far as I have been told, the secondary effects might be really bad on the stomach and other organs, and they are not uncommon…Thus, I was given a prescription for emergency medication in case I got malaria…

    ..but I am having second thoughts now and really don´t know what to do…. go back to the vaccine centre for a prescription and take malaria prevention pills for 2 months or try to protect myself with repellents and hope it will turn out well?

    Anybody who has been in Lombok or travelling around for a long period, could you give me some advice? How bad is the problem with mosquitoes?

    1. Nathasha

      dont get too worry about that.. I am Indonesian, grew up in Bali, and my husband is from Flores. Mosquitos is common thing all over Indonesia, especially in rainy season. For prevention just prepare the anti-mosquitos spray or lotion. Works great, but just dont use it too often. Some says it’s not good for long term usage.

  17. Richard

    I think the fact that you just want to be in a retreat in Canggu says it all. It is like chalk and cheese. You either like to travel and actually see how local people around the world live or you want to hide away in a retreat that offers nothing ( I may be wrong? ) to the local community. I do agree with you a bit about Kuta town itself but it is really just a place to base yourself and if you go on the bikes past Mawun and down towards Selong Balanak it is beautiful. Also yes it is primarily a place based around surfing. If you surf you will be looking back towards the beach at some stunning scenery at all the spots. Indonesia is not Bali rippy hangouts, Kombucha and faddy yoga retreats.

  18. Peter

    I am writing this reply from Kuta Lombok, and I have to say that your observations of the place are totally correct. Whilst I rate that the beaches are some of the best I have seen in my life, the people here lack style in every way. Speaking of lacking style, I am amazed that even though you have gratified your body so badly with tattoos like that, you are able to articulate your thoughts so well, so well done to you. Most people in that demographic seem to have trouble talking yet alone articulating experiences in writing.

      1. Margrit

        Amelie, such a condescending reply from Peter😩😡
        Been traveling around for a long time and sometimes I just don’t “fit”. Other places make me feel as if I belong … Hey, your experience, your call👍🤛
        I will still check it out, but with caution😂

  19. Ross

    Kuta Lombok is great , people are to precious , people are great , ample food and restaurants , great exploring in bike , good beaches a lot off fun

  20. Erick

    Please people don’t take this blog so seriously, she started with she loves Canggu. If this is you’re thing please stay there… Canggu is awful, it has nothing to with Indonesia or Bali. It’s a bule (white) town, no locals like to go there same as Ubud. People like you, giving first time travelers the wrong idea what’s nice in Indonesia.

    Please people go beyond Bali and go explore other islands, no! Not the gillis, these are ready gone to shit. Go find articles of people that not looking for Western places in a thirty world country. Go search, Sulawsi and see how many beautiful things that islands has to offer, yes you need to do some traveling but it’s always better than waiting inline for a Instagram photo because of these people on this kind of blogs.

    Indonesia is big, and if you trust these kind of blogs you probably will always go to the wrong places.

  21. Matt

    Me and my wife have just returned from Lombok staying at Batu Layer like so many of you have said Lombok is not BALI
    We are a couple in our early 50s and have been to Lombok many times with and with out our children the place is fantastic and the locals nothing but friendly ok they try and flog you the odd bracelet but they are just trying to make a living
    The north gillis are great but if you want spectacular head down to the southwest gillis ,Gilli Gede is very nice and the locals very friendly with good snorkelling and top that with lunch at Ko-Mo Resort and you have a top day out
    As for Bali give it a miss very over rated ( our opinion only people )✌️

  22. Leanne

    How much you enjoy a place the first time is alot to do with how it compares to your expectations and if you spend time researching a holiday and money on getting there then it’s only natural to be disappointed if it falls short of your expectations. I, like Amelie was ‘expecting’ a chilled out unspoilt paradise, but sadly I was also disappointed because 1) the bracelet selling really is relentless, it’s not just a few times. You are trying to sleep/ read/ chill on the beach and every 5 minutes you are interrupted. This is the opposite of relaxing. It doesn’t mean you don’t sympathise with the locals trying to earn a living but at the end if the day buying bracelets is not why you came on holiday 2) The feral dogs- you see them everywhere and some are not in a good condition (e.g. limping), you just feel so sorry for them, I found it very sad. 3) Lots of litter and plastic bags on the sides of the road, even on some of he beaches.

    In summary we ended up researching more quiet beaches and getting taxis there, we also did a few surfing lessons and made the most of our trip but I wouldn’t go back to Lombok again because I found the combined 3 factors above a bit too depressing, but at least we didn’t have the farting owner with his balls hanging out, what a shocker!!

  23. Joe

    Lombok is paradise for me I started my holiday in Lombok Senggigi and after that I moved to (( Gili canggu Ubud sanur uluwatu )) too mush tourists trafic stress
    I’ve decided to come back to the Lombok and I’m still enjoying this unique and picturesque island 🌴

    1. Joe

      About the selling bracelets I was in la chill bar enjoying the sunset time suddenly I don’t know how I started talking to an old woman who tried to sell me a bracelet and i did
      in the end she told me that since 9 am she didn’t sell anything
      With tears on her eyes for 20 dollars I will never forget that i regret I didn’t buy from her more bracelet (( I just have the filling of being manipulated by technology and media influence I mean when I buy shitty bag from Louis Vuitton for 4000 $ …..
      I just want to say to those having problem with selling bracelets in Lombok admit that people trying to make living because it’s not Rich island

  24. Vrac

    We came here last night. This is worst place in the world. We are living after one day. People are agresive and rud. Never again.

  25. Scott

    I’m here now and a little confused by the feedback. I live in canggu. It’s far more “dusty” than Kuta. The roads here are like new??? Great food, great place to stay and great beaches. Far far cleaner than Bali beaches.

  26. Aylin

    “.. if you’re not a surfer, you end up spending an awful lot of time in this rather soulless dusty place”

    “In comparison, I found the hills on either side of Senggigi so much more beautiful and a real treat to ride a scooter around.”

    –> I totally agree with you. We were also wondering if there is something wrong with us. It is quite difficult for us to warm up to Kuta. We will definetly give Kuta a try when we will come back right after the rainy season (we have been there in August), but next time we would stay just round 3 days there.

  27. Lisa

    Hi thanks for the info! I’m on Gili air and enjoying it so much!! No cars no motorcycles! People talk to each other ! I went to Ubud Bali and I would not stay there for more then 2 days!! Mass tourism! But what I disliked the most was the people on motorcycles! Apparently Kuta Bali is even worst!!! So I’m delaying our trip to Lombok just to feel good a little longer in Gili air 😊

    1. Amélie Post author

      I also loved Gili Air, and really disliked Kuta Bali. I did enjoy Ubud a lot though, mostly for the vegan food scene. If you surf, you may really enjoy Kuta Lombok. Everyone’s experience is so totally different also, don’t let mine interfere with yours too much (:

  28. da

    i guess it depends what are you looking for – galaxy smoothies or not ruined paradise. One has to understand what hospitality standards are way behind in Lombok, and North is also very different from South. Also remember, it is Muslim place. So dont expect respect from local with bikinis and shorts.

    I been many times to Bali and last trip was devastating, thats not Bali i used to know. I went to Lombok with open heart – and really found the paradise. And it is really not in the Kuta Lombok, place completely changed in last year already.

    I encourage everyone to understand how people live there and what they have to share and what we can still learn from them. I stayed in completely remote places and feel blessed that i still saw paradise which exists.

    Go before its too late, government approved the Motor Race for 2020 in Kuta, so it will be next Bali by then.


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