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The Other Kuta

Kuta lombok

 

On a magical island

where durian spills

from overgrown jungle trees

 

Kuta lombok

 

gangs of monkeys halt morning motorbikers

a volcano spews

and waterfalls gush from misty cliffs

 

Kuta lombok

 

lies a coast as green as the ocean is vast

gifted with white sand beaches

and a glassy cerulean sea.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Ask me if this is Bali

and I’ll smile sadly.

 

Kuta lombok

 

This is Kuta.

The other Kuta.

 

Kuta lombok

 

This is Kuta, Lombok.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Where surfers zoom down roads

that part the hills like a prophet at sea

 

Kuta lombok

 

take their pick of hidden beaches

and ride barreling waves fearlessly.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Villagers tend their rice fields

children wave and squeal hello

 

Kuta lombok

 

water buffalo cross the road

 

Kuta lombok

 

cows graze in fields

roosters crow.

 

Kuta lombok

 

The call to prayer rings out

from one of many mosques

 

Kuta lombok

 

devout residents bow to God

others scam on tourist chicks at the surf shop.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Markets sell mangosteen

snakefruit, rambutan

little else

 

Kuta lombok

 

Street vendors open young coconuts

fry scrambled eggs in roti

dish out noodle soup.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Wild dogs own the streets

some menacing all starving

 

Kuta lombok

 

incessant sarong and bracelet sellers

stalk you in restaurants and on the beach

 

Kuta lombok

 

but ask them their names and their interests

you might find friends unexpectedly.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Spectators watch sunset sessions

from the top of a grassy hill

 

Kuta lombok

 

strumming ukuleles

as the sky ignites a Western fire.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Live music plays nightly

from a local bar or café

 

Kuta lombok

 

Indo surf boys cover U2, Adele, Nirvana

and plenty of chilled out reggae.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Tourists and locals dance barefoot together

on the Bintang soaked sand

 

Kuta - 023

 

no egos, no machismo, no attitude

just smiles, freedom, and fun.

 

This American Girl

 

Though initially I felt discomfort

and admittedly even fear

 

Kuta lombok

 

on the isolated stretches of countryside

with masculinity always near

 

Kuta lombok

 

I embraced the thrill of adventure

I accepted the support of my friends.

 

Kuta lombok

 

This Kuta

may not be a place for holidaymakers

 

Kuta lombok

 

for honeymooners

for flashpackers

 

Kuta lombok

 

it may not even be a comfortable place

for women traveling alone.

 

Kuta lombok

 

Head to this Kuta if you like raw and rugged.

Head to this Kuta if you like real.

 

 

How to Get to Kuta Lombok

 

Fly

Lombok now has an international airport connecting with Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Perth, but for the best deal you’ll likely fly on a local carrier from Jakarta or Denpasar. Flights with Lion Air typically cost around $30 and arrive in under an hour. Kuta is a 30 minute, $10 taxi ride from the airport.

 

Slow Boat

The slow ferry is certainly the most cost effective route from Bali, costing just two dollars from Padang Bai to Lombok. The entire voyage takes about 5-7 hours and a taxi will run about $20 from the ferry terminal in Lombok to Kuta. Ferries run every hour.

 

Fast Boat

This seems to be the most popular option, but in my opinion the worst. It only makes sense if you plan to stop over on the Gili Islands on your way to Kuta. Tour offices all over Bali offer door to door service from your hotel in Bali to your hotel in Lombok which involves a 1-2 hour fast boat depending on the weather. Booking online often costs $50 each way but once in Bali you can negotiate for half that rate. Keep in mind, if the swells are big this trip is nauseating and during the rainy season fast boats are often cancelled for days on end. This is by far the least reliable option.

 

 

Where to Sleep in Kuta, Lombok

 

There are plenty of homestays and hotels scattered around Kuta on the main road and across from the beach. There are no hostels in Kuta, but solo travelers and those on a serious budget can ask around at places leading out to the beach and negotiate for a private room for 100,000 rupiah, less than $10.

 

Kies Villas

I met Steve nearly a year ago in Puerto Viejo. He was staying at Om Yoga so we saw each other daily on the mat, he put some chick flicks on my laptop, and he even used me as a test dummy for his Thai Massage course. I fell asleep in the middle and apparently snored. After Costa Rica he headed to Indonesia with a mission to find a new home. He found it in Kuta, Lombok and has been busy building the absolute oasis that is Kies Villas. It’s quiet, tranquil, beautiful, full of amenities, has an amazing pool, and he’s got plans to bring in that health culture we enjoyed so much in Costa Rica, yoga studio and all! Tell him I sent you and you’ll soon be part of the family.

 

Family House

$40-80 for a double room

If you enjoy the convenience of walking to bars and restaurants, Family House has a prime location. The rooms are comfortable and clean and the hotel has a nice pool in a garden setting and an onsite restaurant.

 

Surfer’s Inn

$25 for a double room

This place has a social vibe where you can easily meet other surfers and travelers. It’s across from the beach so you’ll need to get to the main street with bars and restaurants by scooter about 5 minutes away. The rate includes breakfast and wifi, and they have a swimming pool.

 

The Spot

$25 for a double room

This is another surfer’s haven with clean bungalows including free wifi and breakfast. It has a prime location right near bars, restaurants, and the main junction.

 

 

Where to Eat in Kuta, Lombok

 

Nana’s

$1 for a meal, $.50 for a juice or smoothie

Do you want delicious? Do you want local? Do you want crazy, almost insultingly cheap? You want Nanna’s. Nanna’s is where tourists and locals rub shoulders after a surf session and chow on traditional Indonesian dishes like gado gado, nasi campur, and cap cay. Their famous spring rolls are stuffed with mashed potato and cheese. No trip to Kuta is complete without at least 3 meals at Nanna’s.

 

Warung Aldi’s

$2-4 for a meal, $1 for a juice or smoothie

Be prepared to wait. Like really wait. A long, long, time for your food. But trust me, it’s worth it. I had garlic grilled prawns with a perfect char on crisp sautéed veggies covered in ginger and lemongrass. It was hands down one of my best meals in Southeast Asia. Come here early, before you’re hungry and before they run out of everything.

 

Felice’s Vegetarian

$3-5 for a meal, $2 for a juice or smoothie

I ate here nearly every day as the food is healthy, AMAZING, affordable, and the people are lovely. They even close every Saturday to cook a big feast for the local kids in the community. I highly recommend the nasi goreng which uses brown rice, lots of vegetables, and big pieces of ginger, lemongrass, and herbs. The best nasi goreng in all of Indonesia! Non veggies can enjoy one of their fish dishes.

 

Warung Bule

$4-7 for a meal, $5 for a cocktail

Warung Boule is what foodie on a budget dreams are made of. The food served here is on par with the best restaurants in Bali and certainly many high end restaurants in the United States. Except you get a big piece of grilled fish with potatoes and vegetables for ummmm what $5?!?!?!?!!!! Yes, that’s right friends. I had a big seared tuna steak with grilled bok choy, roasted potatoes, and Asian salsa. Every dish I tasted here was phenomenal especially the seafood tempura. Don’t miss it.

 

Ashtari

Stopping in at Ashtari is a non negotiable part of any Kuta itinerary. The restaurant has sweeping views of Kuta and its surrounding hills and bays and the space has cozy nooks and corners with board games and big bean bag chairs outside on the deck. The staff all seem to really love working there and are always laughing and making jokes. My favorite time to come was first thing in the morning for a big plate of tropical fruit and at happy hour for sunset views and snack specials. The menu is exclusively vegetarian and they have a nice selection of healthy salads.

 

 

What to Do in Kuta, Lombok

 

Rent a Scooter

$5 per day

Getting around by scooter is imperative in Kuta. The hills are far too steep for a pushbike or walking and limited yourself to just Kuta bay keeps you from all the best this area has to offer. The roads are uncrowded and good for beginners with gorgeous views.

 

Explore the Beaches

Lombok’s South coast seems to have endless white sand beaches hidden down small roads. Tanjung A’an was my favorite with a huge bay, calm turquoise water for swimming, some trees for shade, and a grass covered rock that juts out into the center of the bay that makes a perfect meditation spot. I’ve heard the small break in the center of the bay is great for kite surfing.

 

Dive

Diving is emerging as a sport in Kuta, Lombok. I did not dive here, but I hear the coral reef is much more alive than in much of Southeast Asia. See for yourself by taking a dive with Discovery Divers in Kuta.

 

Surf

Check the conditions and head to Seger, Mawi, Air Guling, or Gerupuk. Intermediate and advanced surfers will certainly get their thrills, but Kuta is also a great place to learn. Take a surf lesson from Kimen Surf or venture on your own to Selong Belanik about a 45 minute motorbike ride outside of town where board rentals are plentiful and the gentle beach break is fun and easy.

 

Dance

Nights in Kuta are best spent listening to live reggae while sipping on a Bintang. Bars take turns for their “party night” and will promote it outside the day of. I really enjoyed myself on Wednesday’s at Magic for live music and all night dancing and at My Cafe on Fridays for the same same but a little different.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Hi-

    Really like your detailed tips on the bottom of your articles. Can really rely on your detailed info with the ‘best of’ places to eat, stay and activities. I find your tips have so much better than most other blogs.
    Do you know when the rainy season is for Kuta, Lombok and the Gili Islands. Want to avoid this time. Is Kuta, Lombok a good place to settle down for a week or two or would it get a bit boring? Thanks, Camille.

    Also, what are your travels plans for the next 6-12 months. Looking forward to more of your posts with the scoop.

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 19, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Aw thanks Doug, so nice of you to say! Rainy season in all of Indonesia begins around late November/Early December and lasts until April. I was there in peak rainy season, January, and there definitely was rain but there was also sun nearly every day. I was able to negotiate good deals in the Gilis and Bali on accommodation because it was low season. However, I’ve heard in June/July/August there are GORGEOUS sunsets every night and bonfires on the beach. You could definitely spend a couple of weeks in Kuta, Lombok, I certainly did. Actually, I spent 3 weeks on Gili Air and I met people who spent 3 months!! As far as Kuta, there is so much you can explore I didn’t even scratch the surface over my two weeks there. Also there is a really fun nightlife and traveller scene. I could easily spend a few months there.

      Hmmm I’m honestly not sure exactly where I will be the next 6 months. I plan to stay in Southeast Asia hopefully until summer and finish out Thailand, return to Cambodia, and I’m considering going back to Lombok and living there for a while. But I often change my mind daily 😉 In the Fall I hope to be back in Costa Rica and would like to eventually move down to Ecuador for at least a few months.

      Good luck planning your trip, let me know any other advice you need!

  2. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog while experiencing an extreme case of wanderlust a while back. Like most other commenters on here I think you do an outstanding job. I am in the early planning stages of my own adventure. I have a few obstacles to overcome in the coming months but it is nice to know that my dreams are attainable! Thanks for all the great stories and advice you offer with your blog!

    Also I noticed some really negative comments on a few of your posts! Geez there are some bitter people out there! To hell with them though! Keep doing what you love!

    Happy Travels!

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 22, 2014 at 2:57 am

      Thanks so much for your support Rory! Yes your dreams can all come true! Visualize what you would like to achieve and you will achieve it. Best of luck to you Rory :)

  3. […] The Other Kuta – thisamericangirl.com – Feb 17, 2014 […]

  4. Hi, I chanced upon your blog and this post is amazing! This contains so much details about kuta. I have afew enquires regarding kuta and was hoping that you will have answer for them. Do you know the exact location to the felice vegetarian? Is the stay you recommended nearby? I understand that renting a scooter there doesn’t require an international liecense but the police might catch you and it happens a lot. Is that true?

    • Camille Willemain Says: May 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

      Thank you so much! :) Felice Vegetarian is on the main street with most of the bars, restaurants, and some of the guesthouses. I believe it’s just adjacent to a bar called Magic. Everything is very walkable and close together in town as far as where to stay, eat, etc. It’s the beaches that you will need to access by scooter. I didn’t see any police patrolling when I was there and I haven’t heard any stories about people getting tickets. I think it’s more a problem when you get into the city near Mataram. I’ve only heard that it’s a problem in Bali. Good luck let me know anything else you need!

  5. […] February 2014 – Photos courtesy of thisamericangirl.com […]

  6. […] out my full guide to Kuta, Lombok with way more recommendations here. […]

  7. […] And after a month in Lombok […]