The beautiful and relaxing Kuta Lombok (not to be confused with the much busier and chaotic Kuta Bali) is an absolute gem located in south Lombok. A perfect destination for both surfers and backpackers alike, Kuta Lombok is becoming one of Indonesia’s fastest growing tourist destinations worth visiting. After sailing around Indonesia for 4 months, we decided to make Kuta Lombok our home base for an entire 6 weeks. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most out of your visit!
There are two main ways to get to Kuta, Lombok: by plane or by ferry.
Lombok International Airport (LOP) is only a cheap 30-minute flight from Bali, and Kuta is about 30 minute drive away from the Lombok airport.
The flight from Bali to Lombok should cost about $20 when booking at least a week in advance. I recommend flying with AirAsia as they usually have the cheapest flights AND have 15kg of baggage allowance included in their already cheap prices!
A taxi from the airport should cost you about 100,000 Rupiah (USD$7.31) and within no time you’ll be right in the center.
You can also take a long 6-hour ferry to Lombok from Bali for 36,000 rupiah, but after incorporating the price of the taxi from the harbor to Kuta, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to fly. The only reason to take the ferry is if you want to bring your motorbike over, but you can easily rent a motorbike once on the island.
From the Gili Islands (Trawangan, Air, Meno)
The Gili’s are located only a few short miles away from mainland Lombok.
The cheapest way to get to Lombok from the Gili’s is by public boat. When you go to the harbor you can ask for a “Kuta, Lombok public boat” package and that will include your ticket for the public boat along with a shared van shuttle transportation directly to your hotel. It should cost about 150,000 Rupiah.
Otherwise, you can take the private or public ferry on its own and get a taxi once you land (this usually ends up being much more expensive).
Once in Kuta, most of the restaurants will be within walking distance. However, most of the things you’ll want to do will be a short scooter or taxi away.
Renting a scooter or motorbike is quite simple and should cost you 50,000 rupiah per day. There are no official gas stations in Kuta, but you can fill up at any of the “gas stations” on the side of the street. You’ll see a wooden stand and vodka bottles filled with blue/green liquid. Simply pull over and the shop owner will come right out. Each bottle should cost you 10,000 Rupiah.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving a scooter you can use a shared shuttle service. If you already know where you’d like to go, walk down the main street in Kuta and you will see signs with destinations and prices. Go to any of these (they all work together) and talk about their offers. They usually run on a set schedule and are only cheaper if there’s only 1, sometimes 2 of you. Otherwise it is cheaper to hire a driver.
For groups larger than two or for complete freedom and privacy, you can get to your destinations via taxi. Each homestay and business will know a driver, usually they’re pretty good. We find referrals to be much better than trying to get one on the street as they commonly charge higher prices. Our personal favorite driver is Alussio. If you’re planning on visiting you can message him on WhatsApp at +62 853 33553436 to set up a ride and tell him you’re a friend of Patricia!
Note: Unlike Bali and the rest of Lombok, Grab and GoJek are NOT available in Kuta. You might be able to get one from Mataram or the Airport to Kuta, but if you’re in Kuta you won’t be able to order. Trust us, we’ve tried.
What to Do
The options for what to do in Kuta Lombok are limitless. Whether you want to sunbathe at the beach, visit a waterfall, or go bar hopping, there is something to do for everyone. Our personal favorites and things you can’t miss that are close by are:
Whether you’ve never surfed before or are quite advanced, there’s a beach and wave for you. Within a 30-minute drive from Kuta in each direction you can find over 15 beaches! Here’s where to surf:
Selong Belanak – (best surf beach for beginners)
2-hour lessons start at about 300,000 and include board rentals and a rash guard. When you get to the beach you’ll see a line of shops and to be honest they’re all pretty much the same. Our personal favorite is ‘Black Fin’ as it’s a little further away from the entrance so it has less people. The guys there are really nice as well!
Gerupuk – (for experienced surfers)
This intermediate surf spot is unique because you actually have to take a boat out since the waves are in the middle of a bay! This is one of our favorite spots since the waves are usually very consistent. “Insides” is for more beginner surfers and “outsides” is for more advanced.
If leaving from Gerupuk (located 20 minutes from Kuta), the boat ride should cost about 150,000 per person for two hours.
About an hour away from Kuta you’ll find the Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls. There’s actually a group of five waterfalls in total, but these two are definitely the most impressive. You have to pay per person per waterfall, so if you have the time to do all 5 great! But, if you want to choose a few these two are definitely our favorites.
Note: you can haggle the price down.
Try to visit the waterfalls during the week. They get quite busy during the weekend!
Kuta has the BEST diving in Lombok (also better than the diving in Bali). There’s a brand-new dive shop in the center of town that just opened up called Blue Marlin Dive who have discovered the most amazing dive spots in Lombok. I spent two months diving both in Komodo and in the Gili’s and I can hands down say this is some of the best diving I’ve ever done. It’s a full day trip if you go diving with them, but absolutely worth it. Their shop is located on the main street heading to Kuta beach.
There are so many beaches to explore in Lombok. I personally think they are some of the best beaches in all of Indonesia. Kuta Beach itself isn’t necessarily the nicest, but does have good infrastructure and a nice boardwalk as it connects to the neighboring Mandalika beach. Hop on a scooter and in just a few minutes you’ll arrive at a beautiful white sand beach. A few favorites are:
Tanjung Aan Beach
You can scooter down in about 15 minutes. This beach is known to be the best for sunbathing (and photos) as it as powder white sand and blue waters, and rather calm waters. There’s also a swing that many people like to take photos of. The beach is lined with shade and local restaurants where you can get drinks and food, and use the beach chairs for free.
Selong Belanak Beach
The same beach that is perfect for beginning surfers also happens to be one of my favorite beaches. It also has white sand and blue waters, and the mountains that surround it are simply gorgeous. My favorite part though is that twice a day you can find a herd of water buffalos crossing. It’s honestly beautiful and such a unique thing to see. They show up once in the morning (between 9-11am) and again in the afternoon (between 3-5pm).
Yet another white sand and light blue water beach surrounded by beautiful hills to add to the list, but this one is a bit quieter than the other popular beaches in the area. If you’re looking to just relax, I’d definitely recommend this one.
Heads up! every beach you go to will have a parking fee of 10,000 rupiah.
The sunsets in Kuta are absolutely gorgeous, especially if you know where to go.
Merese Hill (Bukit Merese)
Merese Hill is by far the most popular spot to watch sunset for both locals and tourists. It is the hill at the end of Tanjung Aan beach, and once at the base can be reached in a short 2-5-minute walk up the hill. Get there early if you want to get a good spot!
There are two amazing yoga studios in Kuta Lombok: Ashtari and Mana.
The view from Ashtari overlooks Kuta and is pretty amazing. It’s located just outside of town, but they do offer free shuttles if you reserve in advance. They have 5 yoga classes every day. If you are staying at the Novotel Hotel they also hold one class daily at the hotel on every day except Thursday. Drop-in rate is 100,000 rupiah. You can see their full schedule of classes here.
Kuta Lombok Nightlife
Kuta Lombok somehow balances the mix between being a sleepy surfer town a backpacking party destination. It’s relatively quiet during the day, but each night there’s a place to go if you want to party. There’ll be a sign located here (the corner of Kuta and Mandalika, next to the Blue Island Medical Clinic) letting you know where the party is that night. The parties start rather late, but the hot spots are Rere Bar, Jungle Bar, and Rasta Bar.
Where to Eat - Restaurants
After staying in Kuta for almost 2 months, I think I managed to try almost every single restaurant. There is so much variety and I was honestly impressed that such a “small” town like this would have so many good options. A few worth mentioning are:
This is in no way good quality food, but for just how cheap it is it doesn’t matter. It also happens to be open until 3am so it’s perfect for after a long night out. For less than $2 you can get an entire cheeseburger. Their omelets are also worth mentioning as they are HUGE and also very cheap. They also have vegetarian options.
While it’s not the best pizza in the world, when compared to the other pizzas in Kuta, Bus Bar is hands down the best (I say this as a pizza-snobby New Yorker). It’s only open after 6 so if you want pizza earlier another “favorite” is the Italian restaurant Sapori.
The only Mediterranean restaurant in Kuta and also the most expensive, El Bazaar sets the scene for a unique dining experience. The inside is decorated with chandeliers and other Moroccan décor. The food here really is quite good, and for a cheaper option they do have a set menu of the day that is worth checking out!
For the most instagrammable place in Kuta you can head to Kenza Café. The vibe is bright and the plating is colorful and beautiful. The food is really good too and they have a good variety of options for both meat eaters and vegans.
If you happen to be in Kuta on a Sunday night you absolutely have to go to the all you can eat buffet at Loka. The best part is that it’s only for 30K – although you’ll absolutely be tempted to buy a drink as they have live music and happy hours as well. The buffet starts at 7:30pm and ends quickly so make sure you get there on time!
Every night of the week there is a daily special. For a list of what’s going on that day and all of the specials check out the Kuta & South Lombok Events Facebook Page and check the ‘Announcements’ tab!
Where to Stay – Accommodation
With the motoGP construction in full force, accommodation in Kuta Lombok is expanding rapidly. You can find a new hotel or villa popping up almost every week! I’d recommend staying somewhere close to the center since that’s where everything is (tours, rentals, food, etc.). However, if you’re looking for a blissfully private and luxurious stay, staying a few minutes outside on one of the beautiful hills overlooking the ocean is also a great option! My recommendations for each budget are:
Backpacker Budget Accommodation
Bamba Capsule Hostel – this place has the perfect atmosphere. At $15 a night it’s slightly more expensive than the other hostels, but has an amazing pool and restaurant area. Plus, the fact that you sleep in a capsule is pretty cool! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews about here and it’s located walking distance to everything in town.
Best Cheap Hotel ($20 or less)
S Hotel – by far the best deal in town. The only drawback is that you can only book in person so if you are okay with last minute planning this is definitely my recommendation! Private rooms start at 150K ($11) a night for one person, or 220k ($16) for two, and have air conditioning, hot water with great water pressure, breakfast, a great location and they accept credit card! There’s also a pool onsite and restaurant with room service. This is definitely our go-to place to stay when we visit Kuta.
Lower Mid-Range ($20-50)
Upper Mid-Range ($50-100)
Luxury/Villa Accommodation ($100+)
Jivana Resort – at less than $90 a night this place is true luxury. Anything and everything you could ever want or need is available here. For larger groups and true luxury, I recommend getting the Two-Bedroom Villa ($240 – fits up 4 people) as it comes with your own private pool.
Villa Alasa – we also spent a few weeks at this amazing villa. We were one of the first guests to stay there and all I can say is WOW. It’s a 4-bedroom villa atop a hill overlooking Tanjung Aan beach. The infinity pool is one of my favorite parts, and the sunsets from here are incredible. It’s located a little away from the center of Kuta – about 10 minutes by motorbike – so it’s perfect for a quiet and peaceful vacation. You can choose to either rent out the entire villa (great option for a group friendcation) or you can book by room. Most of the people who stayed there when we visited were couples or a group of friends traveling together who booked out multiple rooms.
Other Things to Know
When To Go
High season and dry season in Kuta is from April – September. From these days you’ll get abundant sunshine and perfect beach weather. One big thing to note is that the color of the mountains will change drastically. During the rainy season and until about beginning of May you will have lush green beautiful hills. After this however, the hills get very dry and turn yellow and dull. It is warm all year round. Kuta is still a rather calm place so no matter when you go it won’t be too crowded. The exception being the motoGP event scheduled for 2021 – the entire town is expanding just to accommodate this event so unless you’re there for the races I would avoid going during this time.
I was very surprised that most of the restaurants (yes, even the “trendy” ones) didn’t take credit card! ATM’s are abundant however so finding a place to get cash out shouldn’t be an issue.
Although Lombok is a good place to learn how to ride a bike because of the flat, well-paved and relatively trafficless roads, accidents still happen. Particularly when going to some of the beaches the roads can become sandy and this is where most accidents occur. With the influx of tourists who are driving for the first time there is also an influx of accidents. Make sure you’re covered, just in case. For the cheapest travel insurance that covers all the essentials, we use SafetyWing.
While there aren’t many vendors that bother you wherever you go, there are, however, bracelet kids. You’ll see children of age 5-10 going around selling bracelets. Some of them are quite clever and will try to play games with you to get you to buy. Even though you don’t see them with their parents, they are usually around. It does get quite uncomfortable and they are almost everywhere you go in town and can be a bit pushy. There is a weird relationship between the shop owners and the parents of the kids so some stores can’t actually tell them to go away. After a few days in Kuta you’ll know what I mean. I personally don’t feel comfortable supporting this as it’s a little too close to child labor for me, but if you do decide to buy a bracelet the cost should only be 1-2$. It’s also good to note that the bracelets they sell aren’t “homemade”, but mass manufactured and handed out by a bigger business.
You will also see mothers selling their blankets and sarongs. I much prefer to support them, as some of these women walk HOURS each day to try and sell their handmade crafts.
Tip: If you are in a restaurant eating and want the kids to leave you alone, you can say “makan makan” and point to your food and they will leave as interrupting someone eating is very rude in their culture.
A new supermarket opened recently called Fresh Market that is very similar to Western supermarkets. Here you can find all kinds of snacks and food items, along with deli and grab and go sandwiches and cakes. (The banana bread here is quite good). It’s the only supermarket in the area of this level and is a good place to stop in if you feel you need air-conditioning or just a small snack! For those familiar with Bali, it’s run by the same people who run Pepitos.
Back in the day, Kuta used to have a very bad reputation of being dangerous but has completely turned it around. After seeing the success of Bali and the nearby Gili Islands, Kuta Lombok is really focusing on being tourist friendly. Everyone here is so nice and always smiling. Obviously always be cautious of your belongings but you don’t hear of the bike phone stealers and daily pick-pocketers as you do in Bali. There aren’t many people trying to completely rip you off either (with the exception of taxi drivers, for some reason this is a common theme everywhere we’ve been).
Local laundry places can be found abundantly on the main street in Kuta. After bringing in your laundry they will weigh it in front of you, and it will usually be ready the next day. Prices range from about 10-15,000 rupiah per kilogram. If you go slightly outside of town towards Ashtari, you can find cheaper laundry places for 6-7,000 rupiah per kilo.
Plastic Free! – when bringing in your laundry, hand it over in a reusable bag and say “no plastik”. They’ll gladly fold your laundry and return it in the bag rather than the usual plastic wrap.