kuta mandalika & the south coast

Visitors are drawn to the south for the raw beauty of the southern coastline, stunning beaches and scenery, almost year-round sunshine… as well as some of the best surf breaks in Indonesia!

Located around 60 km south of Mataram, Kuta (sometimes spelt Kute) is the main town and tourism centre on the south coast of Lombok, and is the gateway for exploring the fantastic south coast and the many places of interest in the region.

The Lombok International Airport (LIA) is the only commercial airport on Lombok and is located just 25 minutes’ drive north of Kuta, making access to the south very easy.

The proximity to the airport and the construction of the Mandalika Circuit has sparked an investment boom in the area over the past couple of years and Kuta has transformed into a vibrant town, with many new hotels, restaurants and cafés catering to increasing numbers of visitors.

The Mandalika Circuit – officially called Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit – was completed in 2021 and currently hosts World Superbike and MotoGP racing events, drawing thousands to the island during race times.

The Mandalika Resort development, with its plans for luxury hotels, villas and supporting facilities spread over 1000 hectares of prime land, will further transform the south coast in coming years.

Kuta is an area that is rapidly developing – residential areas are spreading, international schools have opened to serve the growing expatriate community, and shopping, services and supporting infrastructure continues to grow.

In the past, Kuta offered mainly low budget hotels catering to the thousands of surfers from around the world who were drawn to the area every year.

These days, there is a variety of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes – from simple hostels and medium range hotels to wonderful boutique resorts and luxurious villas tucked away on the side streets.

At present, Kuta boasts two large resorts: the Novotel Lombok and Pullman Mandalika Lombok Resort. Both are located on the beach just outside of town and offer a range of accommodation from comfortable hotel rooms to spacious suites and villas, some with private swimming pools.

As with accommodation options, new restaurants and eateries have sprung up in the area and are arguably among the best in Lombok. These offer a range of choices – Mediterranean, Seafood, Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, vegan and gluten free, home-made cakes and breads – foodies are truly spoilt for choice!

Kuta offers a full range of tourist facilities from motorbike hire, car rental and tours, surf lessons, surfboard hire and repair. There is a Fresh Market supermarket and various mini-markets, boutiques and shopping, as well as spas, a hair dressing salon, ATM facilities, and more.

Surfing is one of the main reasons to visit Kuta and the town attracts thousands of visitors every year for the great surf locations at Gerupuk, Ekas, Tanjung Aan, Are Guling and more. It’s easy to hire a board and a surf guide from here to learn surfing or, for experienced surfers, to access the more challenging surf breaks in the area. There are surf coaches for hire, as well as surf schools and camps throughout the year.

Apart from surfing and days spent hanging out at fabulous beaches, there are many other attractions to explore. The drive between Kuta and the airport reveals interesting rural villages and farming communities where fields of tobacco, corn and peanuts line the roadsides and farmers till the fields using antiquated ploughs pulled by large water buffalo.

Nearby are two traditional Sasak villages – Sade and Rambitan – with authentic clusters of thatched Lumbung, or rice barns, and traditional homes made of thatch and bamboo, with hardened cow and buffalo dung floors.

Both villages have been updated and cater to the tourist market, but there are still interesting examples of traditional Sasak architecture and communal living within the compounds, where life continues as it has for centuries.

Residents, who act as guides for a small fee, encourage walks through either of these villages and are happy to share a glimpse of their lifestyles with visitors.

Also nearby are pottery villages with nice examples of earthenware pots and home décor, and villages that weave traditional fabrics (tenun ikat) using old backstrap looms and techniques passed down through generations.

Otherwise, hire a car or motorbike and you can spend days visiting stunningly beautiful beaches, both to the east and west of Kuta.

Just east of Kuta is Seger Beach (sometimes called Mandalika Beach, after the legendary Princess Mandalika – a beloved character in Sasak folklore who is believed to have sacrificed herself from the rocks overlooking the beach for the good of her people).

It is here that thousands of people gather every year to celebrate the colourful ritual of Bau Nyale, when masses of sea worms spawn in the waters offshore.

There are great views from the beach and even better views if you climb the surrounding hills. There are small stalls selling drinks and snacks to enjoy after taking a swim or a stroll to enjoy the views.

Tanjung Aan, around 5km east of Kuta, is a long picturesque beach with a wide arc of white sand, perfect aquamarine water and shady trees on the shore.

There are a number of warung or beach cafés along the beach selling cold drinks and beer, as well as snacks and simple meals. Many have sun lounges on the beach and guests are welcome to spend the day swimming in the calm waters and relaxing with a drink or meal.

The water at Tanjung Aan is calm and clear, with a white sandy bottom making it fantastic for swimming. There are also perahu (local outrigger boats) available for hire, offering trips around the bay and to the nearby surf breaks.

There is a small hill (Bukit Antara) towards the east end with steps cut into the side. It’s an easy climb to the top for lovely views and you can watch the surfers catching the waves offshore.

On the far western end of the beach is Bukit Merese – a larger hill and a slightly tougher climb – but worth the effort for the fantastic views from the top. It is popular in the late afternoon, when everyone climbs up to see the spectacular sunsets.

Further east of Tanjung Aan is Gerupuk – well known as a top surf location and situated on a peninsula of land that juts out into the ocean.

The bay is used for fishing and lobster farming and is filled with local boats, which ferry avid surfers to no fewer than five surf breaks nearby.

Gerupuk is also evolving and offers a range of accommodation and cafés to cater to the growing tourist trade.

The beaches and wonderful scenery continues all the way to the east coast, with fantastic places such as Bumbang, Awang Bay, Ekas and Pantai Surga (Heaven Beach)… the name says it all!

In the opposite direction, heading west from Kuta, are another series of beautiful beaches and bays hidden behind headlands and rolling hills, providing peaceful and secluded spots for picnics and swimming. All are within easy day trips of Kuta.

Are Guling is popular with surfers, with left and right hand reef breaks as well as a beach break for beginners. There are great views over the bay and to the small island of Gili Nusa off-shore.

Are Guling has accommodation, mainly catering to surfers, and a number of local cafés, including a couple of places on the beach. 

Mawun Beach is around 30 minutes’ drive to the west and is an almost circular bay with small green headlands rolling into the ocean from either side.

It is a spectacular beach with calm blue waters, perfect for swimming and spending a day lazing on the white sand. There are stalls on the beach selling drinks, snacks and simple meals.

Mawi, around another 7km to the west, is for experienced surfers and has good right- and left-hand barrels for surfing when the swell is large enough.

For non-surfers, if you can brave the treacherous road, it is a lovely beach surrounded by small hills, with impressive views; look for the three pinnacles of rock jutting out of the ocean.

Selong Belanak is a long sweeping bay framed on each end by headlands and surrounded by rolling hills. The beach is lovely for swimming and has good waves for body surfing, as well as being popular for beginners surfing lessons.

There are many small stalls selling drinks and snacks, as well as offering surf lessons and surf board hire on the beachfront.

Sempiak Villas has plush villas, some with private pools, perched on the hillside overlooking the bay with breath-taking panoramic views.

Laut Biru Restaurant and Bar at Sempiak Villas is right on the beachfront with lovely views. It is a popular place for a stop – and justifies a day trip in itself – serving delicious snacks and meals under shady trees on the beach.

Selong Belanak is another area undergoing a lot of growth, mainly due to the popularity of the beach and the wonderful landscapes of the area. Here you will find many small hotels and villas, as well as interesting cafés and shops to explore.

If you are staying elsewhere, Selong Belanak and the surrounding beaches make a great day trip, with lunch and a swim here as the highlights of your day.

Further west are more beaches to explore – Serangan, Torok, Nambung, Pengantap and more – many of them undergoing some type of development as investors recognize the potential of this gorgeous area.

Further west stils are the picturesque bays of Sepi and Belongas, and many more scenic beaches along the way; all are mostly deserted.

Steeped in history and legend, surrounded by beaches of almost surreal beauty, the south coast is a fascinating area to visit, whether your interests are historical and cultural, in search of the perfect wave, or just the opportunity to see and explore some of the most beautiful and pristine coastal scenery in Indonesia.

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