The last island (cry) of our trip to Indonesia was Lombok. Only a little smaller than Bali, and closer to the Gili islands (they are actually all a part of Lombok, not Bali), we were surprised that we’d heard so little hype about this island compared to its neighbours. Lombok is the place that we’d done the least research on, and to be honest, we weren’t that excited about our 2 days there, seeing it more as a convenient way of getting back home, rather than having to go back via Bali. I think I’d just seen so much social media on Bali and the Gilis, and so little on Lombok that I just wasn’t feeling that positive about it. In the end, we really couldn’t have been more wrong. Where we stayed, Kuta (not to be confused with party-central Kuta on Bali), was full of life, colour and adventure!
It was a bit weird at first to see so many cars and scooters, having just come from the Gili islands and being used to only the sound of bike bells and horse hooves, but once we got to Kuta and walked down to the beach, we decided we were definitely going to like it there. Kuta has a really cool vibe to it- livelier than the Gili islands, without ever feeling crowded or built-up. There were loads of really interesting people around from all over the world. I even found myself being slightly sociable on occasion! Lombok is still significantly undeveloped, which is crazy considering the beaches and surf rival that of Bali. I really hope it stays this way.
Our favourite beaches were definitely Tanjung Aan, and even more so, Mawun. Both are easy to get to from Kuta by scooter, and Tanjung Aan is the closest.
We stayed in a place right in the centre of town called Bombora Bungalows, which you can find on Agoda here. We paid £48 for 2 nights in a bungalow with a private bathroom, and also rented a scooter from them for a really reasonable price. The bungalows are clean, comfortable and the complex has a nice pool area in the garden which is great after a dusty drive around the island. The people who ran it were lovely, even when we punctured our scooter tyre- think it must happen on a daily basis!
Food in Kuta was GOOD! Better in my opinion than on the Gilis. I guess this is because it’s a busier and bigger island, so things are more readily available, with more variety.
One slight negative that we did find with Lombok was the amount of super persistent and scarily street-smart kids selling bits and bobs around the beaches and town. Don’t be fooled by the cute faces, these kids know every trick in the book, and could teach any high-flying salesman in England a thing or two! It’s really no different to being in Cambodia or Vietnam in my opinion, but it’s a good few years since I experienced their hard-sell techniques, so we were probably a bit out of practise in our dealing with them. The best thing to do is to be kind, honest and direct- if you don’t want to buy one of their string bracelets for a tenner, just tell them so they don’t waste your time, or their own! These kids also seem to all be in cahoots, Oliver Twist style, so if you buy from one, don’t be surprised when all their accomplices gather around your dinner table expecting the same- fair’s fair after all!
Top tips for Kuta
1) Rent a scooter. You’re seriously missing out if not. Kuta beach is fine, but there are some beautiful bays to be discovered. Petrol is also super cheap, and can be bought from people at the side of the road. Make sure you ask the rental place for helmets!
2) Explore the island. We only had two days here, and I wasn’t looking to break my beach bum record, but if we’d had more time, we would have loved to explore inland, and further around the island.
3) If you like monkeys (I don’t), take a walk or scooter over to ‘Monkey Island’. Coming from Kuta town, just follow the road left past the beach until you get to the big mountainy hill type thing. You can buy bananas from a local guy there, but prepare to be assaulted (by the monkeys, not the man).
4) Mount Rinjani. We didn’t have time to take this trip (I think the shortest trip you can do to the summit is 2 days, 1 night), but I’m not sure I would have wanted to having heard such mixed reviews. If you google the volcano, you’ll see beautiful photos of crater lakes and mountains, but we heard that it’s gotten seriously trashed, and that litter is ruining the trekking routes. Although it’s a national park, it seems that some tour operators and visitors don’t care about the environmental impact that their waste has, which makes me so sad. I personally wouldn’t want to see such a beautiful place littered with rubbish, so gave it a miss.
5) Food! Our favourite places in Kuta were actually Mexican and Middle Eastern (please don’t judge us). El Bazar’s tagine was seriously WOW, and The Mexican Next Door did banging street food in a casual setting. We also loved The Corner Cafe for brunch and Instagrammable smoothie bowls (again, no judging!).
Have any of you been to Lombok and recommend any other areas? I’d love to hear!