Kuta Lombok or Kuta Bali?

'We are going to Kuta.' 'Oh, that's crazy and busy, and so touristy,' they reply. 

'No, Kuta in Lombok. I think it will be a bit different. People say it reminds them of Bali ten years ago.' 

They reply 'Oh, I've never heard of it. Where is that?'

Novotel Lombok yoga

Each morning we wake and do yoga. A purpose-built deck on the beach means we look out to a calm bay, complete with bobbing fishing boats and lone SUP'er heading out to the break out the back. The beach is quiet (all except one morning when conference delegates thought loud dance music would be appropriate to blast out of speakers at 7 am) except for the thunder of waves crashing beyond the bay. Swell is big. I've never been able to do yoga for more than 45 minutes, but these one and half hour sessions are easy. 

Lombok road

We hire a moped for $10 a day and go scootering. I wouldn't dream of doing this in Bali, but the roads look calm and safe here - as long as you keep an eye out for potholes. A tour down the main street takes about one minute. We slow down for buffalo, dogs sniffing and wandering old men. There are a few surfers chatting and locals laze in the shade. Children play in the puddles while one old man has a quick wash roadside. 

Kuta Lombok restaurant

The restaurants and shops are deserted. And there is no 'lady, come here, see this' or 'Psst, you want? Just look.' Shop owners may smile, throw something your way, but don't persist if I decline.

Kuta Lombok

There are a couple of side roads - most leading out of town. They are lined with stores, surf schools, guest houses and more restaurants. But all are empty on our visit out of season in February. 

And that's how it stays for the rest of the trip. Near-deserted. Each night the restaurants and beachside pop-up bars would take it in turns to entertain the tourists that are staying around Kuta. One bar per night would be 'the place'. 

Lombok beach

Near-deserted white sand beaches line the southern coast around Kuta. They look like the beaches I dream of - lush vegetation bordering the white sand that leads to water that is clear and turquoise colour. Sometimes we find a little rubbish floating about, but nowhere near the amount we swim through in Bali. 

Lombok Surf boats

After discovering beaches for two days my moped we decide to hire a guide, boat, and boards and head out for a surf at Gerupuk. The break we go to is called Insides, in the middle of a bay this break comes from seemingly nowhere. 

 The surf guides family being amused by Ben in his home.

The surf guides family being amused by Ben in his home.

It must be one of the easiest surf sessions I have had in my life. I catch a long wave, and then instead of an arm breaking battle to get out the back again, I have a quick and gentle paddle just outside the reef break. I'm back in the lineup minutes later. I catch waves that reform with no concern for the hard paddle that normally goes with it. The locals have fun with us, showing us tricks that keep them entertained on these smaller waves.

Lombok hawkers

Back at the Novotel, for now, the only resort on the beachfront, we are met with hawkers. But instead of sell, sell, sell, they try the sell, then sit and chat. Their children are playful and muck around with us. I try and teach them sand-angels. We book our driver to Sengiggi through one of the ladies - her husband. It's a nice end to the day after adventuring, chatting with our new 'friends'.

Lombok countryside

A 25-minute flight to Lombok. Is it worth it? You bet. If you want to see somewhere different, less touristy (but not too off the beaten track), stunning white sand beaches, and good surf - head to Kuta in Lombok. Nearly Bali - but better.

Kuta Lombok beach
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