Centrally positioned along Lombok's spectacular south coast, Kuta has really taken off. As the main tourist hub for exploring the coast to the west and east, the town has built up a growing surf scene. With kilometre upon kilometre of white-sand bays backed by wild, forested hills, all washed by some amazing waves, it won't stay quiet long. Especially not since the opening of the Lombok International Airport, 15km north, which now channels travellers here in ever-increasing numbers. Get to the inland textile workshops at Sukarara and the traditional Sasak villages at Sade and Rembitan before they change forever.
The best travel tips for visiting Kuta
This is a picturesque town located on the southern coast of Lombok in Indonesia. Known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere, Kuta Lombok has become a popular destination for travellers seeking a more serene and unspoiled alternative to Bali. With its pristine white sand beaches, excellent surf breaks, and vibrant local culture, Kuta Lombok offers a wealth of experiences for visitors, whether they're looking to relax on the beach, explore the island's natural beauty, or immerse themselves in the local way of life.
North of Kuta is the other major influence for growth apart from the airport: Mandalika, a sparkly new resort area. Chic cafés are already open for business and villas are popping up in the southern hills. Foundations for several five-star resorts have been laid, too. The world-class Mandalika International Street Circuit is found here too - and it's already hosting races like the World Superbike Championship and the MotoGP Grand Prix. The cat is well and truly out of the bag.
Best things to do in Kuta
Youthful, laidback and surfer-ish, the best things to do in Kuta mainly focus on the beach and those massive, consistent waves.
#1 Go surfing along the south coast
Surfers return to Kuta year after year to pursue the perfect wave. The best breaks are found Gerupuk, Mawi and – more remotely – at Ekas. The beach at Kuta has been cleaned up, too. It is now dotted with little shacks selling food and renting water activity equipment.
#2 Take a shine to Bau Nyale
Each year around a hundred thousand people travel to Kuta’s Seger beach on the nineteenth day of the tenth Sasak month (Feb or March) to see the sea worm, Eunice viridis (known locally as nyale), begin their sexual cycle.
The worms live attached to rocks in the ocean and release brightly coloured male and female sexual parts, which rise to the surface ready for fertilization, turning the ocean into a seething mass of fluorescent spaghetti. The number of worms is believed to indicate the success of the next rice harvest and draw huge crowds to celebrate their arrival. Expect singing, dancing and poetry, too.
#3 Visit the traditional villages of Sade and Rembitan
North of Kuta on the Sengkol road are a couple of traditional Sasak villages that welcome tourists. Of the two, the northernmost, Rembitan, 7km from Kuta, is the more authentic. With a good guide you may learn a lot. The homes here are simple, low-roofed windowless constructions, with mud and buffalo-dung floors, bamboo walls and thatched roofs. The other traditional village is Sade, 1km south. It sees hordes of visitors and is more of a shopping and photo opportunity.
#4 Go diving Tampah
Around 15km west of Kuta is Tampah, one of south Lombok's dive sites. Amongst the rock formations and coral, you can expect to spot mobula rays, scalloped hammerheads as well as barracuda, sea snakes and reef sharks.
#5 Sunbathe at Mawun
Awesomely beautiful Mawun, 9km from Kuta, is a fabulous semicircular bay embraced by green headlands. It’s usually calm and great for swimming and snorkelling, but has limited shade.
Best areas to stay in Kuta
There’s almost no on-the-beach accommodation in Kuta and no real sea views. However, most places are an easy stroll from the water. Accommodation options are expanding quickly, with many new places under construction. Try to book ahead for July and August and late December, when rooms are harder to find.
- Mimpi Manis Owned by a very welcoming Balinese-English family who have lived in Kuta since 2004, this tiny spotless homestay, 2km north of the beach (with free daytime transport), is very good value.
- Yuli’s Homestay An extremely well-run and well-maintained popular place that constantly expands and refurbishes. It’s owned by a charming New Zealand-Lombok couple and has spotless rooms – all with a/c and cold-water bathrooms – dotted around a huge grassy plot with three pools.
Best places to stay in Kuta
Best restaurants and bars in Kuta
Portions are large and prices are generally reasonable at Kuta’s restaurants, not least because of the surfers who return year after year. For nightlife, expats and locals gather at Milk Espresso’s Rooftop Bar for happy hour and live music before migrating to Surfers Bar Kuta Lombok to enjoy the best cocktails and lovely views of Kuta beach.
- El Bazaar Café & Restaurant El Bazaar offers excellent, healthy Middle Eastern food including tagines and kebabs as well as an outstanding meze platter which takes in pita bread, hummus, couscous, carrots with honey and mustard dressing, cumin potatoes in olive oil and baba ganoush.
- Kemangi Bar & Kitchen Interestingly attached to a B&B, this chic restaurant serves un-ordinary Kuta fare. Billing its cuisine as "modern tropical", try the Ahi Tuna with lettuce, capers, orange slices and avocado for lunch or something heavier, such as Slow-Cooked Lamb Shank or Four-Cheese Risotto, at dinner.
Best places to eat in Kuta
How to get around Kuta
Everything that you'll want to see in Kuta is within walking distance. However, a limited number of buses and bemos (minibuses) also serve the town.
By bus and bemo
Although the number of bemos has declined in recent years, there are still buses and bemos that go to Mataram and Praya, which can be useful for short jaunts around the area.
By motorbike, car or bike
Motorbikes are available to rent everywhere. Bicycles and cars are harder to come by: ask at Mimpi Manis or Yuli’s Homestay.
How many days do you need in Kuta?
Visitors will need around three days to get the most out of Kuta. Plan to use the town as a base for exploring the wider region with at least a day of surfing at Are Goleng and busy Mawi. The magnificent beaches of Selong Belanak and Mawun are worth half a day; the latter has watersports such as kayaking, tubing, jet skiing and wakeboarding. Give yourself an afternoon for either Sade and Rembitan traditional village, plus any of the meditation and yoga centres in Kuta itself.
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Best time to visit Kuta
Due to its tropical climate, Kuta can be enjoyed all year round, but the best time to visit is the dry season (May to September). This is when the surrounding nature is at its best as the weather is sunny and dry, with low humidity. Expect the town and beaches to be busy with surfers and sunbathers.
The wet season (October to April) increases both rainfall and humidity, but also creates a lush and green landscape. Surfing can also be better during this period, with larger swells and less crowded beaches.
Find out more about the best time to visit Indonesia.
How to get to Kuta
To get the best out of Kuta and the surrounding area, try and have either your own car or motorbike – the north-south road to the airport is good but the east-west coastal road is still cursed by potholes.
By shuttle bus
Perama operates a shuttle service to Kuta from the Gili Islands, Senggigi, Lembar and Mataram (minimum two people).
By bus and bemo
Buses and bemos serve Kuta from Mataram’s Mandalika terminal with a change at Praya’s bus station.