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Kuta Lombok! To go or not to go?

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  • Kuta Lombok! To go or not to go?

    Hey guys, I am not a surfer, but I do like quiet, empty beaches with no (or few) people. I enjoy snorkeling, swimming and running on these beaches (sunrise).

    Some criteria to help you decide if Kuta Lombok (and the beaches around it) are right for me?

    * I am going in early March.
    * I am a shoestring budget traveler.
    * I frequent warungs and sometimes happy hours. I avoid tourist restaurants.
    * I don't go for nightlife, instead sleep early and wake up 1 hour before sunrise.

    Not sure if homestays under 100,000R even exist in Selong Belanak? Or am I stuck with Kuta Lombok because it has the most budget options?

    My question is should I bother flying to Lombok (after Bali) or just go straight to Sumbawa?

  • #2
    Hey, I hope I'm still in time to lend a hand before you head out to Indonesia since it's already early March.

    Lombok is definitely worth the trip after Bali and before heading to Sumbawa. My wife and I backpacked across East Indonesia, including Lombok and Sumbawa, for almost 3 months late 2019. Rented a scooter, hitched the bus at bus terminals and took the ferry/boat as we too traveled on a shoestring budget and wanted to move with the locals out there.

    That said, I don't think we found a homestay for Rp. 100,000 in Lombok or Sumbawa. If you did, props to you. Would seriously love to know where you got the connect man. But in general, the further east you go, the more expensive it gets because of accessibility, especially Sumbawa. Should others in this forum have a different experience, do share since we plan on going back that way.

    I would suggest, if you can :
    • rethink about how well you want to sleep. my wife and I prioritized a decent night's rest over food and activities because at the end of the day being able to sleep pays dividends especially after a long trek from city to city.
    • increase housing to Rp. 150,000 and maximum Rp. 180,000. We were amazed to find how much or how little we could get for that Rp. 150,000 on different islands.
    • don't know your comfort levels, but even with my suggested increase, be prepared for a variety of scenarios. We got standard western bathrooms/beds all the way to outdoor bathrooms, squatting situations, bucket baths (literally a faucet and a mop bucket) and beds that just had a mattress cover with cigarette burns.
    Kuta, Lombok is very touristy but has nice beaches. Tanjung Aan is stunning with its perfect crescent cove shape, white sand and beautiful water. The main attraction though is sunset on Bukit Merese - seriously worth it. Back to the touristy part, there is literally one main street and that's jammed pack with your tourist cafes/restaurants, but my wife and I managed to get cheap, local warung food.

    What we did in Lombok that's relevant
    • Gili Meno - NW Lombok, (part of the infamous Gilis), is the least touristy of the 3 islands - catch your white sandy beaches, snorkeling with turtles and visit the turtle sanctuary, avoid the underwater statue garden since it felt like a lake party during spring break with boats everywhere, sunset with jagung bakar on the west side or catch the sunrise on the east
    • Mataram - West Lombok, capital of the NTB province, museum to check out the culture/history, eat Sate Rembiga and Ayam Taliwang, buy local textiles and herbal ointments for pain, catch the sunset at the harbor with local warung food
    • Bayan - North Lombok, the foot of Rinjani, check out the Tiu Kelep waterfall

    What to do in Sumbawa that's relevant
    • Jelengah Beach - West Sumbawa, known for a world-renown surf break called Scar Reef, a little hard to get to but the beach is worth it. One of the best sunsets I've ever experienced. Banana Homestay is where its at. Great food and hospitality
    • Sumbawa Besar - NW Sumbawa, eat at Warung Totang Rasa Bu Atis for local Sumbawa dishes, check out the museum, go to Moyo Island (we didn't but people said to)
    We traveled further east to Bima and Sape, but no beach visits there or much drinking. Didn't get to go south in Sumbawa where there are some nice beaches but transportation was a bit difficult without chartering, which we avoided. Flores was beautiful and worth it for you, like Labuan Bajo.

    Apologies for the long post but anything I missed, happy to help. I know as a backpacker, relying on blog posts or forums really make the trips work.