It was a stress-free time in Kuta, Lombok. We loved having a scooter for the week, giving us the freedom to explore several beaches in the area. The nicer beaches were 20-30 minutes away by scooter.
The rides meandered through traditional villages and acres of rice paddies. A few locations were huge construction sites for resorts. The roads were well-maintained and we learned that the government is funding building projects in Kuta, Lombok as it is expected to become the next big tourist destination.
The coastline in the south is very jagged with rolling hills, many of which had roaming cows munching on the grass. There were spectacular views from the tops of the hills, and it was an adventure hiking from hilltop to hilltop.
We did a roadtrip one day to the southeast corner of Lombok. There were some treacherous roads trying to get to some landmarks which honestly didn’t compete with the sights near Kuta. Marc had researched some spots to see, one of which being a small village island.
We arrived there on our bike, and the locals looked really confused by us being there. We cautiously crossed the bridge to the island, of which a motorbike had sped across minutes beforehand. There were many children playing around the railing-less bridge. Their parents were back at their homes, and they greeted us. Some asked what we were doing there. It felt awkward, and only a handful of times since being here have I felt like I’m intruding on the locals. You can tell when tourists don’t go places because children will point at you and teenagers will ask to take a picture with you (This has happened to Marc a few times now. I guess people aren’t intrigued by white women).
I will forever remember our surfing endeavors in Kuta. We took two lessons with Henry from Monkey Surf. He was a small but energetic dude who chainsmoked and ate chocolate wafers for breakfast.
He took us to the beginner beach the first day. He pushed us up onto unbroken waves, a step up from the white wash. It was a thrilling time, and we both felt ourselves improving. This beach was in a beautiful bay with rolling green hills and blue waters. There were many other surfers as it was a great place to learn. Henry said that we would be ready for level 2 the next day, and he would bring us to the break on the east side of Kuta. We would need to take a boat out to the break, which instantly made it seem more intense. He said the waves would be much bigger and faster. I asked him several times if he really thought we were ready. He said, “You are good paddlers and you get up well. You’ll be fine!” I was still scared and replayed surf movies through my head when surfers fall and injure their bodies on coral.
The next morning when we got out to the break it seemed sort of dead. Good waves were infrequent, which meant if you wanted to get up you’d have to really focus. It took me a couple tries, but then I caught a wave and surfed for what seemed like minutes. I was going fast enough for the wind to catch my hair. It was a thrilling 45 seconds of being on top of the water, other surfers shared the wave. By the end of the wave I was feeling like turning right to channel the wave, but then I looked behind me and saw how far I had come. The paddle back would be exhausting! And it was. When I finally got back to the break my deltoids and traps were burning and my neck was aching. I was glad at that moment that the waves were infrequent because Marc was still waiting to catch one. I had time to sit on my board and admire the scenery. Lush greenery, trees, blue waters, and a dozen die-hard surfers basking in the sun. A few of them had white faces from sunscreen paste, true waterproof sunscreen. I wish I had some because my skin was already sizzling with burn.
We spent a couple hours out at that break, and I ended up catching about five waves. The speed of the surf was exhilarating! we were so exhausted afterward, so we relaxed at the beach warung afterward.
We enjoyed the restaurants and bars in Kuta very much. My favorite was The Bus, a trendy bar that served its drinks out of a retro van. Customers lounged on tires stacked up as chairs, metal trash cans turned upside down for stools, and pallet couches. There were DJs mixing some dance music and it seemed everyone knew each other there. We got the feeling that many travelers who come to Kuta end up staying!
Our hotel was enjoyable, too. We spent the extra $3/day to have air-conditioning. We joked about the hotel being oddly rundown. At a glance it seemed really nice and modern with a resort vibe. Looking closely, however, it was overgrown with weeds, the pool tiles were pulling up, and there were random holes in the ceiling. We wondered why there was always a group of men who seemed to be employees just sitting around the restaurant. Just a full day’s work for them and the place could be quite sharp! Then they could charge more than $10/night!