SOUTHERN LOMBOK: BEACHES, SURFING, DIVING AND A MASSIVE NEW RESORT

SOUTHERN LOMBOK

Some other nice beaches on Lombok include Kuta Beach and Tanjung on the south coast. These beaches feature lovely white sand and coconut palms. The waves on Lombok’s West Coast—particularly Bangko Bangko, Senggigi and Pertama—are great when the wave conditions are right but mediocre when the condition are not right. Looking for waves on the south coast often requires a boat.

The fascinating islands along the south coast welcome you with white sandy beaches for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. Join a boat trip and view the breathtaking scenery of Lombok's coastline and experience the pristine beaches. There are also quite a few opportunities to get into diving. You can do a "Scuba try out" free of charge in the shallow water. A qualified dive instructor or dive master will explain the scuba gear to you, and you can try out how comfortable you feel in the water, breathing "bottled" air.

Mandalika is an under-construction integrated resort area in southern Lombok. Designated as a Special Economic Zone (KEK) on Mandalika Beach, it stretches from the edge of Kuta (Lombok) the south coast of Lombok, and stretches along the coastline towards surfing spot Grupuk village of Central Lombok Regency. Mandalika is 15 km straight from Lombok International Airport. It was inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo on 20 October 2017. [Source: Wikipedia]

Indonesian Government sold Mandalika to the Dubai Development Corporation for US$ 240 million in 2007. However, due to the global financial crisis in 2008 and funding dwindled, the Emirates had no choice but to sell Mandalika back to the Indonesian government for half of the buying price. Then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Mandalika resort development project on October 2011. Among those that promised to invest in area was Government of Qatar, who signed a memorandum of understanding in 2018 to invest $500 million in the area.

Mandalika Resort Development Project

The Mandalika Resort Development Project is slated to be built on a 1,200-hectare site in Kuta, Pujut sudistrict at a cost of US$3 billion, which include approx 7.5 kilometers of white-sand beaches. The plans call for hotel, villa and a high end resort projects, and possibly a Formula One circuit, a plenary room for concert events, a seaport for excursions and other ships, and an integrated Disneyland styled theme park, an underwater park, golf course, mangrove park, eco park, and a technical park, In February 2019, it was announced that the yet-to-be-built circuit will host the returning Indonesian motorcycle Grand Prix in 2021. [Source: Wikipedia]

Mandalika resort area is managed by Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) and embraces five beaches in southern part of Lombok, namely Kuta Beach, Serenting Beach, Aan Cape, Keliuw Beach and Gerupuk Beach. The area is 1,179 hectares will be divided in 3 zones. Paramount Lombok Resort and Residences is being constructed on a plot of land measuring 7.65 hectares. The hotel with 1500 rooms would be operated by hospitality firm Paramount Hotels and Resorts, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

Mandalika resort area is expected to have 2,000 hotel rooms and attract up to 2 million foreign tourists annually by 2019. Hotels under construction in the resort area are:
Pullman Hotel- 270 rooms, and its construction had begun in October 2017.
Royal Tulip Hotel- 198 rooms, was conducted on 26 March 2018. X2 Hotel- 240 rooms,
Club Med Hotel- 350 rooms,
Grand Mercure Hotel- 342 rooms,
Aloft by Marriot Hotel, 173 rooms.

Vinci Grand Projects, a subsidiary of France-based Vinci Group, is also interested in building the Mandalika Street Circuit, a venue for the world-class MotoGP race. The sports cluster and entertainment project, measuring 120 hectares, will include the construction of seven hotels, convention center, hospital, and other facilities for accommodation of international standard. As part of the conservation maintenance, the lush green hills that provide the stunning backdrop to the Mandalika Resort area will be set aside as a conservation area of over 3000 hectares. This area is home to many native species and will only be available for low impact activities such as cycling or hiking in order to minimize damage to the endemic flora and fauna.

Kuta Beach, South Lombok

Kuta Beach (southern coast of Lombok, about 20 minutes drive south from the Lombok International Airport or approximately 60 Kilometers from Mataram) shares identical name with a famous beach on Bali. While Bali’s Kuta is bursting with crowds and vibrant night entertainment, the small coastal town of Kuta in Lombok is much quieter and still offers beautiful pristine beaches, turquoise seas, secluded thrilling surfing spots, and fascinating cultural traditions.

The coastal area of Kuta is administratively located in the Central Lombok Regency and is part of West Nusa Tenggara Province. It embraces a magnificent stretch of white sandy beaches and brilliant turquoise colored sea with rugged hills rising around it. While surfers are drawn here by its world class waves, the village has a languid charm of its own with some delightful hotels and a succession of dramatic bite-shaped bays nearby.

Every year, on the 19th day of the 10th month, this calm litle coast becomes center stage for Lombok’s Sasak ethnic group’s cultural tradition: Bau in the Lombok language means “to-catch” and Nyale is a type of sea worm that surfaces only around this time of the year. Therefore, Bau Nyale is a unique festive ceremony when large crowds catch the Nyale along a number of Lombok’s finest beaches. For mire information check out the Bau Nyale Festival under Festivals.

Beaches in the Kuta Beach Area of South Lombok

Kuta Beach is the main beach where most of the accommodations and facilities are located and offers a full range of activities. About three kilometers to the east is the pleasant beach of Putri Nyale. Aside from white sands and crystal clear waters, the beach is also closely related with the legend of Princess Nyale or Putri Nyale which is celebrated annually in the traditional ritual of Bau Nyale.

About half a kilometer further east of Puri Nyale is Segara Beach, another excellent spot. About kilometers east of Kuta Beach, is Tanjung A'an comprising two picturesque white sand bays separated by a rocky outcrop: A'an to the west and Pedau to the east. Smooth turquoise waters offer safe swimming and snorkeling, however there can be strong currents at times on the eastern bay. Tanjung A’an is the site of the Mandalika resort described above which is expected to be even grander than Nusa Dua in Bali when completed.

To the west of Kuta Beach lies Mawun and Selong Belanak Beach. Mawun beach is a secluded half-moon bay with crystal clear water and pristine sand about 8 kilometers west of Kuta Beach. An awesome place for relaxing, safe swimming and surfing, the beach is mostly identified with the big tree which people use as shelter. 4 kilometers further west, over a steep hill the beautiful bay of Selong Belanak awaits between two rocky capes.

Surfing in the Kuta Beach Area of South Lombok

With world class shores, reef and point breaks along the coast, Kuta is also a prime surfing destination. Directly facing the Indian Ocean, with its many bays accommodating various swell angles and winds, surfers will likely find good waves most days all year round. Waves are mostly reef breaks and are greatly influenced, by the tides. Waves range from ‘fun and full’ to ‘fast and furious’, with spots available for all levels from beginners to experienced.

Gerupuk is the most popular break in Kuta. This huge bay is about 7 kilometers east of Kuta and is home to five different spots which work on various tides, wind and swell combinations. Among the spots is the Inside Gerupuk or Bumbang Bay, which is a right-hander over a flat reef. It is suitable for all levels and has fun waves, with a long wall and a forgiving lip which is best on an incoming tide and can hold 10ft solid. A short boat ride away is the outside Gerupuk or Gili Gong. Outsides are generally the most reliable bet for a surf - there is nearly always something to surf here (even in low swell conditions). The wave is a right hander and can be quite heavy.

Air Guling is a right hand reef break located on the west side of Kuta. This break is one of the best right hander on the South Coast. Mid to low tides can see the inside section doubling up and barreling. A left hander on the other side of the bay is surfable, though only when it is small. Best surfing experience requires a north-west wind, most common from October to April. This surf break can hold 8-10ft when perfect, but is best at 4-6ft.

Located on the Seger Beach area, Seger Reef is the closest surf break to Kuta Village. Seger is a right reef break, with the occasional left off the peak. On mid tides and offshore winds this can be a great spot, with short tubes and ‘bowly’ walls ready for any move anyone can think of. Best surfing experience requires wind or northwest wind, around October-April. Other surf spots that offer equally thrilling waves are: Mawi, Ekas Bay, Bangko-Bangko or Dessert point, and Tanjung A’an.

Accommodation and Getting to Lombok’s Kuta Beach

Kuta has a good range of accommodation ranging from relatively cheap and slightly shabby huts all the way up to the 4 star Novotel. Most accommodation is located along the beach strip.Listed prices for budget and mid-range accommodation can change by a factor of 100 percent depending on the season. Even within one hotel complex the price of rooms can vary greatly depending on amenities, such as air conditioning, hot water and a television. The prices listed are only provided as a guide. In low season, you can bargain for discounted rates, in high season you may be thankful to get a room for any price.

Here are some of the accommodation options: 1) Novotel Lombok, Mandalika Resort, Putri Nyale Beach, Pujut, Central Lombok, Tel. +62 370/6153333, fax: +62 370/6153555, E mail: reservation@novotellombok.com, Website: novotel.com; 2) Tastura Beach resort. Jl Raya Pantai Kuta, Kuta, Tel. +62 370 655540, fax: +62 370 655398, E mail: tastura@telkom.net; 3) Kuta Indah Hotel, Kuta, Tel. +62 370 653781; 4) Lakuen Bungalows, Lakuen, Gerupuk, Tel. +62 801 907 006 138; 5) Mimpi Manis Homestay, Jalan Raya Mong, Mong Village + 62 818 369950; 6) Anda Bungalows & Restaurant, Jl Pantai Kuta, Kuta, Tel. +62 370 654836

Kuta Beach is on the southern coast of Lombok, about 20 minutes drive south from the Lombok International Airport or approximately 60 Kilometers from Mataram. SilkAir flies to Lombok from Singapore. The Lombok International Airport is served by many domestic airlines from Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali on Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batavia Air, Wings Air and Trigana Air. There is a desk at Lombok’s International airport that takes care of all travel to Kuta Lombok. You will be given a voucher that is to be used for the taxi. The voucher is a fixed price of Rp225,000. It will take you around an hour to reach Kuta.

If you want to use sea transport from Bali you need to take the ferry from Padang Bai Port in Bali to Lembar in Lombok. From Lembar the price to Kuta Lombok must be negotiated in advance. Competition is fierce and porters will often place your luggage in a taxi prior to settling the price. If taking a taxi please make sure that the driver uses the meter. The taxi fare from Lembar to Kuta should be around Rp 250,000. If using a hired car, ensure that the price is clearly agreed on before you enter the vehicle and depart.

Sekotong Bay: Lombok’s New Diving Destination?

Sekotong Bay (off the southwest coast of Lombok) is a very large bay that offers a degree of protection from the strong currents of the Lombok Strait, and for this reason became the playground of many unique sea dwellers. Located about a two hour drive from Mataram, the Sekotong Bay Area is a vast stretch of rough coastline decorated with beautiful white sandy beaches overlooking the chains of islands including Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak, Gili Gede, and more. While it may as yet not be as famous as Senggigi Beach or the trio islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air in the northwest of Lombok, this south west area offers pristine splendors especially for those who love underwater adventures.

With over 3,500 of species inhabiting Indonesia magnificent underwater world, Sekotong Bay is considered as one of the sites that has the richest marine life diversity to be found in this Indo-Pacific region. In comparison, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia has just 1,500 species and the Red Sea of the Mediterranean has only 600. Among some of the sea dwellers that divers can meet here are sea turtles, white tipped reef sharks, cuttlefish, moray eels, frog fish, ghost pipefish, and a whole lot more.

This bay is also notable for its pristine reefs with an abundance of amazing and unique soft and hard corals since it has not been damaged by dynamite or cyanide fishing. There are varying conditions throughout the bay of Sekotong: from easy and relaxed conditions in the protected bay to thrilling and adventurous diving around the tip of Bangko-Bangko Peninsula and further to the South. This makes diving suitable for both beginners as well as advanced divers.

Located about 60 kilometers South West, from Mataram, capital of West Nusa Tenggara, it’s an easy 1.5 to 2 hours’ drive to get to Sekotong Bay area. From the neighboring island of Bali, you can either take a 20 minutes flight to Lombok International Airport or take the ferry from Padang Bai harbor in Karangasem, Bali to Lembar Harbor in Lombok. From the airport, it’s about an hour’s drive, while from Lembar Harbor the trip will take only about 30 minutes.

Diving Spots in Sekotong Bay

Located near the island of Gili Nanggu, the Hadiah Reef or literally meaning ‘present’ reef, it is truly a gift of nature where divers can find an array of hard and soft corals, and most likely to be greeted by Lionfishes, Sergant fishes and many different species of Nudibranch. For beginners, the Gili Kura-kura dive spots located not too far from the shore with hardly any currents is the best place for an encounter with some of the unique sea dwellers such as Moorish idols, wrasses, spider and porcelain crabs, and slipper lobsters.

The waters around the islands of Gili Gede, Anyaran, Renggit, and Layar, are also filled with numerous underwater splendors. The sloping area west of Gili Renggit is trulu a paradise for Macro-photographers. Here, the reef consists of huge table corals and other colorful hard and soft corals filled with a collection of Nudibranches, cleaner shrimps, different species of Frogfishes, and many other fishes. The site is also a pleasant dive spot for every level of divers. The slope on the east of Gili Renggit is also a great dive site which is covered in colorful soft corals and Feather stars with lots of shrimps, glass fishes and Ghost pipefishes swimming freely. There is more than a good chance that divers will encounter Moray Eels, Cuttlefishes and Blue spotted rays on this site.

The Sunken Island is the dive site that lies along the East coast of the island and covers quite a large area that starts from a shallow water and continues sloping into terraces that get gradually deeper, to a plateau at about 24meters. The sandy bottom has an assortment of hard Coral and soft Coral gardens. The overhangs are filled with Soldierfish and Copper Sweepers. Divers will also get the chance to see a numbers of Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles as they feed on Hydroids. Along the deepest part of the site divers may also spot White tip reef Sharks, giant Trevallies and schooling Barracudas.

On the tip of the peninsula at the west end of Sekotong Bay, there are three notable dive sites perfectly fit for advanced divers. The first is the Stairs to Medang where diving can be more of a challenge with the currents, but with the reward of the opportunity to see the larger marine life. Lots of small and larger reef fish and different species of Shark swim around the waters, while the majestic Manta Rays have been frequently spotted. In the shallow part on top of the reef, Turtles and lobsters are not an uncommon sight.

The Lighthouse is the name given to the 2nd site which features a descending plateau which at 14m leads into a deep valley covered with huge coral formations. This is a place where divers may encounter schooling Mackerel, Sweetlips, Groupers, Emperors, Surgeon fish and White tip Reef Sharks.

The last of the three is the Batu Gendang and Batu Mandi Dive site. At a depth of 25m you will find massive blocks, hence the names Batu Gendang (Drum stones) and Batu Mandi (Bathing stones), scattered around. This labyrinth is home to different species of Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus) and bigger marine life such as Napoleon Wrasses, Tunas, Trevallies, Baracudas and White tip Reef Sharks.

A dive operator to contact is:
Odyssea Divers — Cocotinos Sekotong
Pandanan, West Sekotong, Sekotong, Tel. +62 (0) 81 907 972 401, +62 (0) 81 933 136 089, fax: +65 682 641 31
E-mail : info.desk@cocotinos-sekotong.com, Website: odysseadivers.com/

Accommodation in the Sekotong Bay

Fast becoming the next top destination of Lombok Island, the Sekotong area is already completed with a wide range of accommodation options ranging from modest inns to exclusive bungalows. For the ultimate secluded experience you may want to stay at the Gili Nanggu Cottages and Bungalow in Gili Nanggu Island or the Secret Island Resort in Gili Gede Island. However, along the coast of the main island are also a wide range of accommodations available. Here are some of the accommodation options around Sekotong Bay area:

Gili Nanggu Cottages and Bungalow
Tawun West Sekotong - West Lombok
Phone : (+62-370) 623 783 (+62-370) 6641777
Mobile : +62-81237972299
Fax : (62-370) 623 771 (62-370) 6640777, E mail: reservation@gilinanggu.com and frontoffice@gilinanggu.com, Website: http://gilinanggu.com/

Secret Island Resort
Gili Gede, Lombok - Indonesia, Tel. +62-818 0376 2001, E mail: secretislandresort@xl.blackberry.com, Website: secretislandresort.com/


Lombok Eco Lodges, Crocodile and Dolphin Bay Cottages
Jl. Sungai Meninting No 18, Ireng — Ampenan West Lombok, Tel. +62 (0)370 692 179, fax: +62 (0)370 692 179
Cell : +62 (0)81 907 297 232
Email: book@lombok-ecolodge.com, Website: lombok-ecolodge.com/

Bola Bola Paradis,
Jalan Raya Pelangan, Lombok NTB,
Tel. +62.81 805 787 666, Website: bolabolaparadis.com/

Cocotinos Sekotong Boutique Beach Resort
Pandanan, West Sekotong, Sekotong,
Tel. +62 (0) 81 907 972 401, +62 (0) 81 933 136 089, fax: +65 682 641 31
E-mail: info.desk@cocotinos-sekotong.com, Website: cocotinos-sekotong.com

Belongas Bay: Good Place to See Hammerhead Sharks

Belongas Bay (on the southwestern coast of Lombok, beyond Sekotong Bay and about 2 hours west from Lombok’s Kuta) is another exciting diving destination that offers the opportunity to meet some of the big fish in the Indonesian seas. The star in these waters is the fascinating Hammerhead Shark. Currently, this area is only accessible via a pretty rough road over the hills and through numerous small villages. However, for the adventurous soul, the splendor that awaits at the bay is more than just worth the trip.

The bay itself is fairly large and is sheltered and scenic with long sweeping white sand beaches and rolling green hills. But pass the narrow mouth around the tiny Gili Wayang island where the dive sites are, the sea gets rougher with a strong surge. Therefore, this is the place to be for the relatively larger marine life such as Tuna, White and Black tip reef Sharks, Barracudas, Eagle Rays and schooling Hammerhead Sharks. Considering the waters’ conditions, the bay may only be fit for advanced and experienced divers who are used to strong surge, up and down currents and negative buoyancy of water entries.

‘The Magnet’, is the name given to the furthest and most prominent dive site around the bay. This is the site where divers can encounter schools of hammerheads, as well as grey reef sharks and white tip sharks. Bear in mind that there is a season for hammerheads sighting: from June to early November. This pinnacle can be reached by boat in half an hour and is located in the open sea, rising up to the surface from 80m with waves crashing on top and over it creating a big surge that can be felt down at 15 meters. Divers need to enter the water negatively buoyant so they can go down fast to 20-25 meters where the spectacle starts. Tuna, Barracuda, schools of Mackerel swirling around, and a lot of White and Black tip reef Sharks will certainly create an awesome spectacle. It is an adrenalin rushing site only for the experienced diver.

Just a little to the east off the bay lies the tiny island of Gili Anak Ewok and also another magnificent dive site interestingly named ‘The Cathedral’. It's the second most famous dive, and features a large pinnacle with 2 main peaks. This site is notable for the schools of eagle ray sightings and other big fish such as White, Black tip and Grey reef Sharks, Tunas, Mackerels and Barracudas. There are also a lot of sea snakes gliding around, thus it is not surprising when a diver spots as many as 15 sea snakes during a single dive.

Minimum Prerequisites for diving the “Magnet” and the “Cathedral” are an advanced certification and, from November until end April, 50 logged dives, while from May until end October, 100 logged dives. The dive center reserves the right to ask for a check certificates before diving at these sites.

Aside from the Magnet and the Cathedral there are also other dive sites around the bay that offer equally fascinating splendors. Next to big fish sightings, the Gili Sarang site by the Magnet, also features incredible small creatures such as Nudibranchs, Shrimps, Scorpion fishes, Sweet lips and Surgeon fish. As the name suggests, the Boulder City in the east features a lot of big rocks that form hundreds of swim-troughs for various fish and other sea creatures. The Coral garden in the west is sheltered from the big waves and offers a relatively easy dive. All pinnacles here are covered completely with soft colorful Corals in yellow, orange and purple. Beautiful Gorgonian fans, Whip Corals and Anemones along with the sea creatures that dwell can be found here. Wollis Pinnacle is actually the closest site to the coast, and the first one divers encounter coming out of the secluded bay. It is a large rock that rises up from the sandy bottom at 20m until 5m beneath sea level and home to Nudibranches, Frog fish and Ribbon Eels, and other sea dwellers.

Accommodation and Getting to Belongas Bay

The nearest and only accommodation within the vicinity of the area is "The Lodge @ Belongas Bay" which is located on the scenically rugged south coast, in a secluded and shady beach side oasis of coconut palms, and accessible only by boat. The Lodge at Belongas Bay consists of one double bedroom and two single bedroom bungalows. Designed and situated to take the most advantage of the sea breeze and the spectacular panoramic views over the bay and the surrounding area. The accommodation is constructed from a variety of local materials that add rustic, seaside ambience.

The Lodge @ Belongas Bay: Mataram Office: PT. Buwun Mas, Jl. Amir Hamzah No. 88 Karang Sukun Mataram 83121 — Lombok — Nusa Tenggara Barat Indonesia, Tel. +62 370 645974 Fax : +62 370 644051, Website: thelodge-lombok.com. Alternately you can also browse for accommodation options around the nearby Sekotong area, or in the capital Mataram or at Kuta Beach, Lombok.

Belongas bay is located around 50 kilometers from Mataram, capital of West Nusa Tenggara and can be reached by a 3 hours’ drive by car. You can take the route from Mataram to Cakranegara-Banyumulek-Gerung-Lembar-Sekotong Tengah-Belongas. Alternately — if you feel adventurous enough- you can also use public transportation with the similar route but finish at the Sekotong terminal. Using public transportation, you have to ‘hop’ from one route to another starting with Mataram-Cakranegara route (IDR 3,000), Cakranegara-Gerung (IDR 5,000), and Gerung -Sekotong Tengah (IDR 6,000). From Sekotong, motorbike taxis are the only available options to get to the bay. Bear in mind that you will find some parts of the road still rough and quite bumpy, so better prepare your vehicles and obviously yourself.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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