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Imagine a crescent bay, turquoise in the shallows and deep blue further out. It licks a huge, white-sand beach, as wide as a football pitch and framed by headlands. It’s deserted, save for a few fishermen, seaweed farmers and their children. Now imagine a coastline of nearly a dozen such bays, all backed by a rugged range of coastal hills spotted with lush patches of banana trees and tobacco fields, and you’ll have a vague idea of Kuta’s majesty.
Southern Lombok’s incredible coastline of giant bite-shaped bays is startling, its beauty immediate, undeniable and arresting. Yet this region has historically been the island’s poorest, its sun-blasted soil parched and unproductive. These days those hills are also pocked with illegal, undocumented gold mines, which you’ll see and hear grinding away as you head west to the surf beaches.
Kuta proper consists of no more than a few hundred houses, a likeable but scruffy-around-the-edges place with a ramshackle market area, and a seafront lined with simple seafood shacks and barefoot bars (and some very persistent, if sweet, child hawkers). Its original attraction were the limitless world-class breaks within a short ride of town. For now everyone seems to be sitting on their land, but with the new airport a 30-minute ride away, the town’s real-estate agents – who are already spearheading increasing villa development – are betting on change real soon.