Why the Indonesian paradise beach Mandalika in Lombok is nicknamed the “new Bali”
Take a 30-minute drive south from Lombok International Airport and you’ll find yourself in a heavenly beach called Mandalika. Cruise the long stretch of beautiful white sand beach along the southern coast of Lombok Island and stumble upon the breathtaking view of an endless horizon.
Unlike the over-commercialized Bali, Mandalika is a 1250 hectare sanctuary with luxurious resorts, golf courses, spas and lush nature. Once surfers’ best kept secret, Mandalika – also known as the “new Bali” – is an emerging destination thanks to massive investment by the Indonesian government in tourism development.
However, it’s not just about its geographic attractions – Mandalika is also known for its lively bars and nightclubs, exhilarating racing circuits, and a myriad of water activities. There will also be a Moto GP scheduled on the island by 2021.
What to do
Mandalika is home to some of Indonesia’s finest white sand beaches including Tanjung Aan, Serenting, Gerupuk, and Seger Beach, each offering something different to visitors.
The main beach is that of Mandalika Kuta Beach which stretches for over 7 km and is where all the main activities take place – swimming, wakeboarding and all kinds of fun water sports. If you are one of those who prefer a peaceful and serene setting, head to Serenting Beach.
Gerupuk Beach on the other hand, it is perfect for fishing, swimming and surfing – particularly appreciated for its rough waves. You can also hike the hills to experience Mandalika from a different perspective. Head to Merese Hill for a much more difficult but rewarding trail, especially at sunrise (the crowds at sunset can be a bit too much for most people). Begin your expedition around 4:00 a.m. and the morning light will leave you holding your breath as you gaze out at the azure Indian Ocean.
But if you only have time for one beach, we recommend going to Séger Beach for the best of both worlds – marvel at the magnificent natural phenomenon and immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience. The vibrant Bau Nyale Festival takes place every year in the last week of February, when people flock to observe the appearance of Nyale seaworms in the first light of day. It is said that a successful catch promises good luck, but the festival is not just about picking up sea worms out of the water. The week-long festivity also includes surfing competitions, creative dialogues, a food expo and a photography competition.
While at Seger Beach, look out for Princess Mandalika, a local legend in Lombok who lives on in statue form along the beach.
What to eat
In Mandalika, it is mandatory to try the food of the Sasak tribe, the indigenous people who make up 85 percent of the island’s total population. Flaming sambal and cubes of grilled skewered beef (satay Rembiga) are as easily accessible as mie bakso and babi guling in Bali. But try something more local like bebalung (beef or mutton soup) as well as sayur nangka (jackfruit curry similar to those found in Malaysian cuisine).
One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of food stalls and restaurants in the heart of Kuta Beach. Kemangi Restaurant offers a menu that combines Western and Asian flavors using locally grown and imported ingredients. Also try Kemangi’s cocktails which are concocted with local herbs and tropical fruits.
If healthy and fresh is the name of the game, go to Kenza for a total change of scenery. Relaxing interiors are paired with soothing pastels and textures of wood and bamboo. Order anything from smoothies to superfoods to acai bowls that are perfect for your GI diet. Other cafes with a similar concept include Fine Coffee and Earth – both also offering vegan and plant-based options.
For something more upscale, head over to Restaurant Markisa for perfectly charred octopus and tasty pasta dishes. This is the best rooftop restaurant in Mandalika. Otherwise, dine at Hungry bird and taste its Lombok Curry (homemade yellow curry with tempeh or chicken, vegetables and coconut milk) as well as its Ayam Taliwang (grilled chicken marinated in a mixture of traditional Lombok spices).
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from in Mandalika. The Novotel Lombok is one of the most luxurious options and is strategically located where the busiest part of town is. The resort features traditional Sasak-style rooms and villas with private pools. Enjoy the lush tropical gardens as you stroll through the resort town overlooking the turquoise bay.
Slightly north of Kuta Beach is Origin Lombok, a gorgeous boutique-style resort that features all-white architecture amid the lush tropics. We would say check in here on the last night of your stay to just experience the art of doing nothing – basking in the sun, lying by the pool, and sipping a cocktail (or two) all day.
If you are traveling in a large group, book a luxury stay at Villa Sorgas which is located between Tanjung Aan and Gerupuk Beach. The hillside villa has an infinity pool which is also the perfect place to watch the sunset and sunrise, promising you an unforgettable and truly sublime stay.
Take a direct flight to Lombok International Airport and Kuta Beach in Mandalika is just a 30-minute drive away. You can also take a ferry from Bali from Padang Bai Port to Lembar Port in Lombok. From there you can board a bus or taxi which will take you two to three hours to Mandalika.
(Featured Image: Source)