THE fabulous south coast of Lombok, with sweeping bays and craggy headlands protected from the full force of the Indian Ocean swells by colorful coral reefs, finds its most 'urban' expression in the little community of Kuta (or Kute: this side of the Wallace Line the spelling is optional), around 30 kilometers south of Praya in the Central Lombok lowlands.
It is the major centre of tourism development on the south coast, but still a sleepy place of only a few permanent residents. It's a great place for Lombok-made clothing and artifacts. And it is also the base for exploring Lombok's southern beaches and the many points of interest in the region.
An easy 90-minute drive from Senggigi, Kuta makes for a wonderful day trip from other points in Lombok, or indeed an alternative holiday destination for sun lovers. The four-star Novotel Lombok is there to provide a definitive range of creature comforts.
Kuta and the surrounding region also has an international reputation for some of the best surfing destinations in South-East Asia and it is here that the Indian Ocean's regular big swells form great surf breaks and offer fantastic vistas of cliffs, headlands and beaches carved out of the southern coastline.
Driving down to the south coast, you pass through small farming villages and notice the different geography of this part of the island.
The north is more lush and green, with mountain ranges to catch the clouds and trap the rain, whereas the south is much drier, with smaller mountains and large areas of flat land.
Fields of tobacco, corn and peanuts line the roadsides and farmers till the fields using ploughs pulled by large water buffalo.
Just before arriving in Kuta (the final section is through coastal hill country that abounds with Lombok's east-of-the-Wallace Line wildlife), the road passes two traditional Sasak villages, Sade and Rambitan.
On the east side of the road is Rambitan, a village that caters to tourists and has authentic clusters of thatched lumbungs, traditional rice barns. On the west side of the road is Sade, an authentic hilltop village with the oldest mosque in Lombok, Masjid Kuno.
Both villages are interesting examples of traditional Sasak architecture and communal living within the compounds, where life continues as it has for centuries.
Residents, who act as guides for a small fee, encourage walks through either of these villages and are happy to share their lifestyles with visitors.
The south coast itself provides plenty of opportunities for exploring beaches and coastal scenery of breathtaking beauty.
Surfers congregate in Kuta to be near the great surfing spots in the region. It is easy to hire a board and surf guide from here to learn surfing or, for experienced surfers, to access the more challenging surf breaks in the area.
There is a good variety of hotels and restaurants for all budgets in Kuta to make a stay enjoyable.
Steeped in history and legend, the south coast is a fascinating area to visit, whether your interests are historical, cultural, or just for the opportunity to see and explore some of the most beautiful and pristine coastal scenery in Indonesia.