Senggigi Beach, located on the western side of Lombok, Indonesia, won’t win any beauty pageants with its opaque water and dull brown sand (see photo above). But its gentle swells sure are enticing to amateur surfers. Post up at the crumbling sea wall to watch the scraggly-haired teens do their worst, just meters from leathery fishermen standing waist high in the surf. For more serious waves (and surfers), try Kuta Beach, Gerupuk, or Desert Point in South Lombok.
For a more conventionally pretty waterfront, head to Mawun Beach. The sand is whiter than what you’ll find on the west coast, the water has a pretty azure hue, and there’s not too much rubbish. On the downside, the currents are a bit strong and the hawkers are annoyingly aggressive. In the course of 45 minutes, we were approached by more than a dozen vendors. Some came back again and again, despite our repeated insistence that, no, we do not wish to buy your pineapple/coconut/bracelets/sarong. It’s a shame, too. We might have bought some of those things if the sellers weren’t so pushy.
Our advice? Go to Tanjung Aan Beach instead. Despite the seaweed that carpets half of the shoreline, despite the rubbish pulled in with every tide, and despite warnings of purple jellyfish and the little demons known as sea lice (seriously, don’t Google that), Tanjung Aan is still one of the best-looking beaches in Lombok. It’s a bumpy two-hour ride south of Senggigi on narrow mountain roads, but nothing an experienced motorcyclist or car hire can’t handle. What awaits is sand whiter and finer than anything on the west coast, with fewer pineapple and sarong hawkers than neighboring Mawun. The waves also break well in the distance, making this shallow, calm lagoon ideal for swimming—and swinging.