It's not hard to find the beach cliche of white sand and blue water in Lombok — and now's the time to visit.
Two farmers and their herd of water buffalo are taking their slow walk home along Selong Belanak beach here in Lombok.
It happens every afternoon at dusk. Shafts of light are sneaking through gaps in the clouds, spotlighting the ocean and the steep hills that meet it.
The front buffalo wears a Swiss-style bell, the herd’s rear is brought up by the calves.
It’s a moment that really grabs me on this Indonesian island. Maybe it’s my affinity with most travel moments involving animals but it’s also the juxtaposition of these beasts against a beach backdrop.
The crescent stretch of Selong Belanak is along the south of the island, known for its white sand beaches and as a surfer haunt.
This beach has gone slightly up-market. Now you can stay at Sempiak Villas, the luxury wooden villas climbing Sempiak Hill. You can also stop at nearby Kuta (about a 30-minute drive away) which offers plenty of affordable villas and homestays.
Sempiak Villas’ spa and Hamptons-style Laut Biru bar and restaurant are by the beach. The white walls, blue tiled floor and spectacular driftwood and shell chandelier of the open-air restaurant is a flash of laid-back luxury in otherwise basic surrounds. Sun lounges and learn-to-surf huts line the beach, and there are plenty of travellers giving the waves a go.
The west-end of the beach is lined with Lombok’s fishing canoes or jukungs, their shade providing shelter for the odd street dog.
Unlike the black-tinged volcanic sand found around the tourist hub of Senggigi further north, the beaches to the south are pure white.
I visit Tangung Aan, an undeveloped beach less than 10km from Kuta. Beyond the construction mess of the island’s new MotoGP circuit and litter of the dirt carpark, Tangung Aan is a beach cliche of white sand and blue water.
I put the water colour down to the sand — perfectly round balls and excruciatingly ticklish to walk on.
A big rock separates two coves, an easy climb providing views either way.
With the Kuta area being touted as the next Nusa Dua thanks to the MotoGP, a visit now rather than later will pay off for those seeking the little-developed and uncrowded beaches.