Photo: Exploring some of the bays around Jelenga.

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Feeling a little like the excruciatingly beautiful beach the world forgot, Jelenga is a white crescent beach that runs for mile after undeveloped mile, hidden by hills to the north and west (which also masks phone signal) from the rest of this part of Sumbawa. It is best known for the famous and worryingly (and accurately) named surf break, Scar Reef.

The beach is awfully pretty. Think pandan trees intermingled with palm trees with the odd half-collapsed gazebo, plus a few brightly painted floating fishing boats (and a few more slowly rotting into a sandy grave). The beach swerves a couple of times but largely follows an immense gentle arc.

Night night. Photo taken in or around Jelenga, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Night night. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The sunsets, with Rinjani to your right and Ekas to your left, can be spectacular. On a clear day you can see Gunung Agung on Bali. If you walk to the southern end of the beach, after the patch of mangroves, you can rock-hop around to a second smaller but secluded beach.

If that is all a bit too energetic, ask at your guesthouse about arranging a boat trip — there are secluded beaches around both the northern and southern headlands, and also some snorkelling on the main reef (behind the break!).

Go exploring. Photo taken in or around Jelenga, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Go exploring. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Off the beach, there is a good waterfall behind Jereweh town. You’ll most likely need a guide (or good directions) to find it, but it is worth the effort and kids will love it for the swimming hole. Go on weekdays (avoid Sundays) to have it to yourself.

In off-season you may well be the only person here — the first time we visited here, there was an Australian family staying in our guesthouse and that was it. Pack a book or three.

Jelenga village is more hamlet than village. The road quite literally ends here, pulling up at a stretch of sand towards the northern end of the beach. There is no phone signal and so no 3G internet in Jelenga, thanks to a bluff that blocks the antennas over in Jereweh.

Cool off at the falls. Photo taken in or around Jelenga, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Cool off at the falls. Photo: Stuart McDonald

There are no ATMs in Jelenga.

The closest village of any size at all is Jereweh, seven kilometres away, where you can get a phone signal and 3G internet coverage. There is also a BNI ATM in Jereweh. The closest real town of any size is Taliwang.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Jelenga.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Jelenga.
 Read up on how to get to Jelenga.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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