Photo: One of the bays north of Kertasari.

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Set northwest of Taliwang, Kertasari Beach is a long sweeping white-sand beach with some spectacularly appointed islands and bluffs, no less than eight surf breaks and a series of stunning and undeveloped beaches a short bumpy motorbike ride to the north.

If you’ve ever been to Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan off the coast of Bali, you’ll recognise the smell of seaweed farming as you roll through the little village of Kertasari, which sits at the southern end of the bay. When you reach the T-junction, take a right and follow the beach road, which runs for much of the length of the beach.

Looking across to Gunung Rinjani from Kertasari Beach. Photo taken in or around Kertasari, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Looking across to Gunung Rinjani from Kertasari Beach. Photo: Stuart McDonald

With Gunung Rinjani towering in the distance and three islands closer to shore, the beach views are just stunning. You can surf straight out front of the beach or at any one of the surrounding breaks, which cater to surfers ranging from competent to expert. The area’s most famous break is Northern Rights, which only works when really big swells are rolling in. But surfing is on hand somewhere throughout the year with at least eight different breaks to try out.

Despite the limited range of accommodation the beaches — both Kertasari and those to the north — warrant visiting here on a daytrip, even if you’re staying south at Jelenga (about an hour away by motorbike). At the time of writing in mid-2016, there was just one proper hotel, though you could check house rental websites for other possibilities.

Totally overdeveloped. Photo taken in or around Kertasari, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Totally overdeveloped. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Eating is limited to the hotel, but there are a couple of friendly beach bars at the northern end which, while offering coffee only, will organise beer if you ask. We particularly liked welcoming and fun Ardi, who runs Kelly Cafe (named after surfer Kelly Slater).

If you don’t surf, don’t fret as we were told there is decent snorkelling off the northern tip of the island just offshore (you can kayak there) and the beaches to the north are just lovely — they’re worth the effort to reach even if you decide to walk (pack lots of water).

There are at least five beaches running north from Kertasari, and all are reached by motorbiking along the dirt road that continues on from Kertasari Beach. The road can be steep, slippery and badly rutted in places, so novice motorcyclists should ride carefully or consider hiring a bike with a driver. Each beach is reached via a short beach pathway and all have at least some shade.

Damn. Photo taken in or around Kertasari, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Damn. Photo: Stuart McDonald

From Whales and Waves it takes about 20 to 30 minutes or so to reach the trailhead for the fifth beach, from where you’ll need to park your wheels and follow the trail between the corn farm and the headland. We didn’t have the energy to climb the headland — if you do, please send us a photo — we imagine the view to be terrific.

While “beach five”, the long white crescent that runs out to the headland, is perhaps the most impressive, “beach three”, with its golden squelchy sand and tantalising waters, was our personal favourite. We didn’t try snorkelling at any of the beaches, but from the various viewpoints it looked quite promising. Be wary of currents and surf conditions before snorkelling.

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There is not much to Kertasari save the road running the length of the beach. There are no ATMs in Kertasari — the closest are in Taliwang, where there are plenty. Same goes for police and hospital. There is a phone signal and a patchy 3G signal.

Essential beach exploring equipment. Photo taken in or around Kertasari, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Essential beach exploring equipment. Photo: Stuart McDonald

As with all the beaches in this part of Sumbawa, peak surfing season is June, July and August.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kertasari.
 Read up on how to get to Kertasari.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Kertasari? Please read this.
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