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There are two things that put Maluk on the map: arguably one of the best waves in Indonesia, Super suck, and one of the largest open-pit mines in the world, the Batu Hijau copper-gold mine. The mine began producing ore in 2000, but has been dogged by ownership and operating issues. Its practice of dumping tailings from the mine at sea and waste rock in the jungle has attracted considerable controversy. At the time of writing in mid-2016, the mine was not operative, pending a buyout by a domestic conglomerate.
Unlike the mine, the waves keep rolling in. Super suck remains one of Indonesia’s absolute premium waves and in surfing season it can be hard to get a bed here. Maluk is more than a wave town though. The municipal beach is a glorious white-sand crescent that stretches for more than a kilometre. Save some restaurants at the centre and a cluster of very sketchy karaoke bars towards the northwest end of the beach, it remains utterly deserted. Protected by an offshore reef, the beach is a good one for sunbathing and swimming, especially at the far northern end away from what little development there is on the beach.
Unfortunately, someone decided to build a retaining wall with a massive “Maluk Beach” sign right in the centre of the beach to “protect” the warungs that serve up cheap lunches and dinners. The wall is shoddily built (and poorly placed) and had already started to collapse, littering the beach in broken concrete when we passed through. One day, people will learn not to build on the dunes. For now, the rest of the beach is fine.
Maluk town itself has all the charm of a truck stop. Aside from the beachfront grazing zone, there are a few off-beach places to eat along with some decidedly grimy hotels. There is however a collection of excellent places to stay on the southern headland, a five- to 10-minute ride from downtown. From there, Maluk reveals its true beauty, with a staggering, almost Jurassic-like appearance as the waves roll in by the northern headland.
Unless you happen to know a miner who can get you a pass, the entire mine site is off limits. Members of the general public will need to satisfy their curiosity with Google Earth to get a good idea of what an enormous hole in the ground looks like.
Just over the headland to the north of Maluk is Benete, which hosts the mine’s wharves and primary loading facilities. While this is of just about zero interest to travellers, there is also a public wharf here which runs a ferry service twice-daily to Lombok, landing at Kayangan by the main Labuan Lombok pier. While the fast ferry that runs from here is more expensive than the ferry to Poto Tano, it will save you a lot of time to come this way, rather than crossing at Poto Tano and making your own way down by bus. See the transport page for fare and timetable information.
Maluk is little more than the main drag (Jalan Raya Maluk) running north-south through the middle of town, with a handful of crossroads running down to the beach. The B Hotel in on the main road (keep an eye out for the clearly signed restaurant on the east side of the road) and the Maluk Resort is a block off the main road towards the beach. Neither of these are really recommendable unless you can’t get a room at Merdeka or Maluk House. As you leave town to the south, just as the road starts to climb there is a road off to the west — take this to reach the headland accommodation.
There are ATMs along the main road, a few minimarts and motorbike repair shops — Maluk is really a bit of a blink and you’ll miss it kind of place.
By Stuart McDonald.
Last updated on 27th November, 2016.
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