Sophie Digby shares the love about a special place in southern Lombok.
At first we whispered about it together, knowing smiles and nods, then muttering in low tones we would begrudgingly share our prized information with friends looking for romantic getaways. Now at the pinnacle of Instasharing we shake our heads, but do manage to share our unique buffalo beach images to all and sundry.
Possibly one of the most famous photos to have ever come out of South Lombok is exactly that image; the one of the crescent-shaped, white sand beach with “water buffalo and herder” front and centre, with a vast backdrop of azure blue sea. Yes, that is ‘my’ beach, it is ‘our’ beach. It has been our beach for over nine years; nine years in which the kids have turned from sand snobs into adults. And we have matured enough to understand that sharing is caring – even if you don’t know who on earth is following you.
That beach, that gorgeous beach, is Selong Belanak and the place, and I mean THE place to stay on said beach is Sempiak Villas. Sempiak and Selong Belanak Beach are basically three bays to the right of Kuta Beach Lombok – if looking out to sea – and a mere 35-minute drive from the newish Lombok Airport in Praya, with flights that arrive from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Jakarta.
Divided into two parts, holiday houses and villas, the Sempiak Villas team encourage those travelling with children under the age of 12 to stay in the houses, located near the beach, where the land is flat and spacious. As opposed to The Villas, which elegantly hug the steep side of the hill – infinity pools with no fencing, complex staircases leading here and there . . . you can understand that the villas are not ideal for young families. Yet both villas and houses have easy access to the amazing horseshoe beach and, just as importantly, to the beachside restaurant Laut Biru (or Blue Sea). When they say “blue” it is usually (depending on cloud cover) a ridiculous understatement!
Five holiday homes, sleeping between two and six people, are ideal for families, generous in size and comfort, they each come complete with stereos, fridges, coffee and tea-making facilities and of course books and magazines. The community area shares a swimming pool, sun lounges, beanbags and an elevated reading and lounging space with views. A short buggy ride (two minutes) or a five-minute walk and you’re on the beach, under the shade of the trees possibly doing a “take-over” of the balé (yes, this too is ‘our’ balé!).
Six of the gorgeous villas, each with a sweeping views of the magnificent bay, high up on the hillside, sleep between two and four people, ideal for couples or friends travelling. A spacious sitting room and wrap around verandah just begs sunset cocktails or a cup of tea of course (each villa comes complete with large fridge, coffee and tea making facilities and hi-fi). Even this high up room service is still available so cocktails are also possible, although maybe an ice bucket and wine is the easier option? Of note is that Villa Kesambi has its own private pool whilst the other villas, Okep, Kokoh, Kembang, Kenanga and Kruing share the main pool slightly to the left of the hill, alongside sunbrella’d tables and sunbeds and yet again, that breathtaking view.
A recent addition to Sempiak’s inventory is Villa Karang Sempiak, the jewel in the crown. This four-bedroom property situated at the highest point of the hill, commands the view of all views (we have yet to stay in this villa so it’s still open to be claimed by any one of you). Large and self-contained with infinity pool, dining and sitting room with TV, this is where you should go with that close-knit group of friends for that milestone birthday trip or that Nyepi getaway. I suppose my question would be: ‘would I want to leave the villa? But then again why am I not at my beach?’
Food and drinks are usually the decider to get the group up and moving, and Sempiak’s dedicated beach bar and restaurant, Laut Biru, has a fabulous menu with both Asian and Western dishes. Simple and delicious. The staff is amazingly friendly and charming, and the wine list is, whilst not ample, not badly priced. Juices, beers and cocktails, they are all here, as you position yourself to look out to sea, the fishing boats lighting up for a night of fishing on the horizon, as the night sky puts on a show just to prove to you that Sempiak and Selong Belanak is as beautiful at night as it is during the day.
Why I am still unsure that I should have even told you about my beach? Thankfully, I didn’t tell anyone about the Spa!
Read more about what we think is good in Lombok … here.