February sees the arrival of the annual Bau Nyale festival. 'Bau' means to catch, 'Nyale' is the a type of sea worm. This unique tradition falls on the 20th day of the 10th month of the traditional Sasak calendar.
The festival commemorates the Sasak legend of Princess Mandalika. According to the legend, the father of the beautiful Princess held a contest for young men to fight for his daughters hand in marriage. Mandalika, opposed to fighting and bloodshed in her name, jumped into the sea, advising the Lombok people to live in peace, and promising to return on the 20th day of the 10th month. On the long awaited day, only the Nyale worm could be seen everywhere in the sea, and thus, the people believed the worm was a reincarnation of the Princess.
Kuta is now being referred to as 'Kuta Mandalika' as a homage to the tradition.
Nowadays, thousands of people swarm to the beaches surrounding Seger to the East, camping on the hillside, to catch worms at the break of dawn. They can eat them fresh, or smoke them in banana leaf first.
Official events usually run for a full week and include a surf contest, stick fighting, live music, and a parade, but the arrival of the worms may not necessarily coincide with this. If you are keen to witness this event, we advise sticking around for a full week to make sure you don't miss out!
A quick word of warning, Kuta and the surrounds will get incredibly busy at this time. Be careful on the roads, and ensure your bike is securely locked (we recommend a thick padlock around the wheel if going to stay the night in Seger - which you'll need to do as it will be impossible to remove your bike once you have parked up!)