Perhaps you've read Eat, Pray, Love and recall that the "love" portion of Elizabeth Gilbert's book took place in Bali. Perhaps you know someone who has been to the island paradise. Either way, nothing can truly prepare you for the Indonesian version of Eden; you have to experience its magic firsthand. The Hindu island is known for its countless temples — which are always brimming with vibrant flower-filled offerings known as sari canang — and idyllic beaches. It's this blend of culture and natural beauty that makes Bali an ultimate destination for that once-in-a-lifetime trip.
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Bali offers something for every type of couple, and honeymoons there can be completely customized to your taste. For newlyweds who appreciate a lively scene, great food, lots of shopping and a dose of nightlife alongside their pool or beachside relaxation, Seminyak is a good choice. Book a private villa and make sure to visit Potato Head Beach Club by day, and La Favela for drinks by night. Echo Beach, just a bit north, is like a smaller-scale Seminyak, with waves worthy of beginner or expert surfers, lively restaurants (like Deus ex Machina and Old Man's) and well curated boutiques.
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Couples with an interest in spirituality, yoga, alternative medicine and Balinese culture should not miss Ubud, the heart of the island when it comes to rich traditions of dance, music and crafts. It's home to awe-inspiring rice terraces in the most brilliant green you can imagine, and surrounded by villages that each specialize in a different art — think villages for silver, wood carving, weaving, batik. There, the most beautiful hotel is the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan, which is as lush as it is luxurious. Try the imaginative tasting menu at Locavore, have some casual barbecue and martinis (approved by Anthony Bourdain) at Naughty Nuri's, try a vinyasa or meditation class at Yoga Barn and visit the Monkey Forest, if you don't mind the cute rascals potentially jumping on you.
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Those who seek a bit more adventure on their honeymoon can arrange to do some hiking in the dark. The climb to Mount Batur, near Ubud, starts around 2 a.m. and can be fairly intense, but the prize is reaching the summit while the glowing red sun rises over another volcano and lake in the distance. If you have a penchant for underwater activities, Amed and the east coast of Bali are ideal, since the area is known for having the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in addition to black-sand beaches. From there it's an easy fast boat ride to the Gili Islands — Meno is the most mellow, Trawangan is a party place, and Air is in between — which also boast prime diving, snorkeling, and likely the most clear turquoise water you've ever experienced.
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The Bukit peninsula, at the very bottom of Bali, is known as a surfer's paradise, with dozens of breaks, many of them fairly serious. It's also home to a town called Nusa Dua, which is full of top resorts, such as The Mulia, high-end spas and white-sand beaches. On the western side of the peninsula you'll find Uluwatu, the most famous Bali surf spot. Uluwatu Surf Villas is a romantic place to spend your nights. Plan to rent scooters to get around (don't worry, there is not much in the way of traffic here). For a fancy fish dinner, head to nearby Jimbaran for a night, or climb down the stone steps to Bingin Beach for the line of casual restaurants where you can watch the sun set and eat freshly caught and grilled seafood with your feet in the sand.
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The beaches in the Bukit are the very best in Bali, with the most beautifully colored Indian Ocean waters that range from jade green all the way to deep blue. They all require you to descend steps, which can be brutal on the way up, but again, worth it. Don't miss Thomas Beach, Balangan and Uluwatu, which you enter through a cave. If you're a glutton for punishment, head to Nyang Nyang — you could be the only people on the long, stunning beach thanks to its 300-plus steps. Get a rubdown at Tara Massage, which is not fancy but offers $6 one-hour massages that rival any five-star spa's, dine at Bukit Cafe, buy bikinis at I Love Bali and visit Single Fin for pitaya bowls, a sunset beer and bite and, each Sunday night, the biggest party on the whole island.