There are a few honeymoon destinations around the world that just seem to have it all. Bali, the crown jewel of Indonesia’s extensive collection of islands, is one of them. The rich, Technicolor culture—the warm, friendly Balinese are devoutly Hindu instead of Muslim like the majority of Indonesians—plays a major role in its allure, colorful flowers and scents seducing visitors at every turn. For honeymooners, though, it is a place where it’s possible to simply relax in a sublime setting (jungle or beach, your choice), do plenty of sightseeing, or get moving by engaging in a plethora of activities.
Key to planning any Balinese honeymoon: timing. There are two distinct seasons on the island, rainy and dry. The rainy season begins in November and can stretch to March, though the beginning and end are usually not as harsh with constant rain. Humidity means you’ll be glowing. The rest of the year, April to October, is much drier though still very hot. Surfers may know the ideal season for left-handed waves (which fill the island’s circumference) is during that drier time, too.
All flights land in Denpasar, which is not all that far mileage wise from anywhere, though traffic can be quite sluggish (you can relax in the backseat while a driver gets you from A to B). The ultimate Bali itinerary usually combines a couple of destinations on the small island, a sort of beach-jungle one-two punch. Many travelers spend time in Seminyak, which is lively and full of nightlife, shopping, great restaurants and nice beaches. The best bet there for a just-married duo is at Katamama, a boutique hotel where private balconies are spacious, beds are dreamy, artisanal amenities are on point and the food is memorable (don’t miss Kaum next door for a chance to taste fine authentic Indonesian cuisines, locally sourced).
Up the coast from there is Canggu, arguably the hippest ‘hood on the island. Its cool boutique and eatery-filled Echo Beach is home to the new COMO Uma Canggu, boasting impeccable views of the beaches that are perfect for beginners or experienced surfers to get out in the balmy water. The east side of the island doesn’t have those sunset views, but it does have the greatest concentration of luxury resorts per capita, see Nusa Dua, where white sandy beaches and surf are the attractions outside The St. Regis Bali Resort, The Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali, The Ritz-Carlton Bali, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort and The Mulia). North of there is the lush Fairmont Sanur Beach Hotel and even farther up the island, Amankila’s super romantic, serene villas are set just above dramatic black-sand beaches.
Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida
If looking for a little less development, Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida, technically different islands but still part of Bali, are gorgeous spots akin to the Bali of a decade ago. Accommodations aren’t quite as luxurious or food as global, but the scuba diving and snorkeling are epic (think mantas, sharks and seahorse).
On the southwestern tip of the island, there’s Uluwatu, beloved for decades by dedicated surfers and more recently becoming a luxury hot spot with the upcoming five-star openings of Mandarin Oriental, Six Senses and Jumeirah resorts (the latter is coming to Dreamland Beach near the Jimbaran area where the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is a romantic fave for its secluded villas with private pools), plus the existing favorites including Bulgari Resort Bali and Alila Villas Uluwatu, with an iconic infinity pool. Resort life at many of these usually involves staying put in your own sexy space and indulging in the spas, restaurants and bars on property. But adventurous types can also go for an Airbnb (or smaller hotel) and scooter rental to explore more on their own terms the variety of beaches and international restaurants (not to mention much cheaper massages) dotting the main road.
Obviously options are endless for the beach portion of a dream honeymoon. And the jungle bit is a no-brainer. Ubud and its nearby Sayan are inland areas that are mystical and otherworldly beautiful. Super verdant and alive with not just lizards but monkeys seemingly galore, the rainforests are surrounded by postcard-perfect rice terraces, hikes (it’s absolutely worth skipping a night of cuddling to hike up Mt. Batur for sunrise from the top), holy water temples, craft villages, and more yoga and shopping than anyone could handle in the center of town. Try a cooking lesson, bike tour or outing to a waterfall, or even see a healer. There’s plenty of culture to be had here, especially if you take in a dance performance. Hotel wise the top selections here should be the definition of “magical” in the dictionary. The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Hanging Gardens of Bali, and Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, are as life-changing as resorts possibly could be. New to the scene this year is Capella Ubud, a tented camp so plush and intimate it’ll change your mind about “camping."