Bali vs Maldives for Honeymoon Choices: Our In-depth Guide

Bali and Maldives are two of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world and with good reason. Images of sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and decadent resorts instantly come to mind. How can you possibly choose the best one?

Using our personal experience combined with good, old fashion research, we’ve created a short and snappy guide to Bali vs. Maldives to help you pick your perfect honeymoon destination.

Bali: An Overview

Tropical beach in Bali

Bali is a sizable island located within the Indonesian archipelago, in South East Asia. To give you an idea of the size, it takes about 3 hours of non-stop driving to travel the length of the island.

Whether your budget is small, medium, or large you can find something to fit your needs. However, Bali is best for couples who don’t mind a little crowd, like to get out and explore, and are willing to spend over $75 per night on accommodations.

Bali itself offers a wide range of landscapes and scenery, including rugged cliffs overlooking crashing waves, lush jungles, volcanic mountains, sandy beaches, lush rice fields, and bustling shopping districts.

Bali, also known as “The Island of the Gods”, is a predominantly Hindu province famous for its active temple life, traditional ceremonies, and vivid floral offerings.

This stunning island is a popular destination for surfing, beaching, snorkeling, jungle and rice field trekking, fine dining, scuba diving, shopping, nightlife and club hopping, yoga, spas, wellness activities, private villas, and luxury resorts. Honeymooners usually spread their time spread out over several destinations in Bali such as Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Nusa Penida, and Amed.

Note: Indonesia’s currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (not to be confused with the Indian Rupee), but Visa and Mastercard are readily accepted.

Maldives: An Overview

Beautiful beach at Maldives

Maldives is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka. While both Bali and Maldives are islands, Maldives is considerably larger and more spread out. In fact, Maldives is made up of over 1000 islands; however, only 200 are inhabited.

Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country with several beautiful mosques open for visitors in the crowded capital city, Malé. This also means that you likely won’t find alcohol outside of your resort area.

Honeymooners come to this tropical paradise for its intimate, romantic atmosphere, world-class spas, and resorts, crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, incredible variety of marine life and private dining experiences. It is a place for couples seeking seclusion who have a medium to large honeymoon budget.

Traveling between islands is often expensive and/or time-consuming so honeymooners usually pick one resort (that’s usually located on a private island) and stay there for the duration of their honeymoon.

Note: Maldives’ currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa, but all major resorts accept Visa and Mastercard.

The Ultimate Comparison

  • Most budget-friendly location: Bali
  • Most romantic location: Maldives
  • Best for diving: Maldives
  • Best for foodies: Bali
  • Most beautiful beaches: Maldives
  • Best for nightlife: Bali
  • Best for cultural activities: Bali
  • Best for resorts: it’s a tie!

Bali: The Activities

  • Go Scuba Diving and Snorkeling – Whether you are a novice or a divemaster, you can enjoy the underwater scenery in Bali. Amed and Nusa Penida are great places for diving and snorkeling.
Bali Snorkeling
  • Hike Mt. Batur – Often described as the island’s heart, Mt. Batur is located in the center of Bali and is the best place to watch the sunrise. It takes 1.5 to 3 hours to hike Mt. Batur depending on your fitness level.
  • Enjoy a Flower Bath – Imagine soaking in a decadent bath filled with fragrant tropical flowers. Our favorite flower baths can be found at Karsa Spa, Kaveri Spa at the Udaya, and Spa at Maya Ubud.
  • Shop ’til you Drop – Bali is such a famous shopping destination that people often bring an empty suitcase to fill with purchases. Hand-tailored garments, clothes from local designers, handmade leather shoes, macrame, wood carvings, artisan jewelry, sarongs, natural skincare products, home décor, and textiles are all popular items.
  • Party the Night Away – Whether you’re looking for a nightcap or want to leave the club at 6 am, there’s a place for you. La Favela, Motel Mexicola, and Deus Ex Machina are popular nightclubs, while Black Sand Brewery, La Plancha, The Sayan House, and Rock Bar are great places for a drink. On the other hand, Maldives is not a party destination.
Rock Bar Bali
  • Eat, Eat, Eat – Whether you stick to local Balinese food, sample cuisine from across Indonesia or stick to a Western menu, you will be very happy in Bali.
  • Relax at a Beach ClubEl Kabron, Ulu Cliffhouse, Potato Head, Sandy Bay, and La Brisa are our favorites.
  • Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest – Spend the afternoon wandering through an ancient forest, while witnessing the amusing antics of over 300 long-tailed Macaques.
  • Take an ATV Tour – Did you ever play Temple Run as a kid? This adventurous tour will have you living out the dreams of your childhood as you drive under waterfalls, cruise past ancient temples, and navigate muddy streams.
  • Chase Waterfalls – Munduk and outside of Ubud are the best places for waterfall lovers, but there are also stunning waterfalls in Sidemen.
Kanto Lampo waterfall
  • Book a Private Driver – If you want to check a ton of amazing places off your bucket list, you can simply book a private driver for a half or full day. Prices range from $15 to $100 depending on distance and time commitment.

Maldives: Activities

  • Swim with Whale Sharks – The underwater world in Maldives is truly incredible and, depending on the season, you can swim with some amazing creatures. May to December is a great time for scuba diving with whale sharks.
  • Stay in an Overwater Bungalow – Whether you choose luxurious accommodation or a quaint hut, a night stilted over the ocean is unforgettable. In comparison, there are few overwater bungalows available in Bali and the views aren’t as magnificent.
overwater bungalow maldives
  • Enjoy a Candlelit Dinner on a Private Island – With the sunset as your backdrop and the waves as your orchestra, this will be the highlight of your honeymoon.
  • Go Island Hopping – It’s the ultimate Maldivian experience!
  • Snorkel from your Deck – After relaxing in a hammock, simply grab your snorkel and jump in. You can expect to see many creatures, including parrotfish, clownfish, skates, and colorful corals.
  • Dive with Hammerhead Sharks – Rasdhoo Atoll is one of the best places to scuba dive with hammerhead sharks in the world due to the large schools of fish that attract predators.
Hammerhead Sharks
  • Get a Massage – There truly is no better way to experience a massage than in a private cabana, on a beach, listening to the gentle laps of the waves.
  • Go Fishing – Your resort can arrange a once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip and the chance to catch tuna, giant trevally, snapper, barracuda, and grouper.
  • Take a Sunset Cruise – Imagine sipping a glass of prosecco while you watch the sky turn a dazzling array of warm colors. You can take a private or group cruise, depending on your budget and preferences
Cruise maldives
  • Stargaze – Maldives (with the exception of bustling Malé) is an excellent place for stargazing due to the lack of light pollution and high-rise buildings. The time with the clearest skies is the dry season, which is between December and April.
  • Relax and Unwind – Unlike many honeymoon destinations, Maldives allows for complete seclusion and you truly feel a world away from your everyday life. Take advantage of this break and indulge in the peaceful atmosphere.

Bali: Where To Stay

  • Ubud – Known as “the Cultural Capital of Bali”, this inland area became extremely famous due to the book “Eat, Pray, Love”. While Ubud has a lot of tourists and the traffic can be bad, it’s a great place to shop at local markets, visit temples, hike in the rice fields, eat at amazing restaurants, and stay in a private pool villa. We recommend the following resorts: Wapa di Ume Ubud, Adiwana Bisma, Calma Ubud Suite & Villas, The Lokha Ubud Resort, and Bliss Ubud Spa Resort. Price: affordable to high.
Ubud bali
  • Nusa Dua – If you are looking for luxury resorts with all the amenities and the best facilities, Nusa Dua is for you. Most of the flagship resorts on the island are located here – Club Med Bali, The Royal Santrian, Hilton Bali Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Bali are just a few. This is also a great place to walk on long, sandy beaches and swim in the turquoise waters. Price: medium to high.
Nusa Dua Bali
  • Uluwatu – While Uluwatu is definitely a surfer’s paradise, it is also a great honeymoon destination for trendsetters and the bohemian crowd. Boutique clothing shops, chic cafes, fusion restaurants, and fitness studios line the streets to the beach. Most of the wave action in this area is quite strong, but Bingin Beach during medium tide is one of the best places to swim. Price: medium to high.
uluwatu bali
  • Lovina – Located on the far side of the island, Lovina doesn’t get the love it deserves. Here you can rent a massive villa or Airbnb for less and enjoy an exquisite sunrise from the beach. Lovina is also the best place to watch dolphins from a jukung (local fishing boat) as they break the calm waters in search of fish. Price: affordable to medium.
  • Seminyak – If you love shopping, eating at high-end restaurants, grabbing cocktails out, and dressing up for a night on the town, you will have a great time in Seminyak. Located directly next to some of the most popular beaches in Bali, this busy area is a favorite among holidaymakers.
Seminyak Bali
  • Amed – Couples who love diving and want to get away from the crowded beaches and streets of Kuta or Seminyak will love Amed. Located on the eastern coast of Bali, Amed is a string of quaint fishing villages with a good assortment of small guesthouses, laidback restaurants, and a handful of shops. This is a place to enjoy the slow life, and couples usually wish they’d added more days in Amed to their Bali itinerary. Notable dive sites include Jemeluk Bay, the Amed Wall (a vibrant reef covered in corals, sea sponges, and sea fans), and the Japanese Shipwreck. Located about 30 minutes away, Tulamben is another great destination for divers.
Amed Bali
  • Other places: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Sidemen, Canggu and Munduk.

Maldives: Where To Stay

We’ve organized this section a little differently. Instead of highlighting only specific areas, we are focusing on individual resorts because most honeymoon hotspots utilize the “one resort, one island” concept. This means that you will stay at one resort for the duration of your honeymoon, but the resort has everything you could want and more.

It’s worth noting that the quality of high-end resorts (and service) in Maldives is truly exceptional and, in many cases, higher than what is available in Bali (which is also excellent).

  • Ayada Resort – Featuring pristine beaches and tropical foliage, this resort has an award-winning spa, private pool villas stilted over the water, exciting watersports, and all-inclusive options. Price: medium to high.
ayada resort maldives
  • The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah – Located on an island with over 2,500 coconut trees, this resort truly feels like an island paradise. You can lounge on sun-kissed beaches, snorkel or sample an arrange of cuisine offered by the resort’s restaurants. Price: medium to high.
  • Kandima Maldives – Offering endless tropical views, this exotic destination is a more affordable option with a range of accommodations. Guests can also participate in yoga, listen to live music, and relax in the spa. Price: affordable to medium.
Kandima Maldives
  • Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru Resort – Situated on a private island encircled by white sand beaches, this resort delivers the ultimate 5-star experience. Surrounded by miles of turquoise water, you can experience the Maldives at its most beautiful with the most luxurious amenities. Price: high.
  • Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat – This adults-only resort promises soft, sandy beaches and authentic luxury that doesn’t take away from the beautiful surroundings. Price: affordable to high.
  • Baa Atoll – This is an entire island that is home to several noteworthy resorts and is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Baa Atoll (and the surrounding area) delivers the quintessential Maldivian honeymoon experience that most couples are seeking and is a great place for those with a medium to high budget. Reethi Beach Resort, Finolhu, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, and Kihaa Maldives are all great choices.

Bali vs. Maldives: How’s the food?

In Maldives, most honeymooners eat at the restaurants offered by their luxury resorts, which feature international menus and curated dining options. However, local Maldivian cuisine is influenced by India and Sri Lanka with plenty of seafood and fragrant spices. Kulhi Boakibaa is a savory fishcake made with shredded coconut, soaked rice, and smoked tuna – it’s a must-try!

Organic food of Bali

In comparison, the food offered in Bali’s restaurants is more varied with fusion cuisine options. For example, you can find Australian BBQs, local Balinese restaurants, boutique cafes, burger spots, sushi bars, and a ton of different Indonesian food in the same area. Balinese food tends to be less spicy than other Indonesian cuisines with an emphasis on seafood, rice, and curried meats.

Bali vs. Maldives: The Cost

Bali is definitely the cheaper option, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to splurge. In fact, some of the most expensive resorts in Indonesia are located in Bali. However, it is easy to find good mid-range accommodation options that feel ultra luxurious. Food is also cheaper in Bali than in Maldives simply because you have so many options, but, again, you can go to high-end restaurants too.

Transportation in Bali is cheaper because the area is smaller than Maldives and you can easily hire a driver. On the other hand, you must travel by boat, seaplane, or a combination of both to reach your resort in Maldives.

Bali vs. Maldives: The Best Time To Visit

Both Bali and Maldives are tropical destinations that have a dry season and a wet season. Usually, the dry season is the most popular time to visit when you can expect sunny weather, higher prices, and crowds. We always recommend visiting during the shoulder season, the time between the high season and the low season when the weather is mostly great, but the prices are lower and the beaches aren’t so crowded.

The shoulder season in Maldives is April to May and September to November. While the shoulder season in Bali is April to June and September to October.

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