Bali vs Maldives: Which is the Better Honeymoon Destination for Couples?

By Eva Johnstone

Debating Bali vs Maldives for your honeymoon? Featuring beautiful beaches, tropical weather, luxurious resorts and aquamarine waters, both island paradises are dream worthy honeymoon destinations. However, it can be difficult to sort through the information and decide where to take the trip of a lifetime. 

Our comparative guide examines the costs, places to visit, foods, weather and things to do to help you answer the question “is Bali or Maldives the best honeymoon destination for me?”

Bali vs Maldives: an Overview of 2 Island Paradises 

The view from Nusa Penida with a palm tree, cliffs and blue ocean.

Bali: The Island Of The Gods

Located in the expansive Indonesian archipelago, Bali is a large island famed for its picturesque beaches, lush rice fields, stunning resorts and vibrant culture. At its widest point, this tropical island is 153 kilometers across with endless possibilities for exploration.

While Maldives is a Muslim country, Bali is predominantly Hindu. Floral offerings on the streets, colorful ceremonies and ancient temples add to the beauty that attracts honeymooners to Bali. 

In the center of the island, Mt. Agung towers above, while the beaches of the south are famed for their chic pool clubs and exciting parties. Surfers flock to the powerful waves of Uluwatu, while honeymooners can enjoy fantastic food at boutique cafes and lovely beaches. 

However, those seeking the real Bali must travel up to Sidemen, a community nestled in the Balinese countryside that has maintained its traditions and exceptional natural beauty. While Ubud may be the most famous non-beach destination in Bali, Sidemen is the most breathtaking and a hidden gem for your discovery.

Maldives: The Flower Of The Indies

Maldives, also called “the Maldives”, is an island nation located to the Southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Famous for its romantic overwater bungalows, aquamarine waters, white sand beaches and underwater scenes, Maldives is a popular honeymoon destination.

There are more than 1200 atolls or islands in Maldives that vary in size from small sandbars to huge pieces of land with bustling cities. Unlike Bali, the atolls in Maldives are non-volcanic and flat. Some feature dense jungle, while others have clumps of palm trees or just white sand. 

Scuba divers flock to the 23 dive sites surrounding Ari Atoll to swim with whale sharks, sting rays, hammerhead sharks and vibrant sea fans. While those seeking relaxation and romance can enjoy a candlelit dinner on a private island or cool off in the plunge pool of an overwater villa.

Most of the honeymoon resorts are located on their own private islands and offer curated experiences such as cooking workshops, deep sea fishing, yoga classes, sunset cruises and movie nights under the stars.

A couple swim in a waterfall with palm trees and jungle in the background.

Bali vs Maldives: Things to do in Bali

Discover a Secret Waterfall in Sidemen – Hidden at the end of a jungle path, overlooking the lush Sidemen Valley, Gembleng Waterfall cascades down the cliffs before forming three levels of natural pools. 

Hike Mount Batur at Sunrise – From the caldera of this impressive volcano, hikers can take in 360-degree views of Bali, Java and the surrounding ocean. You can enjoy a cup of Bali coffee, while watching the sunrise chase away the dark. 

Relax on a Pristine Beach – Although Maldives is not known for individual beaches, every local in Bali has a favorite beach. These are our favorites: Virgin Beach (Karangasem), Atuh Beach (Nusa Penida), Bingin Beach (Uluwatu), Batu Bolong Beach (Canggu) and Dream Beach (Uluwatu). Make sure to check the ocean conditions before entering the water!

Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud – Spend time with long-tail macaques as they go about their daily lives at an ancient Hindu temple in a nature sanctuary. Make sure you leave your snacks in the car or they’ll pull them right out of your backpack! 

Take a Flower Bath – Indulge in the ultimate Bali spa experience: a luxurious bath filled with fragrant frangipani and other tropical flowers. It’s the perfect way to end a spa day, following a traditional Boreh scrub and a Balinese massage. 

Stay in a Private Pool Villa – Enjoy a taste of the finer things and treat yourself to a stay you won’t forget. The Rice Barn Villa at Samanvaya offers panoramic views of the countryside from the plunge pool and breezy living area.

Swim with Manta Rays – Whether you are a snorkeler or a scuba diver, you can see manta rays in the deep waters surrounding Nusa Penida. The best time to witness these majestic creatures is between August and October. 

Book a Cooking Class – Learn how to cook Balinese dishes, ranging from succulent Sate Ayam (skewered chicken grilled over coconut husks) to fragrant Balinese curries. At our resort, we offer a cooking class that includes a walk to klungkung market (price 650 IDR).

Shop ’til you Drop – Take a piece of Bali home with you in the form of expertly woven textiles, hand-painted sarongs, macramé wall hangings, carved hardwood bowls, artisan silver jewelry and clothing created by local designers. For a sampling of high-quality local goods, check out our boutique, The Gallery.  

Spend the Night in a Treehouse – Make your childhood dreams a reality with an overnight stay in a luxury treehouse with thatched roofs, swings, plunge pools and outdoor bathtubs. For incredible views over the rice fields of Sidemen, stay at Laputa, “the Bamboo Castle in the Sky”. 

Experience a Water Temple – Purify your body, mind and soul at Pura Tirta Empul, a regal water temple hidden in the misty jungle 30 minutes outside of Ubud. 

Bali vs Maldives: Things To Do In Maldives

Go Island Hopping – If you want to explore the secret beaches and uninhabited islands, hop on a dhonis (a traditional Maldivian boat). You can also arrange to spend the day on a private island complete with sunbeds and shade or partake in a picnic lunch beneath the palm trees.

Tour Maldives by Helicopter – Take in the views from above: the shallow seas dotted with islands and the stunning architecture of some of the world’s most beautifully designed resorts. 

Dine in an Underwater Restaurant – Watch brightly colored fish, sharks and even sea turtles cruise by as you dine 6 meters below the surface. Although there are several underwater restaurants in Maldives, Ithaa is the most famous. Dinner reservations are romantic, but you can see more marine life during lunch time.

Explore the Marine World – An incredible variety of marine life calls Maldives home, including manta rays, sting rays, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, whale sharks and spinner dolphins. Take the opportunity to get your PADI scuba diving certification to see the coral reefs up close or snorkel from the beach. 

Stay in an Overwater Bungalow – While Bali is famous for its exotic, private villas, Maldives is known for overwater bungalows. Imagine snorkeling directly from your porch and relaxing in a hammock with only the breeze in your hair. 

Have a Candlelit Dinner on a Sandbar – Picture this: you and your new spouse take a small boat to a private island while the sun sets over the water. As you near the beach, you see a table set aglow with candles, roses scattered across the sand and a delicious spread of local delicacies awaiting you. 

Discover the Glowing Beach on Vaadhoo Island – Watch as bioluminescent plankton set the waters aglow with a soft, blue light. Make sure to visit during a new moon between July and February for a better chance at seeing this incredible phenomenon. 

Spoil yourself at the Spa – After a day exploring the atolls or simply relaxing in your bungalow, indulge in a coconut oil massage by the sea. 

Enjoy Water Sports – Most of the activities in Maldives revolve around the ocean, including deep sea fishing, jet skiing, kayaking, surfing, fly boarding, stand up paddle boarding, waterskiing and kitesurfing. 

A woman wearing a red dress and a man wearing white pants stand on the edge of an infinity pool with a mountain and huts in the background.

Bali vs Maldives: What Are The Best Places To Stay In Bali?

Sidemen – If you are seeking Bali at its most authentic, the lush Sidemen countryside is the place to be. Featuring emerald rice fields, winding backroads, views from the sea to Mt. Agung and some of the most welcoming Balinese people, Sidemen is a hidden gem.

Our adults-only resort offers a honeymoon package, which includes airport pickup, our Romance in the Valley spa package, 30 minute reflexology massages, a private 3-course dinner served by your personal butler, guided trekking and floral decorations in your room (price: 6,500,000 IDR – room not included). 

Nusa Dua – Known as the “honeymoon vacation destination”, Nusa Dua is a seaside area home to most of the flagship resorts in Bali. Think Hilton and Marriot as well as other luxury resorts only found in Bali. This is an ideal honeymoon destination for couples seeking 5-star service, gorgeous beaches that are great for swimming and beautiful facilities.

Nusa Penida – Located off the coast of Bali, this island is relatively undeveloped and a place for the adventurous at heart. Rent a motorbike or hire a driver to explore the rugged coastline. You can climb Robinson Crusoe-esque treehouses, visit a massive temple underground or swim in waterfalls as they cascade into the ocean. This is also a great place for divers. 

Uluwatu: The rugged cliffs and crashing waves of Uluwatu draw surfers from around the world. Whether drinking a mango smoothie in a rustic café, shopping the racks of local designers or simply lying on Bingin Beach, there is something for every couple in lovely Ulu.

Ubud – Known as the wellness capital of Bali, Ubud offers yoga classes in stunning rice fields, plenty of vegetarian options and gorgeous temples. For those seeking the Eat, Pray, Love experience, Ubud is the place to go. Whether you stay in a simple guesthouse, a treehouse in the jungle or a luxurious resort overlooking the rushing river, you will find your bliss. 

Gili Meno – Although technically Gili Meno is not part of Bali (it’s in Lombak), many honeymooners add this tiny island to their Bali itineraries. As the smallest of the Gili Islands, Gili Meno can be circumnavigated on foot and has a more relaxed, romantic atmosphere than Gili Trawangan. Meno House offers adult-only honeymoon accommodations as well as horse rides on the beach, amazing snorkeling and 5-star comfort.

Bali vs Maldives: there is an island with white sand beaches, palm trees, blue skies and overwater bungalows.

Bali vs Maldives: What Are The Best Places To Stay in Maldives?

Ari Atoll – This atoll is ranked one of the most beautiful places in Maldives and includes over 80 coral islands. While some are covered in shady palm trees or lush greenery, others are simply expanses of pure, white sand. Divers can visit 23 world famous dive sites and can see whale sharks year round. However, the best time to see them is between August and September. 

North Malé Atoll – This is the location of the main international airport and home to over 80 small islands with countless resorts. For couples who don’t want to travel to the more remote islands, but still want to experience the “one island, one resort” concept, North Malé Atoll is an excellent choice. Visitors can also explore Malé, the large capital city, and visit the fish markets, sample local dishes and see the regal mosques. 

Noonu Atoll – In some ways, this resort island is the Nusa Dua of Maldives. It is a famous honeymoon destination due to its extravagant resorts and perfect for honeymooners on a larger budget. Similarly, many high-end resorts have flagship hotels here. The sunsets are incredible, the over water bungalows are magazine worthy and there are many couple-friendly activities. 

Baa Atoll – This island destination is ideal for scuba divers. If your dream is to snorkel or dive with manta rays, you will love staying here. Between June and November, hundreds of manta rays flock to the warm waters of Hanifaru Bay to feed on plankton. This migration is truly one of the most spectacular events anyone can witness in Maldives. 

One Resort, One Island Destinations – While the accommodations in Bali are located on one large island (plus Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan), the resorts in Maldives are spread out over 1000 islands. This has led to the “one resort, one island” concept, which features an intimate island with only one resort. When picking a destination in Maldives, it can be easier to choose a resort that fits your needs instead of an island that you like. Gili Lankanfushi – has 45 thatched-roof bungalows and provides the best “barefoot luxury” experience. Guests can spend the day relaxing in the pools or enjoying the solitude. 


Bali vs Maldives: the Food

Both cuisines utilize fresh seafood, coconut and seasonal fruits. However, Balinese dishes incorporate indigenous techniques and ingredients with Chinese, Indian and Javanese influences. On the other hand, Maldivian cuisine takes cues from Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. 

Bali vs Maldives: Is The Food Spicy?

Balinese food can sometimes be spicy for Westerns, but it is on the lower end of the spice spectrum when compared to other Southeast Asian cuisines. Traditional Maldivian food is often quite spicy; however, the food found in resorts is usually prepared for international tastes. 

Sate lilit, white rice and sambal matah on a red plate with a blue cloth on the table.

Bali vs Maldives: How Is The Food In Bali?

Balinese food is rice-based and many dishes include spiced meats, grilled seafood, fried tempeh, sautéed vegetables and spicy sambals (a condiment similar to a salsa or a slaw). Popular dishes include:

  • Nasi campur (rice topped with a variety of sambals, spiced meats, vegetables and egg)
  • Nasi ayam (chicken fried rice)
  • Grilled fish such as snapper, tuna or barracuda
  • Sate lilit (minced chicken, pork or fish mixed with coconut and spices grilled on a lemongrass stalk) 
  • Barbequed pork ribs

Bali vs Maldives: How Is The Food In Maldives?

Starches (sweet potato, breadfruit, rice and cassava), coconut and seafood (specifically tuna) are the main ingredients in Maldivian cuisine. Popular dishes include:

  • Guhla (a dumpling stuffed with spiced tuna, shallots, coconut and chilis)
  • Kulhi boakibaa (a savory fish cake made with smoked tuna, ginger and shredded coconut)
  • Steamed lobster
  • Boshi Mashuni (a fresh salad made with banana flowers, lime, spices and seafood)
  • Mas Riha (a fragrant fish curry)

Bali vs Maldives: The Transportation 

Getting around Bali: Transportation in Bali is easy and inexpensive. When traveling between destinations, you can book a private driver and stop at attractions along the way. Once you reach your resort or guest house, rent a motorbike to see the true beauty of Bali. However, it is important to note that you need an international driver’s license to legally drive in Bali.

Getting around Maldives: If you want a budget friendly way to explore Maldives, you can take the local ferries, which are inexpensive and will take you to all the inhabited islands. However, the schedules are unreliable and the journey is uncomfortable. The best option is to travel by seaplane to your resort and then explore neighboring atolls by private boat. 

Maldives vs Bali: The Cost

Generally speaking it is cheaper to honeymoon in Bali than in Maldives. This is due to several factors.

  • There is a greater variety of resorts in Bali with mid-range prices. However, resorts in Maldives tend to be on the higher end of the price scale with many offering pricey, all-inclusive options. 
  • Transportation in Bali is quiet cheap and the distances are not far. Comparatively, most honeymooners travel by seaplane in Maldives, which can cost between 430 AUD and 1000 AUD per person per flight. Private drivers in Bali charge between 20 AUD and 150 AUD depending on the destination and time on the road. 
  • In Bali, local food options are readily available even for guests staying at a high-end resort. Most of the honeymoon resorts in Maldives are on private islands or islands with few businesses, which means you can only order food from the resort’s restaurants.

Maldives vs Bali: When is the Best Time to Visit?

Bali: Like any tropical destination, Bali has a dry season and a rainy season. If you want to enjoy a beach holiday with lower temperatures, sunny weather and not too much of a crowd, the best time to visit is June or September. 

Maldives: February and March are the best months to visit Maldives to enjoy perfect beach weather. However, these are also busy months with lots of tourists from Europe escaping the cold weather. If you plan a visit in April, you will avoid the crowds and miss the rainy season months between May and August. 

Bali vs Maldives: Let’s Wrap it Up

Regardless of which destination you choose, we promise that your honeymoon will be an unforgettable experience for you and your loved one. We hope you have enjoyed our comparison of Bali vs Maldives, and that you have learned something new. We look forward to welcoming you to beautiful Bali and please reach out if you have any questions about our honeymoon package, accommodations, wellness services and dining