Welcome to our ultimate Bali couples itinerary. This one’s all about cranking up the romance and getting the love flowing on the fabled Isle of the Gods. It’s all about crafting that perfect honeymoon or helping old Cupid strike true.
The good news is that doing that shouldn’t be hard at all. This corner of Indo is basically tailor-made for couples. It has shimmering beaches lapped by cerulean seas, coral gardens bursting with rainbowfish, luxurious hotels touting world-class spas, and the best sunsets this side of Santorini. *Sigh*
Our ultimate Bali couples itinerary has a total of seven spots. We haven’t crammed them all into a single week because that really would be a rush. Instead, we’ve offered a tip or two on how long we think you need in each place, but feel free to tweak that and change it up depending on where tickles your collective wanderlust the most.
First stop: Nusa Dua
However long you need to recover but three nights is good
Straight off the plane, hop in a taxi, get to Nusa Dua. The whole reason for that is to cure the jet lag in grand style, for this is the luxury hub of south Bali; a place inundated with fantastic hotels that count the full five stars.
Among them is the colossal Hilton Bali Resort ($$$), the exquisitely edgy Melia Bali ($$$), and – here’s the absolute height of the luxury – the Apurva Kempinski Bali ($$$), where monied honeymooners can really be pampered.
Hotels aside, Nusa Dua is centered on the beaches. When you wake up on that first morning you should be greeted with visions of long, sugary strands washed by teal seas. Pantai Geger, Geger Beach, is the main gathering point. It’s golden – no cliché, it really is – and has shallow swimming areas ringed by coral reefs. For more seclusion you can also head south to Pantai Sawangan, which has some peeling surf breaks on the outside and white sands on the inside.
Second stop: Jimbaran
Jimbaran whisks you off to the far side of the Bukit Peninsula from Nusa Dua. It’s actually a region rather than a specific place, but you can’t go wrong where you pick because it’s all lovely. Our specific favorites are probably Kubu Beach and Balangan Beach at the south end of Jimbaran, because they have smaller crowds and are further from the airport.
Known as the Beverly Hills of Bali, this area is almost as chic as Nusa Dua on the hotel front, so there’s loads of room to keep the luxury level nice and high. However, the main reason we think it’s worth a stop is because it allows for easy access to the famous bays just a little further south. You can tour them all in a single day, starting at Bingin, a hip surfer retreat, and ending with Padang Padang, a hidden cove with rock stacks.
The cap of the trip has to be an evening at the Uluwatu Temple. That’s the home of the Kecak Fire Dance, an uplifting and emotional journey through the Hindu epics performed by local religious troupes as the sun sets across the Indian Ocean. Talk about shortening the bucket list together!
Third stop: Seminyak
Two or three nights
Stylish Seminyak is the liveliest place you’ll stop on this ultimate Bali couples itinerary. A town of bumping beach lounges and chic hotels, it’s the area that lets you get a feel for the pulsating modern vibes of the island. One word of warning: Stay close to Seminyak Beach. The backroads here are a mass of moving traffic and tooting scooters – not so conducive to romance.
Staying by the beach also means you’ll be within easy reach of Seminyak’s top draws: The bars. These really come into their own around the golden hour but draw drinkers and revelers with all-inclusive bar packages and access to inviting infinity pools. The most famous are Double-Six to the south of the strand and KU DE TA to the north, but there are ton to pick from if you don’t feel like pre-booking.
What we also like about adding a stay in Seminyak is that it offers a ticket to the south coast resort strip. It’s the part of the island where most people will remain, and there are day trips you can do to see iconic sights like Tanah Lot, a dramatic temple on a wave-splattered island. On top of that, Kuta is close by, which is where you should head if you’re interested in taking couples’ surf lessons.
Fourth stop: Ubud
Anything from 2 nights to a full week
Ubud is a MUST for any honeymoon trips to the Isle of the Gods. It’s the most romantic place on the island in our humble opinion and has an edge of real luxury to it that lends itself to loved-up duos looking to be pampered. The trip in is a good one in itself, as you leave behind the coastal hotspots of Seminyak and party-mad Kuta and drift up through lusher lands, amid seas of emerald rice paddies.
That’s pretty much the MO for Ubud: Greenery. 10,000 shades of the stuff erupt all around, with vine-strewn jungles and murky swamps all in attendance. The great draw is the Ubud Monkey Forest, where you can wander for a couple of dollars through a mix of ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples that have been all but reclaimed by nature. It’s now home to a colony of cheeky crab-eating macaques, so watch your wallets and the all-new wedding ring!
Ubud is considered the cultural capital of Bali. It’s packed with art galleries – the prestigious Neka Art Museum is a must for anyone interested in ancient islander crafts and religious pieces – and dotted with fantastic temples – you’ll hardly find a more emotive photograph than the one on offer outside the Saraswati shrine. On top of that, the town is a mecca for vegan eating and yoga, so there’s lots of scope for relaxation and great dining.
Strangely, we’d recommend spending a lot of time outside of the main town center of Ubud. That’s not because it’s not nice. It is. It’s lovely. It’s because the best couples’ hotels are the spa hotels that have infinity pools gazing out over the rice paddies. And it’s because that’s where you find the stunning terraces of Tegallalang, one of south-central Bali’s most amazing draws.
Fourth stop: Lovina
The black-sand beaches of Lovina are a whole world away from the buzzy bays of the Bukit Peninsula and Nusa Dua. Quiet and chilled, this resort spills out of the north-shore jungles of Bali. It’s strung along a single roadway with the sea on one side and the rising mountains and rice paddies on the other.
However, the low-key vibes aside, there’s one main reason why we bring our ultimate Bali couples itinerary up here for a stint: Dolphins. Mhmm…Lovina is the dolphin-spotting mecca of the island and the whole region. Day trips leave very early for a couple of hours, taking viewers out into the Bali Sea to spot pods of the elegant creatures. The best time to do that actually matches perfectly with the dry season: May to August.
If you’re not a couple that likes taking to the waves, then a short jaunt up to Lovina is still worth it. Why? Well…the trip there, of course. This journey will take you straight through the very heart of the island. If you have time then we’d say add a few pitstops along the way as there’s LOADS to get through, including:
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple – A seriously romantic Hindu shrine set on a Balinese lake between the mountains.
- Gitgit Waterfall – One of the most iconic on the island, this roaring cataract plumes straight out of the jungles.
- Aling-Aling Waterfall – One for the daring couples out there, the Aling-Aling Waterfall is a hidden paradise in the peaks where you can dive into the cool plunge pool together.
- Jatiluwih Rice Terrace – A stop on the way up from the south coast, these terraces are some of the brightest-green in the region.
Sixth stop: Padangbai
Up to three nights
The port town of Padangbai sits on the far eastern shoreline of Bali. It’s a gritty place at heart, with fishing boats and ferries bustling in and out of the harbors en route to the Gili Islands (more on those in just a moment). However, Padangbai is also the gateway to some of the most celebrated beaches on this side of the Isle of the Gods. We recommend leaving the docks and heading to those for a snorkel and a sojourn.
The most iconic has to be Blue Lagoon Beach. It’s one headland around from the main town center but a whole world apart. The name says it all – the water shimmers a stunning shade of cerulean. Oh, and there’s pure, white sand, which is something of a rarity in these parts. There’s also another pull: The Blue Lagoon is hailed as one of the best snorkeling spots in Bali, so you can don the bubble tubes together and swim above strange brain corals where seahorses and sea turtles are regular visitors.
If you have a couple of days here, then we’d also recommend planning a jaunt just to the south of the town to see Bias Tugel Beach. That’s another stunner, offering ivory-hued powder by a turquoise bay that has some frothing waves. It’s also a short walk from the dramatic black-sand beach that runs along the south side of Karangasem Regency (worth viewing, not great for sunbathing).
Seventh stop: Gili Meno
Three nights minimum
There’s a reason we’re going to pluck you off the Isle of the Gods to finish this ultimate Bali couples itinerary and it goes by the name of Gili Meno. AKA the Honeymoon Island. Sounds about right, eh? Getting there from Padangbai shouldn’t be too hard, as the town is one of the major jump-off points for the Gilis. You’ll probably have to take the ferry to Gili Trawangan first, but make sure you carry on to Meno because otherwise you’ll be in a backpacker party haven!
Where you’re headed is the middle isle of the chain. It’s a small and sleepy place of low-lying palm forests with a virtually uninterrupted run of paradise beach up and down its western shoreline. We’re talking white sands and seas of turquoise blue – not the raw and rugged black-sand beaches that you get back on Bali itself.
Now, there are plenty of romantic things to do together here if you’re still craving activity. You could scoot down to the Gili Meno Sea Turtle Sanctuary to see conservation efforts in action, not to mention some downright sweet marine creatures. There’s also Yoga Meno, where you can pull downward dogs and channel your chakra together. Most of all, though, this island is for relaxing in lux hotels by the lapping sea and swaying coconut palms. A great way to finish.