Descend on this tropical island hideaway and let its magical blend of nature, dining and rejuvenating activities ignite the senses
This 35-acre private island may be a drop in the ocean to you, but if you’re busy researching your next great Maldivian escape, JA Manafaru provides ample motivation to stick a pin in the map.
Situated on the northern-most Haa Alif atoll, the island is easily reached via a 75-minute seaplane flight from Malé International Airport (or a thrilling speedboat ride from Hanimaadhoo Airport).
It has just 84 villas and suites – all with private pools, so you can choose to stay just steps away from the beach, or elevated over the water, without compromising anything on your tick list. The Royal Island Suite is one of the most sought-after abodes. Ideal for larger groups (it can fit up to four adults and two children, or five adults with two babies),this two-storey beach residence offers everything you need for a stand-out stay, including a private pool, and direct access to the beach where your own cosy cabana stands. Plus, the suite has private spa facilities with a treatment room for pampering around-the-clock. Simply call upon the expert therapists at Calm Spa who can tailor treatments to suit you.
Seasoned spa-goers will be keen to check out the spa itself, namely for its dedicated ayurvedic room that has been designed especially for shirodhara therapies (a calming, cleansing body therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead), as well as the massage room built for traditional Thai massages. A must-have on the treatment menu, however, is the Maldivian-inspired Manafaru Signature Ritual, which includes a refreshing coconut scrub and a coconut oil massage.
Foodies are also sure to be impressed, with seven dining experiences available. Signature restaurant White Orchid serves Asian fusion fare in an over-water setting, while you can sample the catch of the day at the beachfront Ocean Grill. If you want to stay close to your sun lounger, there are two pool-side eateries to enjoy, offering light bites and tropical drinks to keep your energy levels topped up throughout the day.
Plus, you can venture two-and-a-half metres below sea level to The Cellar, an award-winning venue offering an extensive selection of fine vintages paired with haute cuisine. Its ambient interior – think wood, stone and mood lighting – lends a romantic vibe.
Speaking of which, there are lots of active pursuits to keep you busy. Scuba diving (there’s a professional dive school with expert instructors to show you the way), water skiing, catamaran sailing, and speedboat excursions are just some of the highlights. To learn about the underwater world, visit the marine research centre Seatopia, which runs regular workshops hosted by the resident marine biologist.
Make more memories by taking part in a Maldivian cooking class, joining a dolphin watching excursion, or by exploring the island by bicycle. Children of all ages can buddy up at the supervised kids’ and teens clubs, with treasure hunts and water Olympics among the fun activities on offer, so when it’s time to be together again, you won’t be short of stories to swap.
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