There are only few flights, where the passengers start taking photos even thirty minutes before the touchdown. Approaching the Maldives however is different: when you can see the hundreds islands from above with their wonderful colours from light blue, turquoise to a shining dark blue, you have to take out your camera or smart phone and take pictures. So we have been really awake when our Turkish Airlines Flight from Istanbul touched down on Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male.
As the airport is not very large and the customs and immigration people are very friendly and efficient, we headed quickly towards the exit. Immediately we spotted our host from JA Manafaru with a wooden sign who was smiling at us. He took over the luggage and we went directly to the check-in of Trans Air Maldivian, who would bring us directly to the island of Manafaru. We just had to wait a few minutes, while the team from JA Manafaru was handling the check-in process. We the boarding passes for the seaplane, we were guided to the JA Manafaru Airport lounge. Once arrived in the lounge (which is a separate part of the airport lounge) we had the chance to refresh, have something to eat and enjoy a first view on the blue water and the boats around the airport (which is located on an own island).
As we have been the last JA Manafaru guests for the day that have arrived, we have some refreshments as the JA team picks us up and transfers us to the seaplane departure terminal. The seaplane airport looks like a harbor and instead of boats, yachts and trawlers, you find only seaplanes, ready to bring us to JA Manafaru, which is located 75 minutes north of Male.
The flight is spectacular! Together with eight other guests we enjoy the view of the hundreds of atolls, the white beaches, light and dark blue Indian Ocean. Very impressive!
70 minutes later the plane does a low pass over the island and we can see our hosts waiting at the jetty. As smooth touchdown in the turquoise water and we have arrived in JA Manafaru – paradise is waiting for us!
The whole guest team is waiting for us at the jetty and picking up all the guests with local music and a refreshing drink. What a start! Here we are also introduced to our host during the stay (although every single team member of JA Manafaru behaves every single second to treat you as a guest). Imran is our host, good soul, organizer, driver, a walking lexicon (he knows everything about the Maldives and answers so friendly and patiently all of our questions) and the best concierge you can imagine.
Imran is driving us (yes we drive with a nice golf cart) to our Beach Bungalow and gives us some time to arrive. The bungalow is fantastic, a huge living and sleeping room, that can accommodate easily a family of 4 persons. The bathroom is huge and partially open and has its own little pool and and a large day bed to chill. The rooms are cleaned perfectly and equipped with everything you need. We even find our beloved Nespresso machine here and enjoy the fist cup outside in the white sand with a stunning view over the crystal clear blue water.
For lunch and dinner there are seven restaurants to choose from.
Our breakfast is served at the Kakuni restaurant, which is located close to the reception and has a wonderful view over the beach. The buffet in the morning is spectacular and the service of all the people just impressive. Just relax and enjoy your coffee or tea with some breakfast of your choice. European or Asian taste, freshly baked bread, fruits, juices, eggs in any form… And if you can not find, what you would like to eat, the kitchen team will do everything to make you happy and find a solution.
In the evening you can also have dinner at Kakuni. A wonderful buffet offers you a huge variety of dishes from around the globe. Special nights will also allow you to taste local food and listen to live music.
The “Ocean Grill” restaurant is serving local seafood and delicious meat, which is freshly prepared on the live grill. Ocean Grill is located right next to the beach and we could put our feet into the sand and listen to the sound of the waves. Sitting under palm trees and enjoying the tasty meal there was really impressive. For kids they always have a special menu with a selection of different meals or you can also ask for a special request and the cooks are always happy to help. All restaurants have also a very good selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, which make every lunch or dinner a fabulous experience.
The White Orchid Restaurant was our favourite. The restaurant is set on the beach over the Indian Ocean and you can watch the fishes swimming beneath you. Serving Japanese, Chinese and Thai specialities, we have been amazed by the selection and quality of Sushi and Sashimi. As an additional attraction, there is a Teppanyaki table, where you can enjoy a little show and have a wonderful experience combined with freshly prepared food just in front of you. Something you have to try! At least once!
A very special experience is the cellar. It is a restaurant located below sea level, which keeps a very good athmosphere for all the prestigious bottles of wine. The candle lit romantic wine cellar offers private dinners and wine tastings as well as the famous Wine Cellar Dinner with the Chef himself. An evening you will also not forget.
Another nice spot is the resort pool in the middle of the island. Just in the middle of wonderful palm trees and exotic nature, the Andiamo pool offers you the perfect way to relax. And in the evening, the surrounding creates a very special and romantic atmosphere. The Mediterranean kitchen offers a wide variety of home-made past, pizza and tasty salads
Our accommodation is the spacious and impressive water villa “555”. The exclusive villa is positioned on the northern tip of the island and gives a spectacular 180 degrees view over the crystal blue colored Indian ocean.
The Grand Water Villa with two bedrooms has a fantastic infinity pool, which lets you relax during the day and gives you the full privacy of a standalone property in the middle of the water.
The villa comprises 350 square meters of rest and peace with a little kitchen, a large living room an additional rest room and two bath rooms with an astonishing view over the sea.
From the living room and the sleeping rooms, you have direct acces to the outdoor deck with sunchairs and dining table and the access to the sea for swimming and diving.
The Grand Water Two Bedroom Suite with private infinity pool is ideal for families of up to four adults with one child and one infant or five adults and one infant.
The Grand Water Two Bedroom Suite with private infinity pool also features:
Complimentary daily water
Complimentary fruits upon arrival
Complimentary non-motorised water sport activity per day
Dedicated suite host
In-suite private bar
Selection of tea
Flat screen TV and satellite channels
Portable phone with IDD
24 Hour room service
Whilst you can relax on the white beaches around the island of Manafaru or enjoy the two large swimming pools that are located on the island, there are several possibilities to enjoy:
The dive center offers everything you need, be it a never forget experience on the island or a whole day guided diving tour. The dive team is always very helpful and organizes diving tours for all levels and experiences. The diving courses are offered even in several languages, which makes it very easy to follow and to visit the underwaterworld of Manafaru very quickly.
All non-motorised water sport gear is offered as a courtesy by JA Manafaru, be it windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddling (SUP) or catamaran sailing. If you like to go a little bit faster, you can enjoy activities like jet-ski, wakeboard, mono-ski, knee-board or water ski. The friendly staff did a great job and was always present to help.
The tennis court offers the possibility to play some balls during your stay. Rackets and balls can be lent out from the JA Manafaru team.
If you prefer a private training session in the fitness center, this is also possible and you can train during your holidays to come back relaxed and fit.
After the end of our stay, it was really tough to leave the island with all its beauty, the magnificent service, the sincere kindness of the staff, the astonishing beauty of the landscape, the white beaches and the blue sky, the crystal clear and turquoise water, the fantastic management and last but not least our wonderful guest manager Imran. We had to enter the sea plane, get a last view on the resort from above and see it disappear in the distance…
But one thing is for sure: we will be back next year!