Inspiration Destinations Maldives 6 Surprising Things About a Villa Stay at JA Manafaru, Maldives

6 Surprising Things About a Villa Stay at JA Manafaru, Maldives

April 4, 2023

Secret banyan groves, sumptuous dining and a sea filled with bioluminescent stars – a villa stay at JA Manafaru guarantees endless delight in one of the world’s most extraordinary places. 

Just one of two resorts in the Maldives’ unspoilt northernmost atoll, this acclaimed private island paradise – just a 60-minute domestic flight north from Malé, the archipelago’s capital – has long held a legendary status among honeymooners, divers and dreamers alike. From the first exciting moment of touchdown on Hoarafushi Island (a short speedboat from the resort) to the first moments of childlike discovery in your luxury villa, the island delivers countless delightful surprises – here are just a few of our favourites. 

Ready to book discover JA Manafaru’s magic? Check out our exclusive offer here

The island is filled with tiny secrets

Six Surprising Things About a Villa Stay at JA Manafaru

Romantic, mysterious and filled with astonishing details, a brisk walk around the island’s perimeter takes about an hour – but slow down and there are countless treasures to discover. From a traditional coconut-wood dhoni ship hidden behind white dunes to untold small, shaded groves teeming with shy hermit crabs, the resort has worked tirelessly to keep the intangible feeling of adventure alive. Resort staff hide twelve messages in a bottle daily, each containing a surprise prize for the guest lucky – or dedicated – enough to find them.  
For a desert island, there’s wildlife in abundance. Lucky geckos laze in the sun, only to shyly scuttle behind branches when approached, and exotic birds yell proudly from the treetops. For dedicated explorers, a secret, off-the-track banyan tree grove awaits, presenting the curious with such a vision of seclusion you'll swear you're the only person on the island.  

The service is relaxed but flawless 

Six Surprising Things About a Villa Stay at JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru’s all-encompassing service starts from the moment you touch down at Malé Velana International Airport – you’ll be met by smiling staff and taken to a private airport lounge to await your included, 60-minute domestic transfer to the brand-new Hoarafushi Airport. It’s impossible to subdue the electric feelings of excitement upon disembarking – by the time you reach your private, luxury transfer to the town’s small marina, you’re already in the resort’s capable hands. 

Each villa is designated a dedicated guest experience host, committed to making sure this is unquestionably the escape of your dreams. This bespoke approach to hospitality is the resort’s bedrock – your host casually checks in twice daily, handling all requests and reservations, and canny bartenders work tirelessly to learn your name and preferences, whether it’s Pina Coladas each sunset at the White Orchid or champagne mimosas with breakfast. Staff walk barefoot, are always comfortable, and every order is meticulously written and confirmed. 

The villas are simply sublime

Chic and understated, each overwater villa at JA Manafaru features traditional Maldivian design flourishes and an unswerving focus on the important things. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the arresting Indian Ocean from every side and each deck offers direct ocean access and the perfect sun-kissed oasis to enjoy a flute (or two!) of complimentary welcome champagne as the sun descends below the infinite blue. Your personal guest experience host will work tirelessly to ensure everything you need is handled, while the villa hides a wealth of luxurious amenities, including a personal coffee machine, a selection of handpicked TWG teas and completely sustainable toiletries, including toothbrushes crafted out of recycled driftwood.  

The food is unmatched in quality 

Dining at JA Manafaru may be the biggest surprise – it’s utterly unmissable. Begin your morning with breakfast at Kakuni, the resort’s oceanfront dining hub, and marvel at the sheer variety on display – fresh-caught Maldivian fish smoked in-house, a dazzling mountain of fresh fruit ready to be sliced on command and an ice-filled prosecco-mimosa station are only the beginning. You’re also free to order from the restaurant’s exceptional a la carte menu, including the mouthwatering mas huni, a traditional Maldivian breakfast consisting of smoked tuna, shredded coconut, chilli and lime, served with steaming dhal and fresh chapati.  

Lunch and dinners range from sensational to spectacular – head to Andiamo Bistro & Pool for pillow-soft burrata cheese, handmade pasta or woodfired pizza by the resort’s sprawling central lagoon, or Ocean Grill to sample a seasonal menu showcasing fresh-caught local seafood and imported Australian Angus steak, all served right on the beach. 

The house reef offers a glimpse into the extraordinary

Natural phenomena promises genuine enchantment on this paradise island, one home of the archipelago’s renowned ‘sea of stars’ – bioluminescent algae crashing onto the shoreline by night, like twinkling stars dancing brilliantly on the sand. It’s nearly impossible to capture with a camera and utterly spellbinding – a glimpse of the island’s magic that will stay with you for the rest of your life.  

The Maldives is an iconic diving and scuba spot, and the resort’s house reef – sat within a protected coral lagoon, positioned at the end of the island’s north-eastern pier – is absolutely brimming with a shimmering rainbow of marine life, including the odd manta ray and baby blacktip reef shark. Early risers eager to catch the island’s magnificent sunrise may be granted a glimpse of the elusive hawkbill sea turtle – critically endangered and the target of extensive conservation efforts – lazily drifting past like a peaceful mirage. 

The sustainability effort is real at JA Manafaru 

It's clear from arrival that the resort is committed to sustainability and conserving the Maldives’ fragile natural wonders. Strong efforts are made to keep plastic off the island, with the resort operating its own glass-bottling plant. Management works tirelessly to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage – efforts are underway to retrieve the remains of ancient, abandoned coral mosques, with the resort’s small but punchy museum and marine centre showcasing the history of one of the world’s most fascinating island nations. If, somehow, a drifting piece of plastic washes up on the island’s shores, don’t hesitate to pick it up and deliver it to the resort’s staff – you'll be surprised at how good it feels. 

Ready to escape? Discover our exclusive offer for JA Manafaru

For more Maldives dreaming, read Insider Access: Discover COMO, the Maldives’ Top Boutique Resort Brand for Understated Luxury

About Nate Robinson
Mad for travel and an incorrigible foodie, Nate is as at home in a Mexican taqueria as he is at Tsukiji. When he's not abroad, you can always find Nate with a book in one hand and a tiki cocktail in the other.

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