If you look at most peoples bucket lists, staying in the Maldives is always going to be on there somewhere!
For Ben and I it’s been somewhere we’ve wanted to visit together for a while now. Anyone I’ve ever spoken only has good things to say about the Maldives. All you ever hear about is the whitest of white sand that merges into a sea of so many blues, half of them don’t even have names.
It’s not until you glide in on the sea plane over the vast atolls that you realise the photos you see aren’t photoshopped. There really are more blues in the sky and the sea than you or I could ever possibly name.
Our first stop was Ja Manafaru. Located on the furthest atoll, the sea plane ride was fairly long. But gave us the perfect opportunity to pinpoint which atoll and islands were which.
As soon as we landed, we were introduced to Jessica; our concierge for the entirety of our stay. One of the most genuinely friendly people either of us had ever had the pleasure of meeting.
She whisked us away in an electric golf cart and gave us a quick spin of the island, before ending the tour at the end of a long boardwalk. Separate walkways lead off the centre. All leading to individual over-the-water-bungalows. Ours was second from the end. Two ‘fat man’ bikes were parked outside along with an umbrella stand, should we experience a tropical storm!
From the entrance hallway, to the left was a bathroom complete with jacuzzi bath, separate toilet and shower (both outdoor overlooking the incredible waters below). And all the Elemis products you could ever want.
To the right, the main living area. A huge bed with double ‘his and hers’ wardrobes behind. A fully stocked mini bar and the most gorgeous living area. A glass floor window gave a direct view to be able to look down onto the fish. But the pièce de résistence were the floor-to-ceiling windows. Ensuring that, even when you’re lying in bed, you don’t miss a second of the spectacular view.
Out of the main living area, we had our own private decking with loungers, a swing seat, table for four people and an infinity pool overlooking the unbelievable turquoise Maldivian Ocean. It took all our will power not to dive into the water at that very moment! Instead, we had a quick change out of our airplane clothes and into swimsuits to head off to fill our tummies at lunch.
Every day, lunch is held in the pool restaurant Andiamo. An Italian themed restaurant serving starters, mains and puddings every lunch time. I think our waistline’s doubled on the trip!
We skipped starter and went straight to mains. Ben chose a quinoa salad and I had a chicken and pine nut salad. Both were delicious and presented beautifully. Ice cream followed. Ben had an affogato and I simply had strawberry and chocolate. All made fresh on site!
We wallowed back to our room, to lounge in the pool and sea. And catch up on the afternoon’s emails. Both of us must have fallen asleep, because the next thing we saw was this…. The sky streaked into life with pinks and blues to announce the end of the day.
A quick dip in the shower, we were changed and ready to venture out in search of a pre-dinner drink at the Tiki Bar. Live music filled the beach and bounced off the water as couple’s clinked glasses, staring adoringly into their Honeymooner’s eyes. Families laughed and kids chased the crabs, in the moonlight, along the sand. It was pure bliss.
When the drinks were empty and we were the last ones sitting there after the music had stopped, we took our cue to head to dinner. A short walk along the sandy paths took us to the Ocean Grill. A five star restaurant on the island with tables on the beach so we could bury our feet in the sand as we ate.
I had ceviche, a mixed fish platter and then black forest gateaux.
He had Duck, steak and dauphinoise potatoes then ice cream.
That night sleep took us in record time, as the sound of the waves hitting the pillars beneath us became the Ocean’s own lullaby. We couldn’t have been any more content.
JA Manafaru is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection. For more information visit www.preferredhotels.com