When we think of coral reefs, we often think of the hard corals whose calcium carbonate exoskeletons are the stuff that this destination is made out of. But just as dazzling to the undersea adventurer are the colourful soft corals that line walls and often caves on the reefs. And the best dive spot for soft corals seems to be Becky’s Caves according to a number of experts I’ve conferred with. It is a site for Advanced divers as the sub-aquatic display, described as “lots of soft corals all coming out like grapes” starts at 22 metres deep. The nearest resort, JA Manafaru’s “Sun Diving School” describes it as
- “This reef is the north side of Madulu Island. The top reef starts from 7 meters and drops down until 20-25 meters depth, showing all its beauty. It is a real wall reef, where you can meet napoleon fishes, red snappers and morays, lion fishes and different kind of nudibranches in the small overhangs. At the depth of 20 meters, one huge recess of the reef shows on one side a wall completely covered of soft corals of different colors; from yellow, pink, white to orange, a real universe of colors! Bring with you your torch and your camera: one fantastic dive for everybody but one rare show to see!”
If you prefer the solidity of a stationary bike (and other perks like safety), but want to get outdoors to enjoy the vistas of paradise, JA Manafaru has added to its already extensive estate of al fresco fitness with outdoor workout machines. I’ve long applauded resorts who gave their gyms prominent positions with open windows so that a holiday workout could also be as enjoyable as the rest of the vacation (too many were after-thought facilities sequestered in claustrophobic rooms in the middle of the island). You don’t get much more expansive workout views to distract you from your toil than Manafaru’s fitness deck.
The Mah Jong table at JA Manafaru’s stand-out games room swings into action at the conclusion of each hand. Maldives holidays are so languid and lazy, even assembling your tiles can be a bit much effort when you could be sipping your pina colada. For a demonstration of its electronic wizardry, check out the YouTube demo below.
International Childrens Day today. Not to mention the beginning of half term in the UK schools. So something to keep the little one’s happiness enhanced wouldn’t be amiss. Like JA Manafaru’s game room packed to the brim with more games than I have seen in a resort including…
- Flight simulator with specialist handsets controls
- Full Driving simulator
- Big screen HD playstation
- Ping Pong
- Mah Jong
Mind you the collection is just a tempting to the kid in all of us.
A number of islands have guide signs to help introduce guests to the distinctive flora and greenery, but JA Manafaru has helpful signs for just about every aspect of their property. I’ve already posted about their outdoor workout course where your ‘trainer’ is a series of signs to help you along the path. Their photo op sign was one of the first in the Maldives (now many have them) and the coral fragment frame is a delightful way design.
JA Manafaru also feature quite an intriguing showcase of a traditional Maldivian village which they bring to life with very informative and well designed sign posts telling the story behind the display (see below). It makes the exploration of their distinctive exhibit into a museum quality adventure.
Art can be anything that inspires the senses. We are most familiar with visual art, but gastronomic delights can be truly artistic in the depiction of creative flavours. One medium of art we are especially familiar with is “sound art”. Not music, but actually composing artistic creations out of sounds that may or may not have any music or rhythm whatsoever. Our son, Chase (himself a veteran of a dozen visits to the Maldives with our family) is a sound artist. He recently released a work “Four Points” based on recordings around the UK shoreline. Our playlists are filled with his pieces and others he has recommended.
Most people will have enjoyed sound art in a spa where ambient pieces are often featured to paint a soothing acoustic environment. A common theme in such pieces is the sound of water. Be it gently curling seaside lapping the shore or a trickling brook or even a rainfall, something about flowing water is viscerally calming. Some resorts feature ambient recordings on their in-room sound systems. But JA Manafaru produces a live performance soundscape in their beach suites with a waterfall situated right behind the bed.
The feature reminded me of our recent stay at Shangri-La Villingili. On the second day we had quite an extensive rain shower for a few hours. But, Lori and I just flung open the French doors to the room and took a dreamy nap lying in bed with the sound of warm rain falling a few feet from us.
Maldives kids clubs are packed with miniature versions of the amenities their grown-up parents enjoy during their stay. One of the focal points of luxury in the resort villas are the lavish bathrooms. And JA Manafaru is no less accommodating to its kids club patrons with a restroom designed with their pint-sized scale in mind. A great example of knowing your customer and optimising the customer experience. I bet the kids feel like great big boys and girls when they use the Manafaru loo (and I felt like the Jolly Green Giant).
Today’s is wine’s big day. Nevermind “Wine O’Clock’…all day is National Wine Day today. And the *big* place to drink it in the Maldives is JA Manafaru. They have the largest underground wine cellar in the country. Three entire rooms. And it is filled from top to bottom with 3,000 bottles of the world’s finest fermentation. The space is not just used for storage, but also elegantly fitted out for wine tastings and pairing meals.
Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo ! – Latin American toast meaning “Health and love and time to enjoy it.” At Manafaru, you get the space to enjoy it as well.
JA Manafaru doesn’t just use painted grains of sand to make a stunning tableau, but also painted grains of rice to make a stunning table. And not just on the sand itself, but on the tables on the sand (of beach dinners). Actually throughout the resort too (eg. dining rooms, bars, other places of celebration). A meander through the #jamanafaru Instagram account brings up a whole gallery of masterpieces.
While the glitterati use sand to paint themselves, artist Ahmed Shahid of JA Manafaru uses paint to adorn sand. When he is not working in the resort boutique, he creates a variety of sand compositions, but his specialty is football motifs. The resort reports “He works at the boutique. He is a very good self taught artist who makes these designs. They are made for guests, when we are aware of a football team that they support.” His proudest moment was when one of his favourite players, Luis Figo, posed with one of his creations when visiting the resort (see above).