Soneva Jani, Maldives
If you want to visit a natural paradise that feels blissfully remote and come away feeling like you've left it wonderfully untouched, then Soneva Jani comes closer to that than anywhere else. A 45-minute seaplane flight from Malé will transport you to the Maldives' distant Noonu Atoll, where Soneva Jani's five islands are found; the resort itself is only situated on the largest of those. Scan the horizon and as hard as you try, you won't spot another island in sight, only an endless canvas of blues from the sea to the sky.
Most of Soneva Jani's accommodation is on stilts over a turquoise lagoon and while each villa and reserve packs in a serious amount of luxury for both couples and families, their playful side evident in the fact most have winding blue slides dropping you straight into the water. The resort doesn't just have an eye for a postcard-perfect paradise to base itself on, but an awareness to make sure it stays that way: each villa is built from wood recycled from a past life, bottled water has been banned since 2008 and even the overwater cinema uses Bluetooth earphones so the island's nesting wildlife isn't disturbed.
The word jani means 'wisdom' in sanskrit and with its blue hues and total seclusion, it'd be a wise move to make Soneva Jani your next tropical escape.
Accommodation at Soneva Jani is split into two different types, romantically named Chapter One (Water Retreats and Island Retreats) and Chapter Two (Water Reserves and Island Reserves).
No matter which accommodation type you plump for, you'll have more space than you know what to do with; even the one-bedroom options are incredibly spacious. Made using recycled whitewashed woods and with the ultimate in comfort found everywhere you look, there are plenty of living and dining spaces to spread yourselves around during your stay. Every one of the villas (both on land and overwater) also comes with its own giant pool. The retreats on land are either encased by mangroves or surrounded by palms, with all villa types coming with expansive decking areas ideal for daytime relaxing. The three-bedroom island reserve also comes with a viewing tower complete with a dining table – the highest point on the island.
Most of the accommodation is set over the crystal-clear lagoon and all of them feel so palatial you'll find it a struggle to leave! All come with private pools and generous outdoor spaces with steps leading you straight into the lagoon – some also with hammock netting, too. Most also come with Soneva Jani's signature feature: its blue slides, where you can whizz straight into the inviting waters below. They are bound to bring the inner child out of everyone!
The Gathering forms the heart of the resort, a three-storey overwater structure which is home to some of the dining outlets as well as the spa, observatory and library. Down to Earth is the main restaurant where delicious international offerings are available, with breakfast staples available in the morning, a buffet at lunch and then an open kitchen format at dinner. It's also home to more unique dining offerings, with So Imaginative an intimate setting for wine dinners and tasting menus, So Engaging a chef's table experience for up to five guests at a time and So Starstruck affording you the opportunity to eat under the stars on the world's first overwater observatory.
Beyond The Gathering, more restaurants can be found scattered around the island. The Crab Shack specialises in seafood in a rustic toes-in-the-sand setting, while Overseas is a tribute to seafood and organic produce by acclaimed Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren and if you really want to crank up the surprise factor, eat through a secret menu at Guess Who's Cooking.
Soneva Jani is ringed by a perfect sugar-white beach, with the millpond-like lagoon which laps it the perfect place for swimming and snorkelling. The resort's PADI-accredited Soleni Dive Centre is your gateway to the Noonu Atoll's deeper waters, where you can snorkel and dive among kaleidoscopic coral, sea turtles and rays. You can even join the resident marine biologist for incredible ocean experiences, such as watching a mother turtle lay her eggs on the beach, coral planting or marine conservation expeditions.
There is a plethora of activities you can do at Soneva Jani, a breadth of things to do that's seemingly endless – many of which have a sustainable theme to them. You can go on a dolphin-spotting safari, a huge range of complimentary water sports (including eco-friendly windsurfing), spot constellations on a stargazing cruise and then watch stars of the silver screen variety at the overwater cinema. For something extra special, squirrel off to the island's North Beach for a sunrise breakfast or escape to another island altogether for a day of private dining, snorkelling and relaxing.
Children will also love the range of island activities they can enjoy, from treasure hunts to an island cycle ride and kid-friendly snorkelling to arts and crafts at the Mini Den.
Set within The Gathering hub, Soneva Jani's spa has the perfect view of the shimmering lagoon. It offers a wide-ranging menu of holistic and traditional treatments (which derive from a range of techniques, from Swedish to Indian), all of which use all-natural products such as sea plants from the Indian Ocean. In addition to this, there are sauna and steam rooms, yoga sessions and even a menu of spa treatments for children!
Soneva Jani FAQ
Yes. You can stay all-inclusive at Soneva Jani, or there are also bed and breakfast, half board and full board meal plans.
Soneva Jani is found floating in the 5.6km-long private Medhufaru lagoon in the Noonu Atoll.
The primary way to reach Soneva Jani is via a 45-minute seaplane flight from the Maldivian capital, Malé. If you're twinning your holiday with a stay at its sister resort Soneva Fushi, the two are connected by an hour-long speedboat ride.
Yes, Soneva Jani does have a house reef but it's only reachable by boat. However, with so little other boat traffic around, when you get there you'll have its iridescent coral and marine life to yourself.
Soneva Jani comprises five islands, but the actual resort is only located on the largest of them, Medhufaru, which is 150 acres in size. With most of the accommodation located on jetties hovering over the lagoon, the island feels even bigger!
A Peek Inside
Where is Soneva Jani?
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