Arriving at Soneva Jani is like checking in to a floating paradise. After a 1-hour luxury speed boat trip from Soneva Fushi, where we spent the first few days of our stay in the Maldives, the villas of Soneva Jani appear in the midst of its turquoise lagoon like a mirage - but better, because it’s real. You know you’re in for pure magic.
Once we stepped off the boat, we were promptly introduced to our Mr. Friday, Adu, who had put together an itinerary for the stay, and took us on a quick tour of the resort and facilities. Once we had the lay of the land (or should I say, water), it was time to check in to our over-water villa. There is little that can prepare you for the jaw-dropping effect of stepping in to your new home for the next few days, the oversized villas (yep I checked and this beauty is 6 x bigger than our Sydney flat), built entirely over the lagoon and complete with stunning little glimpses to the clear blue water below. Outside, you are treated to your own private pool with lounges and an uninterrupted view of blue on blue. There are also two private access points into the water, one near the pool, and the other attached to your indoor-outdoor bathroom (just behind that incredible tub).
One of the features I just couldn’t deal with, and yes there were a few, was the roof that opened up above the bedroom. It meant you could lie in bed and night and literally stargaze, before returning your ceiling to fully closed and getting some shut eye. Having a bath in that beautiful outdoor tub, and having a platter of local fruit and chocolate delivered to the room were other highlights. Really it’s all just too good, and the photos can hardly do it justice!
The collection of gorgeous villas are attached to the main island of Soneva Jani by a winding walkway. Just off the beach lies the tennis court, while at the other end of the island is the over-water Cinema Paradiso and water sports centre. James, one of the fantastic guides working for Soneva took us on a tour of the island where we were able to learn more about its wildlife and plant life, as well as future expansion plans and how they are caring for the environment. This is one of the other things I truly love about Soneva - they are so conscientious about the land and the ocean, and it’s apparent in everything they do. They grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables on the island (the tiny bananas are a must-try), they ensure the land and beaches are kept clean and safe for the eco-system, and most recently, James mentioned, they were able to rescue and revive a turtle who had arrived on shore, affected by waste from the greater ocean.
After our tour, we were taken back to The Gathering, an absolutely enormous over-water structure with soaring ceilings and glass-bottomed sunken tables, which serves as the hub of the resort. The Gathering with its open-air and balcony levels, is where most meals are served (there is also the option to have lunch or dinner on the beaches of the two nearby islands - pending weather and occasion). Fans of chocolate and ice cream will be happy to know that these speciality rooms are also on offer at Soneva Jani, alongside cheese and wine, which are located together behind the main buffet. There is never a bad time for ice cream after asoll…
After a decadent three course meal (including the most amazing fresh juice and smoothies), we were fuelled for the afternoon ahead. Our dream afternoon entailed a quick dip outside our villa, guided snorkelling to try and spot more tropical fish, a quick chocolate break and then a sunset cruise. We had been so lucky so see dolphins at Soneva Fushi, so I was delighted to hear upon boarding this boat that there is a large pod of dolphins living on the other side of the island at Soneva Jani who love to show off for passers by. After a glass of champagne and canapes, we made it to deeper water, where, sure enough, a gorgeous family of dolphins popped out to say hi. This video of a mother and baby spinner dolphin swimming together is one of my favourite moments from the trip. The baby was just learning how to flip and somersault out of the water like its mum, so we got quite a show!
Thank you for having us Soneva!
All photos by Rohan Peterson