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15 reasons why the Maldives is perfect for families too

The Maldives is commonly perceived as a destination for honeymooners – or at the very least, for couples – but there are many reasons why the islands are great for families too. If you travel as a family but hadn’t considered the Maldives as a potential family friendly destination, then think again. Here are just some of the reasons we found during our stay at JA Manafaru. An opportunity to travel by seaplane What little kids (or big kids for that matter!) don’t love the thought of going on a seaplane? Seaplane Flown by a barefoot pilot, a seaplane experience in the Maldives is one not to be missed! Flight briefing Friendly staff who are great with kids For me, what makes an experience truly luxurious is the level of service and attention to detail. And that needn’t stop with the adults. We were always made to feel very welcome everywhere we went on the island, as were our boys. Waiters made a fuss of them at meal times, staff spent the time showing them around when they first went to take a look at the kids’ Coolzone and Chillzone areas, and boat staff were eager to help them haul in their fishing catch if needed. Even personal notes and gifts were left for them in the room. Welcome note for the kids Family friendly, luxurious accommodation When you travel as a family, it’s always a pleasure to have ample space for you all rather than be cramped to a single family room. Our beach villa not only gave us this, but also a private pool and easy beach access. Beach villa We also took a look at JA Manafaru’s two bedroom Royal Island suites which offer even more space and comfort should you wish… a whopping 600 square metres in fact (440 sq m of which is indoor). Beautiful beaches You only have to look at brochures of the Maldives to know how idyllic the islands are. Factor in that that it’s all white sand as well and you’ll realise that the beaches are not just beautiful to look at, but they are also comprised of sand that doesn’t get too hot – regardless of how much the sun shines – and so they’re easy to walk on. JA Manafaru beach Kid-friendly food Our children are reasonably adventurous when it comes to food but have a tendency to opt for familiar dishes when ordering from a menu.  Healthy child-friendly options are available but with the buffet option at JA Manafaru’s Kakuni restaurant they can try small amounts of a variety of different dishes; through this, on the weekly Maldivian night our youngest discovered he was rather partial to the Maldivian curry – something we’ll struggle to replicate back home! Maldivian night Children can also try ‘mocktails’ (non-alcoholic coctails) at JA Manafaru’s Infinity Bar and Horizon Lounge. Drinks at the Infinity Bar Learn to cook Maldivian food It doesn’t just stop with trying different foods!  Your children can learn how to make it, too!  We really enjoyed the family cookery lesson with Moosa where we learnt how to make a variety of Maldivian snacks before sitting down to sample our efforts. Cookery class Sea life Did you know that the Maldives ranks among the top five places on Earth to see whales and dolphins? Over 20 different spacies (a quarter of the world’s total) call the Maldives home. Spinner dolphins are the most common and occur in their tens of thousands. Dolphins from above In fact, over 1,000 species of fish have been recorded in the Maldives and, on top of that, you of course have turtles and other marine life to keep an eye out for. The region is home to both green turtles and hawksbill turtles, both of which are on the list of endangered species. Crab at JA Manafaru Head to the end of one of the jetties at JA Manafaru at around 6pm and you can take part in the daily fish feeding experience and start to get an appreciation for the variety of species that are out there. Famiy fish feeding Turtle feeding Other wildlife What many people do not know is that the further north you go in the Maldives, the lusher and greener the islands become so whilst JA Manafaru is fringed by the white beaches that we all know, it also has a jungle-filled interior ripe for exploration. As many as 167 different species of birds have been recorded in the Maldives. You’ll also see lots of geckos which are great at keeping the mosquitoes in check! Gecko And at dusk look up towards the treetops and you may just see the flying fox – a huge fruit bat with a wingspan of around one metre. We saw them frequently but I was never quite quick enough to get a good picture! Fishing Fishing with a single line is great way to spend time together as a family. Forget about the stresses of work and just relax, spend quality time together and see what happens.  It’s a great leveller, too, with our boys upstaging us by catching four fish to my one tiddler which was thrown back. Successful fishing trip And, whilst you head back to shore, the boatmen from JA Manafaru will even ask you where you’d like to dine that evening and how you’d like your fish cooked, and pass the details on to the kitchen staff for your dinner that night. Swimming and snorkelling As well as there being multiple pools to swim in, at JA Manafaru you can go on a snorkelling excursion over the coral – a great way to observe what’s going on beneath the ocean surface. And for those with suitable experience, there are also opportunities to dive. Snorkelling Watersports Fancy trying your hand at kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding or sailing a catamaran.  JA Manafaru has its own watersports centre where you can partake in any of these activities. Other sports Prefer your sports on dry land? If watersports aren’t your thing, there are lots of other sports to entertain the kids with. The Chillzone at JA Manafaru has a table tennis table and pool table. Pool table There’s also a tennis court and you can even try your hand at golf. Golf at JA Manafaru Resort The resort also provides you with bikes with wide tyres (makes it easier over the sand) if you feel like cycling. Games room I can’t say I’m wildly in favour of children going all the way to the Maldives only to then play on video games but I suppose a quick 20 minutes of play whilst you’re waiting to go on out an excursion doesn’t do any harm. And at JA Manafaru, you congregate close to the kids’ Chillzone where there’s a games room with X-box, a racing driving game and a flight simulator where you can even choose to fly a seaplane. Babysitting services Fancy a night out as a couple?  JA Manafaru offer child minding and babysitting services should you wish. Education They say that travel is one of the best forms of education and I am inclined to agree.  Aside from the wealth of experiences already mentioned, travelling is an excellent way for children to get an appreciation of the world – its scale, the differences between countries and so on and so forth. And whilst at JA Manafaru we took up the unique opportunity to visit a local inhabited island. Island stroll We were welcomed into a home where we drank fresh coconut milk, wandered the island’s streets and beaches, called in at a school (our boys were even briefly roped into a lesson!) and visited the local hospital. Local school It gave us all a much greater appreciation for what island life for Maldivians is truly like, away from the luxury resorts that you only get to see in the travel brochures – an opportunity that most visitors to the islands probably never get. Disclosure: The above formed part of a luxury trip to Dubai and the Maldives sponsored by Hayes & Jarvis, specialists in personalised, luxury holiday itineraries for discerning travellers to over 55 destinations worldwide.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. I read almost all of your articles and love them. I must say this one makes me want to visit so much I wish we could afford to leave tomorrow! I homeschool my son and he would love every bit of this as would I. The sea life alone sounds amazing. I so want to see whales as I have had a fascination with sea life for many years, yet we haven’t traveled enough to get to see anything; barely a dolphin. Thankfully we are beginning a phase where we can travel. I would love to see whales, spinner dolphins and sea turtles among other things. Great fascinating article. Thanks for writing from the perspective of a family going. It helps someone like me get ideas.

  2. You’re welcome, Elaine. The beauty of homeschooling, I guess, is that you can choose when to go. I would certainly recommend it as an educational experience for your son, as well as an amazingly fun time, of course. We didn’t see whales on our trip but I believe it’s possible. We did see a lot of dolphins, though (see this video clip I took: https://www.facebook.com/luxurytravel/videos/10153990799534008/ ), and lots of sealife when snorkelling (see this short clip: https://www.facebook.com/luxurytravel/videos/10153992192024008 )

  3. Wow thanks for the links to the clips! That one with the dolphins would have made my entire trip! We are going on a cruise to the southern Caribbean this January and I am finally going to get to snorkel. I think we may take scuba lessons before just in case!

  4. I have never done a scuba diving course (that second clip is just from me diving down from the surface with snorkelling gear) but would love to one day as I’m sure it opens up a lot more possibilities. :)

  5. My sister has done it for years as she has traveled the caribbean and other places extensively. I think I will probably just snorkel but my son wants to learn to scuba so I am looking into classes.

  6. Definitely a skill worth having, I’d say, if you travel quite a bit. It’s something I intend to do one day. JA Manafaru has a PADI 5 star dive centre if you wish to learn there or if you’d like to develop further what has already been learnt elsewhere.

  7. I inquired today and I think we are going to sign up for an introductory course. My son thinks the really exciting things would be experienced diving. I say snorkeling is fine, but I’m willing to give it a try!

  8. I think you’ll be able to see plenty just by snorkelling, but it does no harm to know the basics of scuba diving also and will open up more opportunities for you, I’m sure.

  9. Yes I’m sure snorkeling would suit me just fine. I want to see some things in person that I’ve only seen videos of other people doing. I would be happy seeing fish and hopefully sea turtles. The scuba training hopefully will be good; we are starting with an introductory class.

  10. A great post showing both experience from a resort and visiting a local island.

    Right now, we are staying on one of the gorgeous local islands in the Maldives and absolutely love it. It gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local culture and explore deserted beaches of the island.

    We would like to add one more information to the article; the Maldives is one of few places in the world where visitors can swim (snorkel or dive) with whale sharks in Ari Atoll and Baa Atoll. The huge but harmless animals gather from May to December on the western side and the rest of the year on the eastern side of the Maldives.

    Happy travels!

    Veru& Petra

  11. Thanks for sharing Paul. I’m always happy to hear from traveling families. Too often we hear about the challenges of family travel, but I’ve found that the positives far out weight he negatives.
    It’s very true – children allow you to see things from a different lens and force you to slow down and enjoy the simple moments.

  12. Great post Paul! I adore the Maldives so I am delighted to see there are family-friendly hotels out there. I am totally with you on the ethos that travel is an education – and your boys certainly did loads of activities while there. I particularly like the non-touristy island you visited. Fantastic seeing it all that first hand and that they even got to join in a lesson!

  13. Thanks for dropping by to comment, Elizabeth. :)

    Our eldest last year did a school project on the plight of the rhino following a safari we did in South Africa (also with Hayes & Jarvis – see this post: https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2014/10/09/20-great-reasons-to-visit-shamwari-game-reserve-on-the-eastern-cape-south-africa/ ) so that was a great example of our children using their travel experiences to help further their education, and of course there’s nothing quite like being able to apply first hand knowledge in that way.

    And seeing the local island – even though it was just for a few hours – gave them (and us!) a great insight into what real life is like in the Maldives.

  14. Ah a seaplane. I’ve been a fortunate man and ticked off many wondrous experiences in my decades of globe-trotting.

    My friends who have travelled to the Maldives say that it’s worth booking the trip for the views from the seaplane alone. They say that the colours, beauty and vast horizon just can not be replicated on film.

    I need to look into the Maldives – arriving by seaplane.

    1. That was actually our first time on a seaplane and a great experience it was, too. Fabulous views as you say. There’s actually a funny to tale there, too… when boarding, we were all quite excited and my wife said to the pilot “It’s our first time on a seaplane!” to which the pilot replied “Mine, too!” :-) She’s a slightly anxious flyer at the best of times, so I’m not sure she knew whether to laugh or not!

  15. I never imagined Maldives to be this family friendly. We also had our honeymoon in one of the resorts in Maldives summer of 2016 and just by reading this article, I look forward to going back with our first born, JA Manafaru will definitely be our pick! I’m writing down all the activities you’ve mentioned and we’re not missing them, for sure.

    1. Yes, I think it’s often assumed that Maldives is only suited to couples. Perhaps that’s the main market for the islands, but there are still many, many ways that families can enjoy time there. Congrats on your new addition and enjoy your visit! :-)

  16. Never mind about the kids, I think the Maldives looks “friendly” for adults too.

    I have always believed that somewhere inside every adult there is a kid waiting to get out.

    The picture of that idyllic beach brings out the kid in me too.

    Nor have I been one to take on volcano hot curries for the sake of it. I would appreciate some mild spiced food too. And what could be more fun than learning to cook the local way?

    I’m beginning to think “second honeymoon” now that our kids have flown the nest.

  17. Can’t wait to return to the Maldives with my family. We have enjoyed many special holidays there, and have found that it’s a great destination for kids of all ages.

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