Manafaru Island, Maldives

Photo: JA Resorts & Hotels
Photo: JA Resorts & Hotels

Happy anniversary! The last few years, you and your husband celebrated with a tasting menu at a fancy restaurant, a vineyard tour at your favorite winery, and a weekend at a countryside bed and breakfast. This year, you’re looking for something even more special, though. No, it’s not your fifth anniversary. Nor have you reached your tenth yet. It’s your seventh, which means you’ve just cleared the seven-year itch. So it’s time to celebrate.

No destination screams romantic celebration quite like the Maldives. The island nation sits southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. It’s made up of 26 atolls and nearly 1,200 little coral islands. They’re filled with palm trees, lined with white-sand beaches, ringed by coral reefs, and surrounded by the bluest water you’ve ever seen. And now is the time go, since monsoon season begins in May.

After landing at the international airport, which is on its own island near the capital of Malé, take a smaller airplane to the Haa Alif Atoll, the northernmost atoll in the country. From there, it’s a short boat ride to Manafaru Island. Pass uninhabited islands and fishing dhows as you cruise over that brilliantly blue water. A jetty and overwater villas start to come into view. Soon you see a stilted restaurant and an infinity pool, as well. While beach bungalows, tucked in between the palms, can barely be seen. Welcome to JA Manafaru.

Photo: JA Resorts & Hotels
Photo: JA Resorts & Hotels

The resort is the perfect place to celebrate—and relax. Slowly walk down the jetty as your eyes dart every which way to take in your beautiful surroundings. Try to pay attention while checking in, but find it much too difficult with the splendid beach within eyesight. Nod your head with approval as you pass restaurants, pools, and the spa en route to your villa. Get excited when you see the thatched roof, the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the floor’s glass panel in your sunrise water villa. Then fall in love for a second time when you step out onto your deck. Two sun loungers, an infinity plunge pool, and the uninterrupted Indian Ocean are in front of you. This truly is paradise.

So what are you going to do first in paradise? Find the bikini you stashed in your carry-on luggage and dive off your deck into the water? Pop open the champagne that’s chilling at the bar? Or slip out of everything and stare at the horizon from your little pool? You opt for both the second and third options. Your husband quickly follows suit.

The rest of the day, enjoy your pool, deck, villa, and each other. You have a whole week to explore the remainder of the island. During the day, you’ll relax during a Maldivian massage with locally produced coconut oil at the appropriately named Calm Spa, claim nearby (and deserted) Medhafushi Island as your own, and float in the bath-like water. At night, you’ll help feed the fish (that attract sea tortoises) off the jetty, sip a sundowner at the stilted Horizon Lounge, and eat dinner among tiki torches on the beach. And, despite rarely waking up before the sun is high in the sky at home, you’ll take advantage of your sunrise-facing villa each morning. You don’t want to waste a moment of your celebration time.

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