Marvellous Maldives

Sarah Smith on 26 February 2019
As Familiarisation Trips go this one was pretty special! A twin-centre COMO hotels trip staying at both Cocoa Island and Maalifushi.

As it was my first visit to the Maldives, I was so excited to arrive, so a short 50 minutes speedboat transfer was just what I needed with some fresh air after being on a plane for so long, and great to whizz past other islands en-route. I reached 5* Cocoa Island first, greeted by the GM Benjamin, instantly you can tell how tiny the place is, you can walk around it in 10 minutes, the sand is so soft and the water crystal clear you can see baby black fin sharks and baby stingrays in the lagoon where the water is shallow and warm.

All the rooms are over-water, only 33 rooms in total so at certain times of the day when the dive trips are out you feel like you have the island to yourself! It's got a traditional-Maldivian rustic feel to it, all wooden and decorated in white/creams and interior in browns/woods too. They are closing 2019 for a refit which it does need to compete with the new islands that are opening all the time. I hope they don't spoil the rustic-ness though as there is a certain charm to it. The unique Dhoni boat shape of the leading over-water rooms are really cute and ideal for a couple.

I stayed in the duplex suite with bedroom upstairs, large living room which can sleep kids and a huge balcony into the sea with loungers on the deck. The larger overwater villas are on each end of the platoon (sunset and sunrise) and offer much more space, privacy, lots of decking and bedrooms for kids. Although there is no kids club or kids’ facilities to offer many families come for the space and the beach life/snorkelling/ diving etc.

There is only one restaurant and bar, but the food is amazing. It's so fresh, lots of seafood and fabulous, friendly service. The menu changes every day so it's like having many restaurants on one island. I had a great Thai menu one night then a seafood one the other... all delicious... and the puddings? Wow! They also have a stunning 1km sandbar that is lapped by the Indian Ocean, stunning for a daytime paddle or they can set up for romantic meals on an evening.

Most repeat clients come for the excellent diving and snorkelling. It is truly amazing and you can dive from very nearby. We did a black-fin shark snorkelling trip and saw 32! A huge favourite with repeat guests who feel like they are home when they land. I can see why; the welcome was lovely and smiley, and the small size makes you feel like not just a room number. My only negative is the closeness to other islands, there are a few more 'local' islands close by so small boat traffic is constant, and the proximity of the Maldives Jail island is a bit of an eye-sore, saying that all accommodation faces the other direction.

After two days at Cocoa Island, I arrived by seaplane to 5* COMO Maalifushi, greeted personally by the GM who had checked faces against passports and knew all our names. I noticed this with other guests arriving - if a couple arrived, he knew them by names on the reservation - nice touch I thought! This island is quite large in comparison to the sister hotel, so every villa is assigned Dutch bikes to get around on and there are buggies for those that chose not to cycle.

I had a sunset over-water villa, I felt like I had won the lottery or died and gone to heaven! Loads of space, private pool, his and hers sinks and shower inside and out. The decking space was private and had both a double day bed and sunbeds both extremely comfortable and luxurious. The ever-changing sky at sunset was just truly unforgettable and so romantic! I viewed other rooms, all are very well decorated, and luxurious. The amenity kits are by COMO Shambala the in-house spa products, all organic and beautifully smelling. Beach rooms are again very private with hedges in front with just a small cutting to get to the beach.

Watersports are free - paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel kits with vests, and the marine life centre staff were very helpful and informative. For keen snorkellers, the house reef was truly excellent with so many different fishes it was amazing! The drop-off at the edge was just like in Finding Nemo where huge shoals of fish could be seen in the cooler water. They offer a must-do whale-shark night snorkel trip which was just breath-taking, local fisherman call the hotel when they spot the whale-sharks feeding, we were given a mobile and when we got the call at dinner you must drop everything to rush to the speedboat to get to the feeding-site. Wet suited and snorkelled up I snorkelled next to 2 whale-sharks who were 6ft long! Once in a lifetime stuff!

Food at Maalifushi is also fabulous, lots of choice and varying menus, a great Japanese restaurant facing the sunset (oh the lamb chops) and a main bar/restaurant area. For families, the Kids Club is huge, both indoor and outdoor, with an emphasis on learning and eco-friendly /recycling/environmental marine work. The spa is also well worth a visit (although quite expensive) all in-house COMO Shambala smells, divine!

I would return in a heartbeat, the most romantic place I have ever been!

Top tips:

Always book the most meal-inclusive plan as food was expensive.

Why not twin-centre both islands for two very different experiences like I did.

If you have a late flight home why not check out early from Maalifushi and book a day-room at Cocoa Island so you can enjoy your last day and then speedboat to Male for your international flight home?