My wife and I spent just three days and nights at Cocoa Island in mid November. Kind of a short stay but since this was our first visit of Maldives, it takes on some experimentation characteristics and the hunger for more is a strong driver for a rerun. My general comment is that you don’t have to go the haven to find paradise, Cocoa Island is the paradise on earth. Cheesy as hell but true.
Instead of repeating all the praises served up by fellow visitors, I would like to share some tips about vacationing at Cocoa Island from our own experiences.
(a) Room upgrade. Since this was our first visit of Maldives, I thought we would go slow and build it up from there. So I booked the Dhoni Suite, the most basic accommodation. But when shown inside the door of our Dhoni, I realized it was a Dhoni Loft Suite, with a huge living room and bath room at the first floor and the bed room at the second floor. It was an automatic upgrade that I did not expect but fully appreciated. And the honeymoon Champaign was chilling in an ice bucket on the table. I must thank our travel agent Singapore Airline Holidays and Cocoa Island management for this surprise gift. Our vacation scored a fantastic start.
(b) Late checkout. Our departure flight was at 23:25, almost mid night local time. The normal checkout time is at 12:00 noon everyday. No need to ask or beg, on the day prior to our departure, we received a letter that automatically extended our checkout time to 18:00 for the 20:00 speed boat ride to the airport. I later find out that it is Cocoa Island’s policy that if rooms are available, automatic late checkout is extended to all guests. I read online that in some resorts, you either pay for the extension, or spend half a day waiting in public areas for the departure ride, or leave early for Male for a local tour to kill time. This policy sets Cocoa Island apart from many other resorts. We had an extra half a day to swim, feed the fish, relax and hit the spa.
(c) Unlimited fresh water supply. There were two bottles in our second floor bedroom, two in the bathroom, two in the living room and one big bottle by the coffee machine. And it is Cocoa Island’s policy that you simply ask for more if running out. Fresh water is in dear supply at Maldives. I read online that in some resorts, supply is limited. Some visitors even bring their own to save money. Again, Cocoa Island scores a winner with this policy. We never out drank those standard supplies though.
(d) Time slows down at Maldives. It doesn’t fly by. We are from Hong Kong. And Maldives standard time is three hours slower than Hong Kong’s. So basically, we were eating breakfast in our normal lunch hour, and dinner in our bedtime. That made the day last longer and we seemed to have gained more hours daily to enjoy our stay.
(e) Get up early and do some stuff you don’t normally do. My working habit is to get up at 6:00 daily to check out the overseas markets. As Maldives is three hours behind Hong Kong, guess what, my biological clock woke me up everyday at around 3:00 local time. Here is what I would do at the wee hours of the day at Maldives. Get up and head to the sundeck at the back of your suite, lie down and admire the sky full of millions of stars. The moon then has already passed beyond your roof so it won’t outshine other stars. A binocular is a valuable toy at this moment. You are certain to catch numerous shooting stars with your naked eyes. Have your wishes handy and wish away. If you get tired, sleeping under the blanket of stars is also cool.
(f) Get up early and do some stuff you don’t normally do. Hey, it is still dark and you are wide awake, what to do? Try skinny dipping in the turquoise Indian Ocean under the stars for a while. As far as I understand, Maldives is still a Muslim country. And in broad daylight, such an adventure is out of the question. Strip in the dark, slip down the stairs off the sundeck, the lights around the stairs will expose you for a brief second or two, and you are home free about three meters out. Then splash sway. I assure you, you are very safe…But around 5:30, you’d better cover up because the sunrise will draw fellow visitors out of their suites to take pictures, and you don’t want to be spotted that way.
(g) Get up early and do some stuff you don’t normally do. On the first morning after arrival when I took an early swim, I saw a two meter long mantra ray gracing the bottom of shallow waters and a giant sea turtle swimming by me. The next morning, the surprise was a school of dolphins show jumping just off the jetty.
(h) Best snorkeling places. At Cocoa Island, you probably don’t need to go on a snorkeling trip because the house reef is so close to your suite. The Dhoni and Dhoni Loft Suites occupy the best spots leading out to the house reef. Even in low tide, you can swim for just some 30 meters to reach it, which features a steep drop-off to the bottomless ocean. At shallower waters, tones of fish already take your breath away. And at the edge of the drop-off, you can see more and awaits bigger fish to pop up from the deep ocean. Another good spot is the jetty at the end of the Dhoni lineup. The jetty is positioned right at the edge of the drop-off, so you can just bring your snorkeling equipment there, jump in and save the swimming. You don’t even need the flippers, just hold on to the foundation of the jetty and watch schools of fish swimming by. It is surreal, like you are watching a Discovery movie. An underwater cam proves handy then.
(i) Bring a pack of biscuits. No, it is not for your snack, but for feeding the fish. Sitting on the stairs off your sundeck or standing in the water, or sitting on the edge of the jetty facing the drop-off, the biscuits will boost your popularity with the colorful fish. In my case, my Dhoni Suite attracted the most fish during our stay. Besides, you don’t have to sneak out any bread after breakfast. Warning: if you submerge you fingers holding the biscuits, there could be knuckleheaded fish to take a bite of your fingers anxiously.
(j) Yoga class. Every day from 17:00 to 18:00 except Monday, there will be free Yoga class in the open air hut on the Island. My wife went the first day while I opted for a swim, and she was so happy when she got back and managed to drag me along the next day for my first Yoga session ever. There were seven of us ranging from newbie to veteran. The Yoga master took care of all of us and I survived my first Yoga class. Don’t miss this by taking a nap during that time of the day.
(k) Bring your notebook. What? Notebook at Maldives? Get out of here! I kid you not, the reception area and the Suites have free Wifi access so you can check your e-mails and portfolios daily. But that’s not what it is best used for. After we checked out and waited for the transport, we walked to the tip of the Island off the restaurant, under the full moon and Indian Ocean breeze, we watched the first episode of Jericho on DVD. That’s another unplanned yet unforgettable experience.
I already write too much. You have to experience Cocoa Island yourself, I know I will, again. To wrap it up, here is probably my best tip: once you have been to Cocoa Island, be very choosy about your next Maldives destination or you risk setting yourself up for disappointment by comparison.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- COMO Cocoa Island is a private island in the Maldives and offers measured simplicity in its design. Wrapped in white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, Cocoa Island is in close proximity to some of the best dive sites in the world. The tranquil setting is enhanced by the understated elegance of Cocoa Island’s 33 rooms, which resemble local dhoni fishing boats and feature direct access to the shallow lagoon. Ufaa, the resort’s restaurant, serves fresh local produce and seafood cooked in the Keralan style, while Faru bar overlooks the pristine infinity-edge pool. COMO Cocoa Island’s spa, COMO Shambhala Retreat, offers rebalancing treatments, including Ayurveda, reflexology and a range of recuperative massages and facials. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cocoa Island Hotel South Male Atoll
- Cocoa Island Maldives
- Hotel Cocoa Island