A Maldivian honoring greeting “Assalamu Alaikum” conveys a fervently peaceful message that denotes the Islamic culture of the Maldivian people. Maldivians welcome visitors with open arms, to share their naturally beautiful shores which, for centuries, have always been a haven of tranquility for travelers. The word “Maldives” means necklace of islands. The Maldives is located in the southwest of India and is composed of islands grouped in ring-like formations which look like necklaces or garlands from the air. With its location on the equatorial belt, Maldives has a tropical warm climate and abundant sunshine throughout the year.
Three months ago, my family and I had a short and very pleasing stay at Maldives, leaving behind all our hectic schedule and busy activities, to enjoy a total relaxation on a small remote gorgeous island, the Cocoa Island Resort. Cocoa Island Resort is a private tiny island in the southeast of Male atoll (i.e., the capital island of Maldives), with a beautiful lagoon, amazing house reef, crystal clear water and white sandy beach around the island. Cocoa Island Resort, which is part of the COMO group, offers an access to COMO Shambala Retreat – a world class spa . It is a perfect place for pampering ourselves. The spa also has an Ayurveda, an ancient Indian tradition of healing, which helps rebalance our body, minds and soul using all natural treatments. The complimentary daily yoga should not be missed when you stay there. The hydrotherapy pool is also a big plus, which can rejuvenate and refresh our body.
We arrived there without a big plan. Our main priority was only to rest, relax, and enjoy a quality family time together. Travelling with our new 7-month-old baby girl, Shiori, was somewhat challenging but certainly very entertaining. The key was to enjoy every precious moment with her.
Our activities in Maldives were simply doing nothing but relaxing at the resort. We woke up in the morning, sitting on our overwater bungalow deck while enjoying the sunrise and the gorgeous views, and sometimes jumping into the lagoon from our deck before breakfast. One day we booked a spa massage for my mom, but unfortunately my spa session had to be called off because of the need to take care my precious Shiori. Additionally, we also joined their complimentary yoga class every afternoon. The yoga class was easy to follow. The teacher was from India and well experienced. In the end of the class, a cold towel along with a Como Shambala ginger tea was provided for your enjoyment.
Diving is another popular activity at Maldives. Not only Maldives has some excellent coral reefs but it is also well known for its abundant and very diverse fish life that sets it apart from other dive destinations. Numerous channels between atolls allow nutrients to always circulate the Maldives through the currents’ sweep. This results in a vast number of fish consuming the passing feast. I started diving at Maldives with no high expectations, because I knew that Indonesia had much better dive sites. But then the reality of diving in Maldives was really above my expectations. I was truly amazed with the quantity and diversity of the fish I saw. The dive instructor even said that I was fortunate at that time to see unusually diverse assemblage of fish during the dive. He said we could not have a better dive than that in that particular area. I saw napoleon fish, moray eels, tunas, eagle rays, gray reef sharks, sea turtles and many other kinds of fish schooling during my dive trip. For non divers, snorkeling around the house reef is a must. Cocoa has direct access from your overwater bungalow to the house reef. Even though the corals are not very beautiful (compared to Indo-Pacific corals) but you can see various different kinds of marine life around the house reef. It is truly an unforgettable experience.
Now let’s talk about food at Cocoa Island Resort. Located by the sea and the resort’s infinity pool, Ufaa restaurant offers fine Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. Interestingly, Ufaa was presided over by an Italian Chef. They had a daily menu that always changes day to day so we could always try something new. The food was excellent. The seafood was always served fresh and tasty. In addition to daily menu, the restaurant also offered a set of Indian and Thai dinner menu on selected days. For a romantic and memorable dinner experience, you can ask your butlers to prepare a private candle-light dinner under a simple tent by the beach with water lapping at your toes.
We also went for a private dolphin watching cruise during sunset. We probably saw more than a hundred dolphins rhythmically dancing and playing with each other. The dolphins were friendly and swimming very close to our boat. It was a fabulous ending to our stay at Cocoa Island Resort before we returned to Male to catch our flight back to Indonesia.