Overwater villas (with kid-safety gates), snorkelling with baby sharks at the house reef, daily yoga, a stellar spa and delicious dining, make Como Cocoa Island in the Maldives a dream destination
The tropical paradise of the Maldives is one of those bucket list destinations – so much so that before our recent trip we initially feared our expectations might be set too high. Como Cocoa Island, situated on the tiny island of Makunufushi, exceeded our high hopes and turned out to be one of those dream destinations. Como is a brand we love here at Sassy Mama: they always pay such incredible attention to detail, from the daily yoga, to the delicious cuisine, to the overwater villas looking onto the colourful marine life. Here’s how Como Cocoa hit all the high notes and makes a memorable holiday for a couples retreat or a family holiday alike…
Easy Access from Singapore
Singapore Airlines and Scoot fly direct to Malé (around 4 hours). Many resorts in the Maldives are a seaplane ride from the airport. Como Cocoa Island is conveniently located 40 minutes from Male by Wi-Fi enabled speedboat – ready and waiting with refreshing towels and friendly smiles at any time of the day (or night), so no time is lost waiting for the transfer to paradise.
Como Cocoa Island is one of the smaller island resorts making it the perfect choice for boutique hotel lovers. You can walk around the island in less than 20 minutes! Como Cocoa is featured on Mr and Mrs Smith as well as Scott Dunn – a double seal of approval. With all the rooms being over-water, the island itself only houses one bar, one restaurant, a swimming pool, a fitness area complete with gym and hydrotherapy pool, steam room and spa and water sports and diving centre. The 2:1 staff to guest ratio shows how much guests here enjoy the exclusivity of this resort (and how well taken care of they are).
While the sister property Como Maalifushi is the bigger draw of the two for families offering a kids club, cinema nights and motorised water sports to keep teens happy, Como Cocoa will appeal to those looking for unstructured calm (though you can actually split your stay between both resorts if you wish). There are no motorised sports at Como Cocoa and no kids club, so entertainment here centres around nature, the sea and the beach – in other words exactly what you came to the Maldives for.
Older kids can snorkel, scuba dive, windsurf and kayak and there’ s a long list of excursions from turtle spotting to dolphin watching that families can embark on. Those with younger kids can build sandcastles (free beach toys are provided), swim in the shallow clear sea or splash in the pool. Babysitters are available (US$15/hr) for when mama and papa want to do a yoga session, have a massage or just enjoy the Maldives without the rugrats for a while (no judgement!).
Read more: Kid-friendly destinations in Asia
Exclusive Overwater villas & Kids’ Safety
COMO Cocoa has 33 water villas on stilts over the turquoise ocean, each with a private terrace complete with sunbeds. Inspired by the Maldives’ local fishing boats, the Dhoni Suites look like boats from the exterior, but once inside, the Como aesthetic remains with signature whites, cotton drapes, white lounge furniture and Italian linens. As much as Como Cocoa reflects s a luxe Robinson Crusoe design, the facilities are modern with walk-in showers, roll-top bathtubs, desalinated water in the bathroom, Wi-Fi throughout, flat screen TVs and DVD player (with an expansive complimentary DVD library), ceiling fans and aircon.
If you are travelling with small kids it’s reassuring to know that they can section off the balcony and water access to make your overwater villa kid safe for littlies. Cribs and highchairs are available complimentary.
What to Do
Most of the appeal of Como Cocoa is in the barefoot relaxation and just ‘being’ in paradise. But for those who need to be active here’s what you can get up to on the island:
- Snorkelling: You can open your balcony doors and slip into the sea for snorkelling, where you’ll be almost guaranteed to see black tip reef sharks, exquisitely coloured parrotfish, green turtles or hawksbill turtles if you’re lucky, plus eagle ray and manta ray, and moray eel amongst other colourful fish.
- Scuba diving: If you’re a diver there’s a dive centre at Como for dive trips further afield, but we actually saw more snorkelling off the house reef in front of our villa than we saw on our dive. So, you may want to save your pennies for a sunset cruise where you might be escorted back to the island by a pod of dolphins.
- Yoga: There’s a yoga pavilion where an instructor teaches complimentary yoga (followed by Como Shambhala’s incredible sweet ginger tea). The morning yoga session on the sandbar at sunrise is something really special and absolutely worth the early wake-up call.
- Massage: The COMO Shambhala Spa is famous in its own right and therapists can massage any aches and pains away – definitely don’t miss out on the COMO Shambhala signature massage for total bliss out.
- Fitness: There is a gym and a stunningly designed hydrotherapy pool (with jets of water in varying powerfulness to pummel any muscle soreness), plus non-motorised water sports equipment (wind sailing, kayaks, paddle boards) which can be used at no fee.
- Excursions: From snorkelling with whale sharks, to fishing trips, picnics on far-flung sandbars, and a sunset cruise where dolphins are often spotted, there’s something for everyone. That is, if you can bear to leave the island.
Clean Eats and Delicious Dining
As Como Cocoa is a boutique property, there’s only one bar — Faru, which has great sunset views across the ocean, while Ufaa, the resort’s only restaurant, overlooks the pool, a strip of white beach and then the turquoise sea, and specialises in South Indian and Asian dishes. There’s a separate menu by Como Shambhala for clean eating options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The dinner menu changes regularly with themed diners offered alongside the a la carte menu, ranging from Indian thali to Thai or Seafood. Everything is made in-house, from the breakfast croissants, and muffins to the pasta; as well as the seed crackers served with cashew hummus, the Maldivian breakfast curry served with roti, and the unmissable ice cream in a myriad of flavours (banana caramel, raspberry, sesame and coconut). If you’ve got an anniversary or honeymoon to celebrate, Como Cocoa can even organise a romantic meal on a private beach by candlelight.
Without a doubt, what takes Como Cocoa into a different level of wow is the staff. Friendly and forever smiling, there is always someone on hand to offer help, ask how your day is going (always amazingly, thank you!) and cater to your every need (often before you realise you need it!).
If you’re looking for a celebration destination, as a couple or a dream family holiday with kids, Como Cocoa Island awaits with arms outstretched to welcome you ‘home’. I’ll warn you now though, it is very hard to leave.
Rates at Como Cocoa Island start from SG$1062.71 (US$810), excluding tax at 23.2 percent.
Como Cocoa Island, South Male Atoll, Maafushi, 08480, Maldives, 00 960 664 1818, www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland