Quick Takeaway: Understated luxury for ultimate seclusion and relaxation
First Interaction: Greeted by multiple staffers on the jetty, taken to the open-air lobby for check in, and given a coconut drink with cold scented face towels
Hotel Amenities: 33 Rooms, 1 Restaurant, 1 Bar, Pool, Wellness Center, Gym & Large Waterjet Pool, Watersports & Dive Center.
Rooms: Lofted overwater bungalows, starting at $950/night during peak season
Room Amenities: Wifi, iHome, Minibar, Bathtub, Large Closets and Bathrooms, Water-facing Terraces, Comfortable Beds, Cable, Large TV, Spacious Living Room
The Maldives have always been on the top of our bucket list, and when prior birthday plans fell through, we jumped at the opportunity to just bite the bullet and book this trip. The Maldives are made up of 26 different atolls and over 1,000 islands, with most resorts situated on their own private island. The majority are accessible by boat or seaplane transfers from Malé, the country's capital and main international airport. COMO’s Cocoa Island is a small, beautiful, and quiet island that delivers what feels like a totally private Maldives experience. The private-island resort has 33 overwater bungalow rooms and each have amazing views of the crystal clear water, exactly as you expect to see when you think of the Maldives. While there were so many incredible moments from our stay there, our favorite thing from Cocoa Island was (hands down) the long sandbar that jutted out endlessly from one tip of the island like a walkway into the open ocean – it was the perfect spot to start every day and watch the sunrise.
How Did You Get There?
Certainly not for the travel weary, the Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka. We took an Emirates 14-hour flight from NYC to Dubai, and another 4-hour flight from Dubai to the capital city of Malé. From Malé airport, you jump on 40-minute speedboat and arrive on the tiny island in the middle of nowhere – totally worth every minute when you arrive.
How Were the Rooms?
Each of the 33 overwater bungalow suites are well situated in the crystal clear lagoon. The hotel has an understated luxury style – think more Balinese eco-lux vs. Four Seasons marble bathrooms. Many of the rooms are designed after the traditional Maldivian dhoni boats, making for a unique and authentic experience. They have several different room categories, from dhoni suites to two bedroom villas – but the difference between each level is minimal. We were lucky to get a private tour of every room type so here are some quick notes:
Dhoni Suites: Rooms 811 to 820
Dhoni Lofts: Rooms 821 to 830
Villa Lofts: Rooms 801 to 810 – These are the newest rooms and we personally felt like the best options. Rooms 801 to 805 had the clearest waters with sandy bottoms with room 806 to 810 having more of a reef bottom. Room 801 was our favorite because of its sunrise view, shallow sandy bottom, and personal sandbar right from its back terrace.
One Bedroom: Room 1001 to 1004 – These rooms are situated on a slightly more private section of the walkway jetty. The difference is minimal compared to the Villa Lofts. Room 1003 had the best views and was surrounded by the clearest waters.
Two-Bedroom Villa: Room 831 & 1005 – The two biggest rooms are perfect for larger families, with 831 having a sunset view surrounded by deeper blue waters. Room 1005 has the direct sunrise facing view and is surrounded by shallower clearer waters.
Who Was Staying At The Hotel?
- European, Australian, and Asian Couples
- No kids in sight
What Did You Do There?
While we prefer to just relax and soak up the sun anytime we escape NYC winters, COMO has a full roster of experiences to make your stay exactly what you want it to be. On the night we arrived, we walked around the entire island during sunset and then enjoyed a low-key dinner at the restaurant before knocking out from our jet lag.
On our second day, we lounged by the pool/beach, enjoyed some early afternoon cocktails, snorkeled on the reef, and then opted for a sunset cruise before dinner. We try and do a sunset cruise whenever we’re visiting new island destinations because we love getting out on the water and seeing the surrounding views. This particular cruise was incredible – we were one of three couples on a massive new boat with unlimited drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and we were lucky enough to witness various spinner and bottlenose dolphins. Before dinner, we stopped at the bar to get some espresso martinis (best we’ve ever had) and tried out their local mint grape shisha (hookah).
The next day, we woke up for our routine sunrise meditation on the island’s sandbar, popped into the gym for a quick sweat, plunged in the wellness center’s pool, and then headed to breakfast. After filling up on endless tropical fruits, jams, juices, and traditional Maldivian specialties, we hunkered back down by the beach to read and relax. We also took advantage of the islands water activities and took out glass-bottom kayaks to explore the nearby reef. The afternoon took an unexpected, but very welcomed, turn when one of the couples from our sunset cruise sent over a round of cocktails. Next thing we know, we’re sharing travel stories, ordering multiple bottles of wine, and eating a late seafood lunch feast. Not satisfied parting ways, we decided to do dinner together and take advantage of the hotel’s weekly Thai dinner special.
The next day, we woke up early for our last sunrise at the sandbar before packing up and heading to our next island destination.
What DO YOU WISH YOU HAD MORE TIME TO DO?
- Whale shark excursion
- Couples massage
- Private sunset dinner at the sandbar
How were the Food and Drinks?
Although there was only one restaurant, the chef and menu at Ufaa did not disappoint. The menu was perfectly varied and fresh, with everything from traditional Maldivian dishes, Mediterranean classics, and even a light Shambhala Spa (healthy) menu which changed daily. You never have to eat the same thing twice and can choose between a poolside table in the sand or have it delivered to your suite. Breakfast was included, unlimited, and was incredible. There is an impressive wine list and cocktail menu as well. Some of the highlights were:
Breakfast: Smoked salmon and avocado on multi-grain toast. Passionfruit muesli. Fresh juices. Locally-made peanut butter and berry jam.
Lunch: Prawn pizza. Lobster roll. Anything with tuna!
Dinner: Grilled cod with miso broth and mushrooms. Seared yellowfin tuna. Scallops. Seafood fritto.
Wine: Glasses started at $14 and bottles at $65. Great selection all around.
Cocktail: Drinks ranged from $15-18. We loved the Cocoa Special, Red Shell, and Espresso Martini.