Recognised as a paradisal honeymoon destination, the island nation of the Maldives is more than just powder white sandy and crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. The collection of 1,200 islands spread across 26 atolls and represents a destination that offers high-end luxury, outdoor adventure and relaxation in the heart of the Indian ocean.
We spent four days at the beautiful Coco Body Hithi Resort on the North Male Atoll during the Eid break, but rather than taking to the waves for snorkelling and marine adventures, our feet were planted firmly on land. Our visit coincided with a chefs residency from acclaimed Chef Colin Clague who avid readers will know as the Executive Chef of Rüya Dubai. Our culinary adventure included a masterclass in which we learnt to make Rüya’s signature Levrek. A dish of seabass sashimi with mustard, apple, and shaved radish (the key is a cold plate and top quality fish). The informal masterclass taught us the basics as we assisted in bringing Turkish cuisine to the shores of Coco Bodu Hithi.
The island itself represents a slice of paradise with its reef fringed waters, palm tree flanked beaches, memorial Maldivian sunsets and we were delighted to play the role of castaways, albeit with a somewhat luxurious slant, while exploring the small island.
Offering several accommodation options and a total of 100 villas the picture-postcard expectation of the Maldives would usually involve an over-water villa but we’d highly suggest considering the Island Villa as an alternative. Offering direct access to the ocean via an exclusive patch of the private beach the island villas are much larger, clocking in at a more than generous 188SQM. The ideal island retreat, these open-plan villas encompasses a spacious master bedroom featuring a comfortable king-sized bed, a sunken living area with wrap around couch and flat-screen television. Plus separate WC and shower areas. In the middle of the space lies a deep circular bathtub which is almost as appealing as the private pool.
The pool provides a more expansive body of water than expected and represents more than just a space to plunge. Boasting a depth and length that allows guests the chance to actually to swim. Located within a courtyard planted with lush vegetation, the first of two outdoor areas that flank the villa blends seamlessly into the surrounding jungle where fruit pats flap overhead and lizards dart about in search of shade. A pair of sun loungers, an elevated daybed situated over the pool on a raised dais and an outdoor shower complete the picture of privacy. When compared to the over-water villas the pool in these island villas is not overlooked, making it a preferential option for those in search of complete isolation.
A beachfront terrace includes a small deck the bridges the area between vegetation and sand and affords glimpses of the turquoise ocean through the shaded tree-line while presenting direct access to the beach and its warm shallow waters filled with blacktip reef sharks and skittish crabs.
With pretty thatched roofs, each villa has been designed using traditional Maldivian materials which add a rustic simplicity to the charming castaway feel. Yet a sense of luxury prevails with guests needs easily catered for in a villa that you’ll most likely not want to leave during the duration of your stay in paradise.
Six restaurants and bars ensure that Coco Bodu Hithi encourages guests to partake in a culinary journey around the island during their stay. Dining options include elevated wine lofts or upon wooden platforms suspended above the waves while watching the sun sinks below the horizon. Coco Body Hithi represents the epitome of destination dining with many cuisines represented. The international buffet at Air overlooks the tranquil infinity pool, where blue waters blend with both the ocean and the sky to create an unforgettable colour palate.
Sushi and sashimi come from the small but impressive sushi bar at Tsuki. While fine-dining restaurant Stars boasts unrivalled views of the night sky, which if you dine on a clear day will likely leave you awe-struck. Latitude is the place to go for light bites and poolside snacks – think salads, sandwiches and pizzas accompanied by a cheeky cocktail (or two).
A twice-weekly beachside BBQ is offered at Breeze, allowing guests to dine on fresh seafood with their toes in the sand. Or for those looking to embrace true Maldivian privacy and exclusivity, in-villa dining is offered. Complete with floating breakfast trays for the ultimate Instagram snap.
Our preference for dining would be seafood spot Aqua. Fully embracing the elemental name and the theme of water, the menu usually revolves around shellfish and sunsets but the night we dine re-connects us with Chef Colin Clague for a specially curated six-course menu of Anatolian flavours.
Having worked as part of the opening team at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and high-end Japanese izakaya concept Zuma, Clague’s penchant for flavour and high-quality ingredients is enviable and we’re impressed at the consistency of the dishes and how they’re identical in taste to their Dubai counterparts, despite the notorious difficulties surrounding the sourcing of ingredients in the Maldives. The menu boasted six of Rüya’s most popular dishes including 300-day grain-fed beef with a robust Turkish coffee and isot rub, the moreish filo-wrapped feta cheese Borek and (our personal favourite), Firin Sutlaç – a traditional Anatolian rice pudding enhance via sweet lokum and the subtle use of rose.
Located on a wooden boardwalk that seemingly hovers above the calm waters of the Indian Ocean that is alive with turtles and stingrays, lies the Coco Spa. Six overwater pavilions make for soothing treatment rooms for both individuals and couples and provide the ideal location to focus on wellbeing and self-renewal. The glass floors within the treatment rooms add a nice touch and the underwater world with its abidance of marine life makes for a serene visual to accompany massages rituals and beautifying body therapies. The Spa area also features a sauna and steam room, yoga studio and a small but adequate fitness centre. Again privacy is a priority and all spa treatments are also offered in-villa to ensure complete comfort and discretion for guests.
Dotted around the perimeter of the sandy island is the water-sports centre where complimentary kayaks and snorkelling equipment can be used to navigate the crystal clear waters. Motorized water-sports such as jet-skiing wake-boarding and catamaran sailing are offered at an additional fee. The dive centre is a hub of activity and is frequented by most visitors to the island for both PADI certification and excursions. For Coco Bodu Hithi is renowned for its spectacular and well-preserved house reef, home to fascinating coral caverns teeming with colourful fish.
Tennis courts, a meeting room, small boutique, and the marine biology centre also feature prominently amongst the sandy pathways of the island.
The beauty of a resort-like the Coco Body Hithi is accessibility. A brief speedboat ride brings guests to the pristine island paradise from Malé. With so many resorts in the Maldives vying for the attention of holidaymakers, the ease of transit is a make or break decision when it comes to choosing a resort. Combine this with the beautifully appointed villas and eclectic dining options at the Coco Body Hithi and it’s a no brainer.
Out & About UAE were guests of Coco Bodu Hithi and all views are our own.