Hashtag Life escaped to a beautiful, bare-foot luxury, private island hideaway: Coco Bodu Hithi Island in the Maldives.
Read our full review and recommendations on what to expect during a stay at this tranquil beach-set home away from home, below.
Most people will insist that the Maldives is a honeymooner’s or couple’s destination. Whilst that is certainly the case, I set out this summer to seek rejuvenation, harmony and reconnection with myself, and found that Coco Bodu Hithi was the perfect place to do so.
It’s difficult once you step onto Bodu Hithi Island to imagine that the effervescent city of Male is only a 40 minute boat ride away. The island is expansive enough to offer each guest seclusion and variation, whilst remaining comfortable and serene; picturesque and homely.
For the rare breeds of visitors to the Maldives who don’t instantly opt to stay in water villas, Coco offers an enviable alternative; their island villas are the largest accommodation at 188sqm and spare no luxuries. These villas offer extra privacy as they lay camouflaged between lush vegetation, and each indulge in their own private share of Coco’s sandy white beaches. A huge room hides behind an equally huge bathroom, your very own private pool. On the other side, sunken living areas in the bedroom lead onto private gardens with sundecks, loungers and daybeds – the space is enviable, the homeliness is abounding.
We opted for the Water Villa, with it being our first Maldivian experience, and of course were not disappointed. Wanting to jump head first directly from our deck, into the water, I instead took a minute to acclimatise to my new home for the next few days by dipping into our over-water pool. They call it an infinity pool, however the real infinity lies in the ocean in front of you. The pool is well-sized but not huge, and the water feels warm and soothing from the sunshine beating down onto it. The views are breathtaking and the signature bottle of CoCo Champagne helps set the mood too.
Snorkelling at Coco is a treat. Their on-site marine biologist Sonia is passionate, patient and determined to introduce you to her aquatic-friends. We took a boat out to Turtle Point with her – and here is the sad part – we didn’t see any turtles, even though we’d apparently come out at peak time for it! We did at least witness a couple of baby sharks (which may explain the Turtle-exodus) and swam by some beautiful reefs which we were pleased to see were in tact and unspoiled. Learning more about the preservative efforts that the resorts take to guard and cultivate their coral, really hits home when you are being guided through what is home to such beautiful and vulnerable marine life. Although snorkelling is perhaps the one activity available in complete abundance in the Maldives – I would highly recommend at least one trip out with Sonia, she will take you out to the hidden reefs and swim and swim with you until you have seen the wonders she knows and loves so well. It is truly an experience. Back at the Villa we went on our own turtle, sting ray and colourful sea-life sighting expeditions, and managed to check off 2 of 3!
A stop at the activities centre to take a look at their offering proved that there is much more to do here than snorkel, sunbathe and bask in your luxury villas. Amongst the usual offerings of water-sports, dolphin sighting, fishing (including big-game fishing), and sailing, the sunset cruise caught my eye as perhaps the most holistic way to experience a colourful sky on this beautiful island. The trip was planned with so much care and delicacy; from the champagne welcome to the ‘picnic’ of canapés set above the top deck for us to enjoy our own private view of the sunset from sea. It was magical because the team at CoCo strive to make it so. What I would have brushed off as a cliche and cheesy experience before my trip, has now become one of the most memorable highlights of my travels.
The dining options at Coco have their highs and lows but overall will leave your bellies satisfied and full. To start with, undeniably, the highlight of our stay: Stars is definitely a restaurant I would not tire of dining at every day. Chaminda, a young but extremely passionate and talented Chef of Sri Lankan origin, brings you hearty, tasty dishes, made with love and an abundance of creativity. Fusing his love of his home-cuisine with flavours of the East, Chaminda makes the usual dish such as duck confit taste innovative, intriguing and absolutely more-ish. We were playing the guess-the-spices game right until our dessert arrived; another work of art, a deconstructed cheesecake presented as a cigar. The deconstruction itself not only meant that I could hog my favourite part of the cheesecake, the base, but that we could yet again enjoy the unique flavours the Chef infuses into each of his dishes – even the desserts! I would certainly dine at Stars more than once, when staying at CoCo, and double check that it is included in the dining options when booking your stay!
Another winner was the barbecue night which was organised at Aqua – which overlooks – you guessed it – the seafront. Our first dinner here had been somewhat disappointing, with the fish dishes we had opted for (mahi-mahi, and a fillet of tuna – which is local to the Maldives) turning out somewhat too dry to enjoy. We later learnt, much to our surprise, that this is actually due to the climate of the local waters they grow in, and that most local fish would taste the same. This was completely overridden by our second experience where a buffet of antipasti precedes a queue of chefs ready to grill up a selection of lobster, prawns, (much more succulent) fish, and meats. A simple but tasty and abounding meal, overlooking the serene waters, and CoCos’ beautiful glistening beach, this is precisely the place to end a day of water-sporting and sun-chasing on the island.
The third of five onsite restaurants worth planning into your visit is the Japanese restaurant ‘Tsuki’ (because every hotel, every where in the world, has to have one right?!) The newly recreated menu at Tsuki offers a concentrated but well-executed menu with all their fish imported from all over the world – making for only sushi-grade quality in their dishes. Extremely special, is the juice and zingy lobster marinated and served up in its shell as a centrepiece of the entire tasting experience. The sushi rolls are popular, but I was more a fan of the simple nigiri, presented with thick cuts of fresh fish, and perfectly sticky rice.
The main restaurant, Air, situated by the beach bar Latitude, with ample beach-set tables itself, is best, in my view for the expansive breakfast spread it offers, and perhaps one of the themed nights featuring local cuisines. Finally, Latitude, is of course a must to watch the sunset from, or sit back and relax to the music or entertainment organised by the Coco team whilst enjoying island-themed, inventive cocktails, and light bites from their all-day menu.
If you’re going to visit Coco Bodu Hithi’s intimate little island, I would tell you to visit for the homeliness, visit for the intimacy, and visit for the distraction-free, no-gimmicks, authenticity of the place. The resort is non-flashy, and quite traditional in that it presents you with the blank-canvas of it’s beautiful beaches and restaurants, and the freedom to cater a unique holiday according to your taste. It is a resort which is more calm and cool, than it is jam-packed with daily itineraries or events. It is a truly lovely choice for those seeking re-calibration, intimacy, and space. Coco Body Hithi feels like the family you visit – who prepare everything with such enthusiasm for your arrival, shower you with affection and line up the many ways they wish to pamper and spoilt you during your stay. They will ask after your every need, and remember the little things which they know you especially enjoy. When your boat arrives to take you away, you will wave with enthusiasm and a slightly heavy heart, thinking of when you will next visit and see them again.
Visit: Coco Bodu Hithi
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