“Ultra-chic resort with stilted boat-rooms, blissful spa and world-class diving and snorkelling, set on its own sand-ringed islet”
Of the 33 villas and suites, half are dhonis, built like traditional fishing boats. Every room is set on stilts over the water, with baby sharks and reef fish circling them, they're reached by a serpentine wooden walkway from the island. The rooms are filled with light, thanks to the floor to ceiling windows facing the ocean. They're also full of creature comforts (air-conditioning, ceiling fan, minibar, coffee machines, flatscreen TV/DVD, Italian bedlinen on ridiculously comfortable beds) inside a minimalist shell of natural fabrics. Bathrooms are enormous, with separate shower and bathtub, large wardrobes and lots of deliciously scented COMO Shambhala products. There are lots of thoughtful touches, from the separate air-conditioning in the bathroom to the strategically placed porthole near your bed for a cooling night-time breeze. A member of staff is assigned to your room 24/7, but we doubt you’ll need to call him.
The equivalent of a standard room are the open-plan Dhoni Suites - the bed is raised on a platform next to the sitting room, facing your own sun-faded deck, with steps into the sea. It's worth spending a little extra for the double decker Dhoni Loft Suites. They have a large mezzanine creating an ensuite bedroom, meaning double the space downstairs. The more conventional-looking Loft Villas have the same layout, with the addition of an outdoor shower. From these you have a fantastic view without even having to lift your head from the pillow.
If the rooms lack anything, it's privacy: they're lined up alongside each other along the walkway without any vegetation between them. However, your sundeck is private from the adjacent properties. For more space and seclusion, the One Bedroom Villas offer a larger living room, several sun decks, outdoor shower, all set apart from the other properties. Even bigger, are the enormous 2-bedroom COMO Villas (named Sunrise and Sunset) also equipped with kitchen and private butler. From Sunrise you can walk through the lagoon for what feels like miles; from the Sunset you have fantastic (and virtually private) snorkelling outside your room and even a private jetty for that special arrival.
At the Ufaa restaurant you sit beneath a thatched pavilion of alang alang grass on large sofas swamped with soft cushions - perfect for lazy lounging. There’s no fussy formality here and the emphasis in all the communal areas is on the sheer natural beauty of the place - even the toilets look out to sea, cleverly hidden behind green bushes.
Breakfast is fabulous - a buffet of the freshest fruit, the sweetest pastries and the healthiest juices. There is also an ever-changing list of freshly cooked dishes: not just bacon and eggs, but more adventurous creations such as smoked salmon on brioche with lemon-infused ricotta and banana pancakes with walnuts and a blueberry coulis.
In the evening, gaze out over reddening seas while browsing a varied dinner menu of seafood and tandoori. The energetic Australian chef combines Indian, Sri Lankan and Thai styles, going light on spice and heavy on local produce, and the results are colouful and tasty, and on a par with top restaurants in cities across the world. There is a high percentage of vegetarian dishes on all menus such as tandoor aubergine with organic brown rice pilaf. Don't be surprised if, during a 2-week stay, you see some repetition: there's a limit to what you can ship in. But there's an impressive wine list to match the food, plus some excellent energising juices. For those of you travelling with babies, you'll be pleased to hear that freshly prepared purées and mini meals are available for the globe-trotting tot.
Unless you have a vast appetite, the full-board option is too much - we didn’t think it was possible to eat so much in one day - half board is definitely enough. Those with a smaller appetite should stick to a la carte; the prices are quite reasonable, given the location and the quality.
If you want to come back from Cocoa Island a few pounds lighter (and I'm not referring to your wallet), choose the healthy COMO Shambhala-inspired items on the menu: even their egg-white omelette tastes divine.
You can, of course, arrange for breakfast on your sundeck, or dinner in a private location on the beach.
Children are welcome at Cocoa Island, but there are no specific children’s facilities. It would suit very young children with it's mozzie-free, spacious rooms or older children who enjoy water-based activities.
Toddlers (1-4 years), Teens (over 12)
The 2-bedroom COMO villas are geared up for families with their kitchen/butler facilities and room for children. Children up to 3 years free of charge. 4-12 years are charged a supplement; only 1 child up to 12 can share parents' room. 13 years and above charged as adult.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Nappies can be provided on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a great children's menu and freshly prepared baby food is available on request.
Due to the accommodation being set over the lagoon, young children must be well supervised at all time.