COMO Cocoa Island

South Male Atoll, The Atolls, Maldives Book from

Reviewed by Emma Taylor
Ultra-chic resort with stilted boat-rooms, blissful spa and world-class diving and snorkelling, set on its own sand-ringed islet
Discovered by Playboy photographer Eric Klemm in the 70's, this islet is a sliver of sandy perfection, washed by warm seas in every shade of blue. It's a place to leave shoes and cares behind, enjoy caster sugar sand between your toes, sun on your back and tropical fish through your mask. Common stuff in the Maldives, perhaps; but what sets this resort apart are its location (40 mins by speedboat from Malé airport), its world-class spa (courtesy of COMO Shambhala) and its easy, laid-back atmosphere.

Moored on stilts above the turquoise lagoon, rooms are sheer style: think NY loft combined with beach-shack-chic and you’re close. There's a fantastic restaurant next to an infinity edge pool, which blends seamlessly with the sea beyond. Through the trees: a beautiful spa, an open-air yoga pavilion and massuesses who read your body like a book. This is 5-course bliss served on a plate; you need hardly move. But you should. Shuffle barefoot around the island to find a private stretch of beach; slip into crystalline waters to snorkel or dive among turtles and reef fish; book a sunset cruise or a day's deep-sea fishing.


  • Slipping from your own sundeck to a dazzling world of tropical fish, even if you're a first-time snorkeller
  • Imaginative and delicious breakfasts as the sun rises over the island, and excellent dinners and wine as it sets
  • Acclaimed massages and beauty treatments in an inspired setting
  • Accessible enough (airport to room in 40 mins) for even a short stopover en route to Sri Lanka or Kerala
  • Wonderfully designed large 'boathouses'
  • First tropical place we've visited with no mozzies


  • It's not cheap, but this is the Maldives - or is it heaven? Either way it's worth every cent
  • Leaving!

Best time to go

October to April are the months when any rain is least likely, with Feb-April being the hottest and driest period of all. This naturally means more visitors and higher prices during these months, though the island will only usually be at maximum capacity at Christmas and it could then feel a little crowded. June to October are the monsoon months, when rain is more likely, although the islands are still warm and weeks can often go by with no sign of it and you'll benefit from much lower prices from May onwards. Divers should refer to the general Maldives section for general guidance - or dive books for more detailed information.

Our top tips

A week here would be perfect, but if you are going to Kerala or Sri Lanka, it is so easy to add on a flight to Male and spend a wonderful couple of days at Cocoa. It would probably be best to do this on the way back home as other hotels may pale in comparison afterwards...

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 33
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Yoga
  • Excursions
Room: Dhoni Suites


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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Beach bag & flip-flops
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • Umbrella
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Activity: Yoga Pavillion


  • The diving is exceptional, with tuition for beginners and challenges for the experienced. And the snorkelling is equally fantastic, even for first-timers. From the back of your room you can swim to an amazing drop-off reef and spot a multitude of weird and wonderful fish who stare back at you with an equal measure of curiosity
  • For some independent exploring and dolphin-spotting, there's a catamaran which you can take out on your own, providing you have some sailing experience; and there's some good windsurfing equipment with a variety of sails (for an idea of prices see Rates)
  • There’s a small gym to work off those calories (especially if you go for the full-board option!), and the view from the open-air yoga pavilion can not fail to inspire you to join in the complimentary daily session (one-on-one is also available, along with meditation and pilates)
  • Some guests come to Cocoa Island to be pampered: the COMO Shambhala spa is world class, and feels even better after a long swim in the Indian Ocean. There’s a wide range of treatments, from rejuvenating massages to marine algae wraps. If you don’t want to splash out on spa treatments, splash out in the free hydrotheraphy pool, which pummels away your aches and pains with various strategically placed jets of water
  • Treatments available include Ayurvedic Rejeuvenation Path, the Rejeuvenation Path to calm the mind and rejeuvenate the body and the Relaxation and Restoration Path (see Rates for an idea of prices)
  • Laze around next to the pool, cocktail in hand; bake under the hot sun on the white, curving sand spit that disappears at high tide or relax on a sun lounger on your private deck watching dolphins playing on the horizon...

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga


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.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

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.

Baby equipment:

Nappies can be provided on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There's a great children's menu and freshly prepared baby food is available on request.

Families Should Know:

Due to the accommodation being set over the lagoon, young children must be well supervised at all time.

Kid Friendly:

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