Still Life

Writer Stephanie Shiu | January 9, 2018

Look up any Maldivian resort and you’ll face a deluge of imagery depicting azure water and untouched shores, which however enticing, doesn’t help narrow down options based on the kind of getaway you seek. Some are better suited to families, others geared towards the jet set, all are romantic – it is the Maldives after all. But when it comes to uninterrupted downtime, Coco Bodu Hithi is as mellow as they come.

A mere 40-minute boat ride from Malé sees you surrounded by nothing but palm-fringed banks, impossibly cerulean sea and sun-speckled pathways framed by lushness. As one of the original Maldivian resorts with all-pool villas, spaces are intimate and an ideal retreat for escapism. It’s also a reminder of what taking time out should mean – pared-down days to swim, walk on the beach and simply be awestruck by nature.

Taste for Refuge

As one of the three resorts that comprise Coco Collection located in North Malé Atoll, Coco Bodu Hithi puts a distinctly contemporary spin with futuristic neon-lit bathtubs, which stand out from natural muted tones and thatched ceilings. While over-water villas typically spring to mind first when envisioning the Maldives, the island villas are the most spacious of the categories. At 188sqm, they offer complete seclusion, opening out to an exclusive patch of beach that feels very much your own with shaded loungers shrouded by lushness. Alternatively the raised daybed overlooking the private courtyard pool makes reading, taking a dip or ignoring responsibility picturesque, and completely private.

Of course you can’t go wrong with the heavenly Water Villas either, each of the 16 perched on stilts above the alluring lagoon. With the house reef literally at your doorstep, you can fritter away hours on the daybed of your private terrace after a dip. Even more lavish are the Escape Water Villas boasting a personal infinity pool with boundless views of the Indian Ocean, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows which bring the outside even more tangibly in.

There’s little need to leave the nook, perhaps with the exception of meals. Most mornings begin with a generous spread at all-day eatery Air, which showcases the full spectrum of virtuous and sinful offerings, savoured at the water’s edge while taking in the surrounding blue, which never gets old. Lunch at Latitude next door is decidedly lazy, and the place for Mexican-inspired salads and prawn sandwiches, while you decide whether the infinity pool or hammock looks more tempting. Decisions, decisions.

Dose of Hedonism

Full-board packages include a complimentary treatment at Coco Spa and a yoga session for two. With each of its eight treatment rooms overlooking the beckoning lagoon it’s almost a shame to be face down on the massage table. But with a menu filled with a plethora of restorative pampering using Parisian Thémaé products, it’s also an opportunity to turn the focus inwards. Try the Coco Fusion Massage which combines the best of shiatsu, Thai, Balinese and Swedish techniques with reflexology ensuring you emerge oil slicked and carefree. Feel free to linger before or after at the Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, sauna and steam room.

The yoga class is worthwhile, even if only to do a sun salutation with a backdrop that stunning. From sunset yoga, hatha, dynamic stretch to a sports-based session, the resort’s resident yogi will customise the experience based on ability, and incorporate elements of meditation and breathing. The tranquility of the deck, interrupted only by the splash of a leaping fish or an overzealous snorkeller, makes for an idyllic place to practise. Should you be motivated enough to make it to the gym, you’ll be rewarded with stunning lagoon views guaranteed to lighten the slog.

With water ridiculously crystal, snorkelling acquaints you with the atoll’s thriving marine life. Hawksbill turtles, specifically a family of three, are often spotted near the water villas, while the drop-off into greater depths on the east side of the island is best bet for whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays. Another 10 minutes away is home to larger nurse sharks and stingrays, while mantas are spotted at Rasfari Point or Bodu Hithi Thila. Elsewhere, expect to see everything from rainbow of Parrotfish to Oriental sweetlips darting between caricature-like coral.  Expect future underwater exploits to pale in comparison.

Wrapped in Darkness

On the subject of experiences difficult to surpass, a sunset cruise on a traditional dhoni provides an alternative perspective of the island, with champagne and canapés no less. From a distance, it embodies new grace, the curl of the boat’s bow leading a dreamy meander towards the horizon. Watch last light be swallowed by nightfall, ocean air and salt on your skin.

Back on land, epicurean flair is as much a high point in the evenings. For casual Japanese, Tsuki’s fusion sushi with offbeat additions of sriracha and cream cheese work, though not entirely authentic. Stars exudes sensuality with its near pitch-black ocean setting, showcasing excellent Mediterranean fare with pork belly and halibut particularly memorable. Asian-inspired seafood at Aqua is slightly more formal, overlooking the water’s lustrous sheen. Go for the seafood platter à deux, an impressive mountain of lobster, scallop, salmon, halibut and mussels.

If you happen to stay when the beach barbecue takes place, diving into a generous spread of sushi, salads and everything grilled is more fun with sand between your toes and the slosh of the tide your soundtrack. By far the best way to cap off an evening is a swim when the beach is at its most hushed, limpid clarity of the water magnifying every detail under the moon’s glint. Eerily placid and shrouded in cottony mist, the swirl of feet in the sand ignites the sparkle of phosphorescence under water. Just when you thought paradise couldn’t possibly be more mesmeric…

By far the best way to cap off an evening is a swim when the beach is at its most hushed, limpid clarity of the water magnifying every detail under the moon’s glint