Best of the Maldives: Zen – Cocoa Island

Cocoa Island Zen

Today’s post is inspired by author and blogger Adrian Neville who is currently on a tour of the Maldives and tweeting about it as he goes. Earlier this week, he stopped by Cocoa Island. His tweets went…

SevenMaldives: Cocoa is the Zen resort of the Maldives.”

SevenMaldives: Cocoa: less is more when perfectly tended like a zen garden – interiors, landcape and cuisine. so so calm

Master Adrian’s enlightened opinion is good enough for me.

Best of the Maldives: Tub – Dhonakulhi

Island Hideaway Tub 1


One popular feature that I do adore is the al fresco bathing. It is not an uncommon luxury feature of tropical resort, but they are typically secluded to a sheltered back garden. But if you want the experience with elegance, style, comfort and a view, the Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi has really nailed it with their Hideaway Water Suite. The tub is perched right on the best view of the ocean.

It reminded me of our stay at Londolozi Game Lodge in South Africa where the designers had smartly put the elegant tub by a big window overlooking the river down below. You could watch the elephants bathing while you had your own scrub.

And if you can’t or don’t want to spring for the posh Water Suite, you still can partake of a lagoon-vista’ed soak at their Mandara Spa (see below).

Dhonakulhi Island Hideaway Mandara Spa

Best of the Maldives: Online Community – Kuredu

Kuredu Forum


While TripAdvisor is the granddaddy of the general travel community/forums, many resorts are setting up their own online communities on their websites just focused on their resorts. Some of these have scant posts and interactions (and one in particular falls afoul of poor attitude by the administrator), but one resort online community stands out as vibrant, easy to use and friendly – Kuredu.

Best of the Maldives: Experienced – Kurumba

Kurumba reception

This week happens to be my birthday (yay!…thanks), and actually, this it also marks the year-and-a-half milestone for Maldives Complete itself. In fact, the 100th post is just a few weeks away (this one is #95). Many people think that folks of my vintage start to dread their birthdays, but actually I am finding that I enjoy them more and more. There is a certain charm and dignity to the wisdom of the ages and the experience of a lifetime.

And speaking of ‘experiences of a lifetime’ brings me right back to the subject at hand…Maldives resorts. As it happens the resort with the biggest bragging rights on time tempered experience and the most birthdays to its name is where our family celebrated our own holidays this year – Kurumba.

Kurumba is the very first resort to ever open in the Maldives. Active since 1972 when Maldives was sort of a hidden gem for a select in-the-know divers and sailors, the resort has built a longstanding reputation and infrastructure which has served some of the most illustrious names including US Presidents George Bush Snr. and Bill Clinton. It has had its share of facelifts and tummy-tucks (complete renovation in 2003) so it still maintains a freshness amidst its grandeur of seniority.

Best of the Maldives: Most Exclusive – Dhoni Island

Dhoni Island Island

Two qualities describing the Maldives go hand in hand – tiny and exclusive. So what is the smallest and most exclusive of them all?

According to my most effective investigator on the Maldives, Francis, Dhoni Island squeaks in…

Rania of course is only bookable by one person but i think you can have 24 people there… Dhoni Island only 12 max and most of the time some of those will be on the Dhoni at night so I would say Dhoni probably has least people on it and it is a small island too…..”

Best of the Maldives: Recommended All Inclusive – Athuruga

Athuruga All Inclusive

An example of the kinds of questions that TripAdvsior Forum and its experts can help you with was a topic that comes up regularly – ‘All Inclusive’ packages. Many guests are drawn to the notion of all-inclusive so they can truly relax without worrying how much more in ‘extras’ they are going to rack up at the end of their already wallet-biting holiday. But what is included in ‘AI’ packages varies dramatically. Typically, they do include drinks, but some resorts have only a limited selection of drinks available to AI guests and all other drinks are extra. Some activities are included and others are not in places.

According to Spammie, one of the top all-time Maldives destination experts, Athuruga is the premier offering when it comes to ‘all inclusive’

to my knowledge, there are only two resorts that will give you “real AI” – without the dreaded exclusions that mount up to a big bill at the end – as their base standard. the newly refurbished Athuruga and its sister island Thudufushi , which is due to close for refurbishment over this summer. depending on when you are planning to go, Athuruga is your only choice.”

Best of Maldives Online: Community – Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor - Maldives Forum


In my research for various esoteric details about the Maldives resorts, the assortment of online forums are invaluable resources for tapping into the broad and deep expertise out in the world of both visitors sharing their experiences to afficionados who are Mastermind experts on the subject of the Maldives. Most of the prominent travel publications offer forums (eg. Fodors, Frommer, Lonely Planet), but they all absolutely pale in comparison to the grandmaster of them all: TripAdvisor.

I track, access and participate in the other forums from time to time and find that they get entries maybe once a week on average. TripAdvisor can get entries every hour just on the Maldives. Moreover, on other forums, your question will often linger unanswered. TripAdvisor posts typically get some sort of response within the day and can trigger dozens of replies for a particularly intriguing subject.

The greatest asset, though, are the ‘Destination Experts’. These are people with a knowledge of the Maldives as deep as their passion for them. The top expert, ActiveGirl, has 3,418 forum posts to her credit. And the other top contributors all have over 1,000 themselves.

In addition, to the unparalleled expertise that is generously shared out, the forum is one of the few that I have been to that truly lives up to the notion of being a ‘community’. A lot of the participants know each other and many of the posts are done with humour and levity and good natured banter.

Helpful Tips – Some of the newbies to the forum jump right in with big, broad questions like ‘I’m going to the Maldives on my honeymoon, where is the best resort?’ Try to focus your questions a bit by giving some of your key concerns, preferences, etc. The more specific and challenging the question, the more assistance the experts can provide. Secondly, if you do have a specific question, given TA’s hoard of over 15,000 posts just on the Maldives, there is a very good chance that someone has already asked it, so use the search facility on the site to see if you can’t find the answer straight away without having to do a post.

Best of the Maldives: Bedroom – Conrad Maldives Rangali

Rangali underwater bedroom


Many Maldives bedrooms have some distinctive views and the water bungalows certainly give you that up close view of the aquarium-like ocean around. But if you want more up close and more aquarium and more ‘surround’ than ‘around’, then the big news out of the Maldives this month is the introduction of Conrad Maldives Rangali’s ‘underwater bedroom’ experience.

Rangali has taken what was one of the all-time best ‘Best Of’ features (and the very first featured on Maldives Complete), the Ithaa underwater restaurant, and extends the use of this great space during the graveyard shift by transforming it into a bedroom.

Luxury Insider reports that “After a champagne dinner, what is normally the 12-seat restaurant will be rearranged into a double bedroom while breakfast will be served in bed.”

Gives a more inspiring connotation to the colloquialism ‘sleeping with the fishes’.

Best of the Maldives: Pavilion – Taj Exotica

Taj Exotica Ocean Pavillion Sakis

(Photo included with permission from Sakis)

Dreaming of Maldives, another of Sakis creations both inspired another ‘Best of’ selection as well as a bit of a treasure hunt to figure out exactly where it was (see the comments section on his site).

Many resorts offer some exclusive pavilion for a special or romantic meal. Of course, for that ultimate in secluded romance there is the off shore, on a sand-spit BBQ that some resorts can arrange for you as a special excursion. But if you want that off shore remoteness with the comfort and solidity of your own little pavilion, then you need to go to Taj Exotica.

Sally Rushbrooke reviews

“If you want your Maldives holiday to be particularly romantic, you can arrange a meal for two at the Ocean Pavilion. The Pavilion is a stand alone wooden deck in the middle of the Indian Ocean and located a mile off shore. The deck is only reachable by boat and if you decide that you want to treat a loved one to this experience, then staff will sail you to the venue by boat and leave you with a mobile phone, so that you can call them when you wish to be collected. Due to the location, all the food served is chilled lobster, caviar and chilled champagne all feature on the set menu. The Pavilion is decorated with comfortable cushions, candles, lanterns and flowers which all serve to make the venue that little more romantic.”


If you can believe it, you can go to the Google Map on the Taj Exotica profile and see it for yourself.

Best of Maldives Online – Photography

Dreaming of the Maldives

The startling natural beauty of the Maldives has inspired legions of photographers professional and amateur alike. A design choice of MaldivesComplete was to have the iconic imagery of the blues and whites filling the browser page as the background so that visitors would sort of feel immersed in this distinctive locale while you conducted your investigation.

If your holiday snaps don’t quite capture the breathtaking beauty you recall from your visit, then a whole range of online sites offer piles to choose from. In the public sites, like Flickr and Facebook, you can find some truly marvellous images. But if you want a sure fire collection of some of the most dazzling pictures ever captured, the top Maldives photo site has to be ‘Dreaming of Maldives’. Sakis, the photographer behind it, is offering a special deal of free 2010 calendar when you buy his photo book. I bought these recently and they are truly gorgeous (and the pictures in the calendar are different to those in the book).