The Maldives had always been one of my dream destinations – the pure white sand, turquoise sea, first-class diving and snorkelling, luxurious accommodation and the feeling of being stranded in the middle of nowhere – on our own piece of paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
When we got married a few years ago (well nearly six to be precise!), we were extremely lucky to have the works. Because we had a relatively small wedding and a week in the Amalfi Coast (see here), we decided rather than honeymooning in Italy, which would have been the most obvious choice, we’d head to the Maldives for 10 days – with the help of our friends and family who contributed to the cost of our dream holiday via our wedding gift list.
We were determined to lie like vegetables for an indeterminate amount of time; sleep; relax; snorkel and dive; and for me, stuff my face with lots of food as the diet was well and truly over… Did I really order burger and chips on room service just because I fancied it? Erm, yes I did and it was gorge!
Deciding where to stay on a relatively modest budget for the Maldives, was quite difficult. There are hundreds of amazing and super luxurious resorts on offer and most of them are very expensive. But, after much research, we decided to stay at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu in Baa Attol – a relatively small boutique resort with 98 thatched villas in total including Lagoon Villas. From all the excellent reviews we read, by all accounts, it seemed great value for money. Plus one of the draws, amongst several other factors, was the transfer to the hotel itself via sea plane. It really did feel like something out of a James Bond movie, although we were shattered after the 14-hour fight to the capital Male.
It was breathtaking to see the islands below and hard to imagine that one day these tropical paradises will disappear for good, due to rising sea levels and climate change. All the more reason to go now, while they are still there.
On arrival we were greeted with a cold towel and drink, and told we had been upgraded from a beach villa to a deluxe beach villa for the first part of our stay and that we would be staying in a Lagoon villa for the last four days of our honeymoon.
All the villas are tastefully designed, with large washing facilities and storage, as well as all the mod cons. In the case of our beach villa, an outside bathroom with a rain shower which was quite an experience in the middle of the night – and in the Lagoon Villa, a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling glass that overlooked the sea.
The rooms aside, the point is, on this type of holiday you’re not going to be spending a lot of time inside, so like giddy teenagers we pushed open the back doors to step right onto the beach. Two sun loungers and what felt like a private stretch of white sand greeted us and we couldn’t wait to get into our swimming gear and dive straight in to the warm, crystal blue water. Meanwhile, the Lagoon villa, gave us a different perspective of the island. We had our own private deck with a plunge pool with stairs leading straight into the sea.
We were also impressed with the dining options. We chose to go full-board and, in the main Cowrie restaurant each evening there was a sumptuous buffet on offer, with fresh fish and meats cooked to order; a huge array of different salads; curries; pastas and a dessert table which was bursting to full. We don’t normally like buffets, but we were never bored of the choices on offer each evening. Breakfast was also a gourmet delight – fresh fruits, juices, pastries, cheeses and meats, and eggs cooked to order. Let’s put it this way, neither of us went hungry!
• Hubby organising a private beach dinner for my 30th birthday while we were out there
• Having a his-and-her massage at the spa
• Watching the sun set over the horizon from the beach cocktail bar
• Going dolphin watching and seeing a pod of these amazing creatures swimming under and around our boat
• Snorkelling in the lagoon and seeing a turtle, a huge sting ray and reef sharks, who liked to swim under our villa
• Watching an old movie on the beach under the moon and stars with popcorn and bubbles
• Going out on a sunset boat ride with bubbles and canapés
• Trying our hand at windsurfing
• Lying around and doing absolutely nothing!
I’m not going to lie – this wasn’t the cheapest of holidays. But it was our honeymoon, and I wouldn’t have changed any part of it – it was worth every penny. Would I go back again? Probably not – only because I want to preserve the wonderful memories of our time spent here – but if we are able to, I would love to take Monkey to the Maldives, as there are plenty of child-friendly hotels which would cater for our different needs.
Coco Palm is unpretentious and unassuming, the hotel blends in with its surroundings and although there is some erosion on the island which is being stemmed by sandbags, for us it was the complete package – from the rooms, to the activities, to the hotel and the staff. We feel very lucky to have experienced this wonderful part of the world and all the natural beauty it had to offer.
Rates from £350 per night for a beach villa; but if you book via an agent, you’ll be able to pick up a package price which will include fights, accommodation, food and perhaps some extras thrown in.