Home to some of the best beaches in the world, the Maldives offers an abundance of unrivalled luxury, white sandy beaches and a supreme underwater world, making it the perfect choice for a trip of a lifetime. The necklace of islands in the Indian Ocean defines many people’s idea of balmy perfection: blissful blue lagoons, coral reefs and seclusion, only granted due to the country’s multiple islands offering privacy like no other.
With nearly 1200 islands providing postcard picture moments, no two are ever quite the same. Every resort in Maldives is its own hidden oasis, and with over 100 hotels to choose from the only problem is selecting where you want to stay.
On this particular adventure, we travelled across the ocean by a tiny plane to the island of COMO Maalifushi, the first and only resort to open on the unspoilt Thaa Atoll, in the archipelago’s southern reaches, a spot well regarded for its diving and superb surf breaks. Accessed only by a 60-minute seaplane journey from the islands’ capital, Malé, the idyllic spot greets you with jungle greens, palm trees and tropical feels, complete with stunning panoramic views across white sands and crystal-clear seas.
Before you explore the world’s best coral reefs or indulge in some first-class food at this remote island retreat, prepare the check into one of the Maldives’ most beautiful hotel rooms. COMO Maalifushi’s accommodation includes 33 overwater villas and suites, and 32 beach villas, suites and garden rooms, all built of yellow balau with Kajan thatched roofs, referencing indigenous architecture while remaining elegantly pared back to reflect the island’s calming setting. Whilst the stunning overwater suites and villas are built off wooden walkways that stand above the shallow lagoon, each with its own private terrace and pool, the garden villas and suites are set within the folds of the island’s lush tropical vegetation — yet still only twenty steps from the beach’s high tide mark.
With captivating views around every corner, our favourite over water villas came in the form of the ultimate Maalifushi Water Villa and the serene COMO Villas. Whilst the Maalifushi Water Villa offers the ultimate luxury experience, each with its own private pool and butler, the COMO Villas are definitely the resort’s most spectacular. Oversized and fitted with two-bedrooms, these light-filled bungalows sit on the water’s edge, featuring a private pool and stunning sundeck – to put it bluntly, I have never seen such a mesmerising space in my life. With a choice of three sitting rooms, ample outdoor space, a private pool, a bathtub that is pretty much in the sea plus a walk-in wardrobe (which is the size of my room at home), this villa is quite literally a Maldivian dream!
Back on land, there are an abundance of sun-drenched sleeping options to choose from. The 7 one-bedroom Beach Villas all have their own access to the beach as well as their own private pool. Elegant, simple interiors are lit up with large windows to make the most of the island setting with French doors giving you access from the bedroom to the terrace and pool. Meanwhile, the sophisticated COMO Residence remains the icing on top of the COMO cake. A two-storey masterpiece with four-bedrooms, the COMO Residence offers all the comfort that one would expect from a luxury COMO resort, combining endless sea views with a contemporary living area, spacious media room and full kitchen. The sundeck is completed with loungers and furniture suitable for private dining, with butler service included. To compliment COMO’s luxury touch, the bathroom toiletries are not only top notch, but also crafted in-house by Shambhala Spa.
Whilst living your best island life solely in the gorgeous villas might seem tempting, I urge you to get outdoors and make the most of the excellent activities and range of dining options – another highlight of life at COMO Maalifushi. With three restaurants under their belt, start with Madi, the hotel’s all-day dining option. Translating to ‘manta ray’ in Maldivian, here you will find traditional favourites from Mediterranean to Indonesian and Thai. Madi also holds themed nights, including a seafood barbeque and a ‘Thali’ evening focusing on south Indian specialties. There is also Tai, our favourite island hideaway, serving fresh and local seafood with a speciality sushi bar offering a slice of Japan in the heart of the Maldives. We loved the Unagi topped with Eel, the Doctor Cocos and the playful nurse sharks that kept us entertained in the floodlit shallows. Last but by no means least, there is Thila, a small, scrumptious eatery named after the Maldivian submerged reef formations. Here you will find everything you could ever imagine – from salads, freshly baked seafood, pizzas and even Turkish ‘pide’, Thila has it all! There is also music, billiards and an open-air pool bar. It’s family friendly and relaxed – the perfect combination for island life.
Whilst these might be the only physical restaurants on the deserted island, there are plenty of other dining options to be explored. The island of Lavadhoo, a deserted sandbank only 5 to 10 minutes away offers a luxury castaway experience where you can explore sea life, land trekking as well as a delicious island BBQ, where a private chef serves everything from fresh fish to succulent meat. The team can also prepare and perfect any sort of celebration from a romantic dinner for two under a canopy of stars or a family picnic on deserted shores. For the ultimate indulgence, there is the sunrise Champagne breakfast. Then there is COMO Shambhala Cuisine – the brand’s unique nutritional concept that incorporates organic ingredients rich in living enzymes, vitamins and sea minerals while still delivering on flavour. The menu showcases dishes that are raw, steamed or grilled for maximum health benefits and the chefs also make ample use of the tandoor, a type of Indian oven allowing for fat-free cooking whilst introducing a wonderful charcoal flavour – this unique collection of dishes allows for a mid-holiday detox, a day of juicing, or a holiday on a tailored meal plan – you want it, COMO can make the magic happen.
The entire COMO Shambhala ethos follows a philosophy for healthy living that has been successfully refined at its award-winning retreats all over the world. As well as applying to their signature cuisines, this attitude also transfers to the spa where therapies like massages and bodywork treatments are used to emotionally re-balance and restore. Advocating holistic wellness, combining modern science and ancient healing, the spa offers eight overwater treatment rooms, an open-air yoga pavilion offering complimentary daily classes each day, a large pool, relaxation area and spa boutique selling COMO Shambhala’s popular body care products and Active Living Collection. Our deep tissue massages released all the tight muscles and the COMO oils soothed away all aches and pains. Those looking to go the extra mile can enjoy private yoga tuition and guided pranayama meditation and fitness bunnies can make the most the gym with cardio equipment and weights.
Looking to keep active outdoors? No problem. COMO Maalifushi Maldives is surrounded by vibrant marine life for diving, snorkelling and fishing. As the only hotel on the Thaa Atoll, guests at COMO Maalifushi have uninterrupted hours on the water, where you can watch dolphins play or swim with turtles, whale sharks and hammerhead sharks. Some of the Maldives best-regarded surf breaks are also close by, with expert tuition on hand during the season. The resort provides a full range of diving experiences for different levels, from learning to dive PADI courses to night dives on nearby reefs. Meanwhile, ‘Cameron’, the 68-foot Hatteras ‘sport fisher’ yacht, allows you to explore the Maldivian seas in comfort – with help from the fully-crewed boat, experience game fishing trips, where you’ll hunt the waters for tuna, wahoo, marlin and sailfish. Make sure you visit the house reef, full of friendly sea creatures, or take a trip on a reef safari, exploring one of the many uninhabited islands on the Atoll. I also highly recommend Sunset Dolphin Cruise – a two-hour trip including small snacks, bubbles and, most importantly, hours of flipping fun as the infamous spinner dolphin performs tricks in front of your eyes.
For those who wish to explore further, COMO Maalifushi can arrange guided aqua-safaris with the resort’s resident marine biologist whilst surfers can make the most of the nearby breaks around Thaa Atoll. As well as being perfect for a romantic getaway, the island is perfect for families. The ultimate experience for little ones comes in the form of a sunset cruise with a twist, as the team set off in search of dolphin pods migrating through the Thaa Atoll. Once in the open water you can hop onto COMO’s dhoni’s splash net and experience the thrill of being towed safely through the ocean. As the sun sets, adults can indulge in a glass of wine or beer, and freshly prepared canapés whilst little ones splash around in the ocean.
An island dreamt straight out of the extraordinary, COMO Maalifushi presents the epitome of paradise on earth.