Cora Cora Maldives hotel review: laid-back luxury is the name of the game
Eat, drink and be merry at this new all-inclusive property
In a remote stretch of ocean to the north of the equator, Cora Cora, or Raa Maamigili, is a small but bustling ecosystem of restaurants, greenery and local wildlife.
The Cora Cora Maldives resort prides itself on offering just 100 guest rooms, a mixture of the iconic Maldivian overwater villas or airy beach properties nestled on the seafront surrounded by lush vegetation and vibrant flowers.
Finished in bright tiles in the resort’s signature colours and furnished with light wood pieces, each villa feels private and luxurious, without sacrificing its unique quirky touches. An example of this is the bright vectors – a father and son fishing, a woman squeezing water from her trailing hair, a strolling couple – painted on each overwater villa.
Its beachfront pool coexists alongside Italian restaurant Aquapazza, and is dotted with daybeds perfect for lounging and ordering cocktails. Guests can dive in to listen to classical music being played underwater, or stay above water level to enjoy the relaxing tracks being spun by the resident DJ.
What to do
The watersports centre offers PADI diving courses and dives in the surrounding waters, which are teeming with numerous species of fish, octopi, sharks and dolphins. Sunset cruises also offer a chance to experience dolphins chasing and racing the boat, accompanied by a cold glass of fizz and local hors d’oeuvres. Paddle-boarding, jet skis, kayaks, and windsurfing can also be arranged.
There are also some unique activities including guitar lessons which can be taken in a group or solo, and a painting class where participants choose a canvas and recreate their favourite vista to take home.
On-site museum The Dutch Onion, houses more than 400 artefacts that were unearthed there, including Chinese porcelain and Maldivian tools. There’s even a HMV gramophone from the 1960s complete with a vinyl. A guided tour reveals the foundations of a mosque, Islamic graveyard and two well-preserved ritual bathing pools. For such a small place, the island is packed with history.
It’s tempting however to just relax at the brilliant MOKSHA Spa, which offers a signature herbal compression massage in overwater villas, with a glass floor so you can watch the sealife dart among the coral reef while you relax.
Although the Maldives is generally known for relaxation and remoteness, there are a couple of excursions nearby and off-island. There are several excellent snorkelling spots close to the island, in-keeping with the Maldives’ reputation as one of the best places in the world to spot marine wildlife. The resort can arrange guided snorkelling tours for groups or couples.
There’s also the nearby Tsunami island, named for a disaster which has left the landmass uninhabited. A quick boat ride makes the island accessible for guided tours, where visitors can learn about the history of the island and its peoples, the disaster itself, and see the remnants of the buildings and former village. It’s a sobering experience, but essential for anyone interested in the history of the region.
What to eat
Cora Cora is a dining destination in itself. Aquapazza is home to a pizza oven shipped all the way from Rome, and staff have been trained by a professional pizzaiola in baking authentic Napoli pies.
Other dining destinations include Tazäa, a buffet-style restaurant inspired by the spice route; Ginger Moon, which is an all-female staffed Thai offering inspired by the country’s street food; and Japanese restaurant Tien, which serves fresh sushi and sake. For a mere $40 (£30.50), visitors can experience an evening of Teppanyaki, which is worth going to for the show as well as the cuisine.
When to go
High season is November to April, when dry and sunny days are mostly predictable. There are two distinct seasons in the Maldives, with the dry season taking place from December to April, with humidity at its lowest and average temperatures of 30 degrees.
Visiting during monsoon season can be risky as abrupt showers, or several days of rain, could put a dampener on things. Saying this, it means this is also a slightly more economical time to visit and sunshine can still be enjoyed in between showers.
How to book
Prices for a seven-night stay at Cora Cora Maldives start from £3,194 per person based on two adults sharing on an all-inclusive basis. This includes Qatar Airways return flights from London Heathrow to Malé, seaplane transfers, and accommodation in a Lagoon Villa. See coracoraresorts.com