In a secluded stretch of ocean 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 rooms, a mix of iconic Maldivian overwater villas or airy beach properties nestled on the waterfront surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant flowers.
Finished with bright tiles in the resort’s signature colors and furnished with light wood pieces, each villa feels private and luxurious, without sacrificing its unique original touches. An example of this is the bright vectors – a father and son fishing, a woman squeezing water from her trailing hair, a couple strolling – painted on each overwater villa.
Its beachfront pool coexists with Italian restaurant Aquapazza and is dotted with daybeds perfect for lounging and ordering cocktails. Guests can dive in to listen to classical music played underwater or stay above water level to enjoy relaxing tunes played by the resident DJ.
What to do
The nautical center offers PADI diving courses and dives in the surrounding waters which are teeming with many species of fish, octopus, sharks and dolphins. Sunset cruises also offer a chance to see dolphins hunting and racing the boat, accompanied by a glass of cold bubbly and local appetizers. Paddle-boarding, jet-skis, kayaks and windsurfing can also be arranged.
There are also unique activities, including guitar lessons that can be taken in groups or solo, and a painting class where participants choose a canvas and recreate their favorite view to take home.
The on-site museum The Dutch Onion houses over 400 artifacts that have been discovered there, including Chinese porcelain and Maldivian tools. There’s even a 1960s HMV gramophone with a vinyl. A guided tour reveals the foundations of a mosque, an Islamic cemetery and two well-preserved ritual bathing pools. For such a small place, the island is full of history.
It’s tempting, however, to simply unwind at the stunning MOKSHA Spa, which offers herbal compression massage in overwater villas, with glass floors so you can watch the sea life weave among the coral reefs while you relax.
Although the Maldives is generally known for its relaxation and remoteness, there are a few excursions on and off the island. There are several excellent snorkeling spots near the island, in keeping with the Maldives’ reputation as one of the best places in the world to view marine wildlife. The resort can arrange guided snorkeling tours for groups or couples.
There’s also nearby Tsunami Island, named after a disaster that left the landmass uninhabited. A short boat ride makes the island accessible for guided tours, where visitors can learn about the history of the island and its people, the disaster itself, and see the remains of buildings and the old village. It’s a sobering yet essential experience for anyone interested in the history of the area.
what to eat
Cora Cora is a gastronomic destination in itself. Aquapazza houses a pizza oven shipped from Rome, and the staff has been trained by a professional pizza maker in baking authentic pies from Naples.
Other dining destinations include Tazäa, a buffet-style restaurant inspired by the Spice Route; Ginger Moon, which is an all-female Thai offering inspired by the country’s street food; and the Japanese restaurant Tien, which serves fresh sushi and sake. For just $40 (£30.50), visitors can experience an evening of Teppanyaki, which is worth visiting for the show as well as the food.
when should we go
Peak season runs from November to April, when dry, sunny days are generally predictable. There are two distinct seasons in the Maldives, with the dry season running from December to April, with humidity at its lowest and average temperatures of 30 degrees.
Visiting during the monsoon season can be risky, as sudden downpours or several rainy days could put a damper on things. That said, it does mean that it’s also a slightly more economical time to visit and the sun can still be enjoyed between showers.
How to book
Prices for a seven-night stay at Cora Cora Maldives start from £3,194 pp based on two adults sharing an all-inclusive plan. This includes return Qatar Airways flights from London Heathrow to Male, seaplane transfers and accommodation in a lagoon villa. See coracoraresorts.com