Three premier resorts that combine world-class snorkeling and diving with first-class spa experiences
For some, a vacation is about relaxing and refreshing. For others, it’s about creating memorable experiences. And don’t forget the meals and the accommodations, because fine dining and a memorable setting can be equally important. The best resorts bring all these elements together, and in the islands of the Maldives, there are three properties that deliver an ideal mix of comforts, diversions and private relaxation.
Lily Beach Resort & Spa
The all-inclusive resort experience is taken to the next level at Lily Beach, where all guests enjoy Platinum Plan amenities and premier accommodations. A quick seaplane from the Malé airport brings guests to pristine Huvahendhoo Island, which is set within a turquoise lagoon fringed by the best snorkeling and diving reefs in the Maldives. Waterfront accommodation choices include beach and lagoon view villas, with some two-bedroom units available for families. Upscale touches include private gardens with day beds and soak tubs, outdoor shower rooms, and top-line entertainment electronics and fully stocked mini bars. The premier over- water villas add elements such as glass floor viewing panels and private decks with plunge pools. To keep all guests happy, there is a family pool and activity center, and a separate infinity edge “quiet zone” pool with a hot tub. Dining options are similarly accommodating of all tastes, and range from a kid’s buffet to fine dining option with premium wines and spirits.
The tantalizing waters of the lagoon provide the setting for spa treatments at the Tamara Spa. Here, a collection of six over-water pavilions perch on stilts above the turquoise shallows. Each pavilion can accommodate couples or individuals, and is lavishly equipped with sauna and steam chambers, outdoor showers and Jacuzzi baths suspended on the edge of a private water view balcony. Guests looking for a rush rather than a relaxation can engage in a wide range of included water sports, from windsurfing and wakeboarding to the high-flying thrills of a jet blade ride, where water jets propel riders high above the waves. More serene water sports include sailing, paddleboats, standup paddleboards and snorkel excursions. Divers have access to more than 50 world-class sites that include wrecks, fish laden underwater walls and seasonal sightings of manta rays and whale sharks. After a full day on the water, guests can enjoy a variety of nightly entertainment programs from live music and DJ sessions to Maldivian cultural shows, group games and family-friendly variety shows.
COMO Cocoa Island
Understated luxury is the theme at this boutique five-star resort. COMO Cocoa Island includes just 33 over-water villas; each built to resemble a traditional regional boathouse, and finished with soothing, all white interiors and teak floors. Villa floor plans include intimate one-bedroom units; spacious suites and airy split-level loft suites, all are fitted with private water-access sun decks, walk-in showers and roll-top bathtubs. Touches such vintage-style ceiling fans and exposed beam ceilings add an out island ambiance, but guests also enjoy modern comforts such as air conditioning, a private bar, in-room Wi-Fi and a full suite of electronics. Plank boardwalks connect villas to the private island, which is ringed in white sand beaches, and clothed in garden-like greenery. Nestled among the palm trees are the resort’s restaurant, infinity-edge pool and the Shambhala Retreat, which incorporates elements of a spa, yoga retreat, and fitness center, and includes a steam room and hydrotherapy pool.
At the Shambhala Retreat, programs go beyond the usual range of massages and treatments, and focus on holistic wellness with programs that combine movement, relaxation, nutrition and Asian-based therapies. This philosophy extends to special raw food menu choices at the waterfront Ufaa dining pavilion, though guests may choose to expand their palate with the chef’s South Indian-influenced cuisines and Mediterranean favorites, or savor fresh regional seafood dishes such as tandoor-roasted lobster. For the more adventurous, the ocean awaits. Cocoa Island is located within South Malé Atoll, which is home to some of the best coral reefs in the Maldives. Snorkelers can explore right from their over-water villas, or go by boat to nearby reefs. Divers can explore sites such as the famous Kandooma Caves, and an underwater cleaning station where small fish pick parasites from the skin of waiting sharks. To further enhance these adventures, the resort’s resident marine biologist often leads the dive. The water sports center also maintains a fleet of kayaks, paddleboards and windsurfers, and to cap off a special day, guests can arrange for a private lantern light dinner in a beachside tent.
This private island resort caters to couples and families with equal measure. If it’s just the two of you, the overwater villas are a great choice, as these open-plan rooms offer private decks with plunge pools that encourage relaxation and reconnection. Ashore, there are 28 beach villas, some with second-story master bedrooms and separate children’s bunkrooms, others with second bedrooms having separate outdoor access suitable for older children and teens. A range of dining options allows guests to choose anything from a convenient family sit down at the Jahaz buffet to an intimate dinner on the sand at Meeru, or an over-water dining experience at Jing, which has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its innovative fusion cuisines.
Situated on stilts over the lagoon, Le Spa de Constance is a centerpiece of the resort. Facilities include four couple treatment rooms, with one dedicated to Ayurvedic treatments, six single treatment rooms including one for Thai massages, a beauty salon and a relaxation area. The spa also provides anti-aging treatments by Valmont and Ila organic products. Also on site are a fitness studio offering stretching, yoga and personal training. The sheltered lagoon surrounding the resort is ideal for a range of on-site water sports that includes wakeboarding, water skiing, windsurfing, kayaks and catamaran sailing. The PADI dive center can provide snorkeling and scuba instruction, and offers a unique shark awareness course. A short boat ride away from the resort is many of the premier dive sites of North Malé Atoll. Special adventures include dolphin watching cruises and snorkeling encounters with whale sharks. One amenity that makes Constance Halaveli especially attractive for families is the Kid’s Club, which operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., free of charge, offering supervised free play and structured activities including treasure hunts, face painting and hermit crab racing.