At the seaplane pavilion, you are greeted with flowers, a welcome drink and the joyful tunes of Pharrell Williams. During our arrival, I think it was William’s hit ‘Freedom’ that was serenading the incoming guests — a fitting preview of the days to come.
Only opened in 2021, Cora Cora foregoes the formality of older, more established luxury resorts and instead opts for a barefoot luxury that makes the experience so much more enriching. At the hotel’s casual lobby, you are welcomed with a mocktail and temporary tattoos before being whisked off via buggy to your villa.
The hotel’s premium all-inclusive concept means that guests can relax and enjoy their time on the island, without having to worry about a large supplementary bill at the end of their stay. The package includes food and drink at most restaurants, a complimentary 45-minute treatment at the Moksha Spa and a vast array of non-motorised water sports, for guests looking to make waves beyond the white sandy beaches of Cora Cora.
We stayed in one of the hotel’s Lagoon Villas, which is the quintessential Maldivian water villa, with a Cora Cora twist. The generously-sized villas are decorated in a clean white and blue colour palate, with vibrant abstract paintings adding bursts of colour onto the walls (more on these later). Each villa has a large four-poster bed which looks out towards floor-to-ceiling windows that open to your own private deck, a simple yet effective design that blends indoor and outdoor space seamlessly.
The villa bathrooms continue this indoor/outdoor scheme and is partially open to the elements. Here, you can laze in an overwater hammock, while listening to the gentle waves, or have a bath while enjoying one of the Maldives’ famous sunsets straight from your bathroom. It is a concept that may not suit the tastes of more conservative guests, but one that we embraced fully.
The other room types at Cora Cora include the Beach Villa, Beach Suite, and even two-bedroom Family Beach Pool Villa and Duplex Lagoon villas for bigger parties. Cora Cora is filled with small thoughtful touches that set it apart from other luxury properties in the Maldives. For example, the room’s minibar, which includes a lovely bottle of organic red wine, snacks and other beverages is refilled everyday as part of the package.
The hotel has four superb restaurants, and each one a celebration of exotic flavours from across the globe. Acquapazza is the hotels’ main beach club. This lovely Italian restaurant is located by the pool and is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail from sun-up to sunset. We recommend the Coconut Crush, which is Acquapazza take on the classic Pina Colada.
Breakfast is served at Tazäa, which transforms from a buffet-style restaurant in the morning to an all-day eatery in the afternoon. Tazäa joyfully combines Middle Eastern flavours with more classic dishes that suit the European palate. Beside Tazäa, is Teien, Cora Cora’s fiery Teppanyaki restaurant. While Teien isn’t part of the all-inclusive package, it is definitely worth the additional fee. Not just for the pure showmanship of Teppanyaki chef Pindi, but also for the delicious food that he prepares. There are three sets to choose from at Teien, a meat, seafood or veggie set; but regardless what you choose, you are sure in for a night you won’t forget when booking a seat at Teien.
The star of Cora Cora’s culinary offer is Ginger Moon, the hotel’s Pan-Asian restaurant. Ginger Moon is run entirely by women, with four female chefs leading the kitchen. The chefs each come from different countries in Southeast Asia, giving every dish at Ginger Moon an authentic touch that undoubtedly elevates the dining experience.
As part of the hotel’s wellness programme, each restaurant offers a special Moksha menu, which offers healthier alternatives for wellness buffs looking to keep fit during their stay in the Maldives. Cora Cora also has its own café called My Coffee, which has proven to be a popular hang-out spot among guests.
Beyond its excellent food and drink offer, there’s plenty of things to do and see at Cora Cora. So much so, that a week’s stay was hardly enough to tick everything off the list. Snorkelling at the hotel’s house reef is top of the list and we can promise that you won’t see a more colourful, vibrant reef anywhere else in the world. Get lost swimming with hundreds of parrot fish, clown fish, angel fish and even some small sharks if you’re lucky. A few laps by the pool, which plays classical music underwater, is also highly-recommended.
For an extra fee, there’s a vast array of motorised sports on offer that will delight even the most daring adrenaline junkie. Cora Cora has everything from jet skis, speedboats to foil boards, which are all great activities to get your heart pumping. Guests looking for a different kind of thrill can sail to the nearby ‘Ghost Island’ and explore the post-tsunami ruins of what once was an island buzzing with life. Luckily, most of the island’s inhabitants survived the tsunami in 2004, and still sometimes come back to fish the marine-life rich waters that surround it.
There are slower-paced activities too at Cora Cora. Guests can go on a romantic sunset cruise, relax with a treatment at the Moksha spa or even paint their own masterpiece of one of Cora Cora’s beautiful tropical landscapes. The on-site artist was discovered by Cora Cora CEO Martin on a trip in Male and has since been commissioned to paint all of the hotel’s vibrant artworks. It is a lovely human touch in a hotel that puts people at the heart of everything they do.
One of our favourite activities was visiting The Dutch Onion, the hotel’s on-site museum. Cora Cora is the only resort in the Maldives to have its own museum and its own heritage site. In The Dutch Onion, guests can learn about Raa Maamigilli’s history, discover Maldivian culture, and inspect the 400 year-old artefacts found on-site. Pseudo-archaeologist (and all-around great guy) Wifag takes guests on a tour of what once was a Muslim compound on the island and is a treasure trove of knowledge.
From the décor, to the concept and especially through its people – Cora Cora is unlike any other luxury resort in the Maldives. Because unlike the rest, Cora Cora offers so much more than just sun, sand sea – but true freedom in the Maldives.
Factbox: Southall Travel has seven nights at the five-star Cora Cora Maldives with accommodation in a Beach Villa on a Premium All-Inclusive basis, including return flights on Qatar Airways from London Gatwick to Male and return sea-plane transfers starting from £2699.00 per person based on two adults sharing. Valid for travel between the 1st of May 2022, to the 15th of July 2022 and from the 27th of July 2022 to the 30th of September 2022. To book call Southall Travel on 0800 408 8015