“As someone who struggles to sit still for more than five minutes, I thought I might find the Maldives a little tame. How wrong I was.” Travel expert Anna Chaplin whisks us away to unplugged paradise, off-the-charts cuisine and mile upon mile of sun-drenched beaches on her favorite islands in the Maldives.
From the moment I touched down at Male airport I was filled with a childlike excitement that stayed with me for the rest of my trip. The night skies in the Maldives are so awe-inspiring, you can lose hours staring at the stars. The water is warm and inviting, with a world of sea life just below the surface, so a morning dip became a ritual.
However, what really struck me was just how relaxing and beautiful the islands are—every bit as picturesque in reality as they seem on postcards.
Check in to check out
The natural splendour and magic of the Maldives have made it a top destination for honeymooners for decades. Likewise, for single travelers, the same qualities make it the perfect place in which to switch off completely from the world. We now live in an era where everyone is glued to their phones, work emails or the latest episode of the hottest TV series. As such, it’s increasingly important to find time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.
In the Maldives, relaxation happens so naturally and subconsciously. I think that’s why it has to be the ideal destination for a digital detox.
Here are a couple of my favorite Maldives islands to disappear to for the ultimate exotic escape:
Located in the South Male Atoll, a 40-minute boat ride from Male, COMO Cocoa Island is one of the smaller resort islands in the Maldives. It has a boutique, shipwrecked-paradise island air about it.
At first glance, the resort feels quite understated. However, you can’t help but be completely romanced and captivated by the intimacy and simplicity of it all. It’s the perfect place to relax. With only 33 villas—all of which are over the water and styled like traditional ‘dhoni’ boats—the island never feels busy, even at full capacity. Hence, there’s a good chance that you’ll have the beach entirely to yourself.
Cocoa Island’s rustic charm has a very calming spirit, with health and wellness at the core of its identity. Stay at Cocoa Island and you’ll be treated to the full COMO Shambhala experience through its spa and restaurant UFAA, which serves Shambhala juices and dishes in addition to the main menu. The food there is outstanding—some of best I’ve eaten.
Be sure to book the sunset fishing trip where you get to eat your very own catch for lunch the next day. I had mine cooked in a tandoori marinade and it was divine. The whole experience was very special.
From Male, I traveled north by seaplane to Amilla Fushi, which is located in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The direct translation of Amilla Fushi is ‘my island home’ which is exactly what it felt like from the moment I stepped foot onto the jetty. It soon turned into one of my favorite places—I was completely absorbed in it.
Contemporary in style, Amilla Fushi villas are atypical of the Maldives. They look almost like houses you’d find perched up on a hillside in a scene from a 1960’s movie featuring Beverley Hills. The interiors are minimalist in style, with an inviting beach-chic décor. I stayed in an Ocean Reef Villa, which gave me direct access to the beautiful house reef from my private deck at the back of the villa.
Amilla has created a dining space called the Bazaar set back from the main jetty. There you’ll find a multitude of cuisines to choose from (including fish and chips at the first Maldives fish and chips restaurant).
Feeling Koi, the signature restaurant, sits graciously alone at the end of the welcome jetty, just above the water. It’s such an inviting space. The Japanese food on offer is very tempting and the laid-back vibe within the main bar creates the perfect atmosphere for sipping sundowner cocktails.
Nourish body and soul
While at Amilla, I trained with the island’s resident Bodyism Personal Trainer. The spacious, bright gym is situated right on the beach and has an amazing view out across the azure waters—the perfect setting! The workout didn’t disappoint. It’s clear to see that Bodyism’s passion for wellness is shared with Amilla Fushi and together they’ve created a stunning fitness retreat.
The whole approach is very holistic, from the fitness sessions themselves to the food and juices they serve from the Clean and Lean menu. If you wish, you can even stay in one of the resorts treehouses positioned 12 meters above the ground. There you’ll enjoy a tailored Clean and Lean meal plan, personal training sessions on your own private terrace, and an individualised schedule for the ultimate digital detox.
Sound like too much like hard work? Then you’ll love the Javvu Spa with its men’s grooming salon and ladies nail and beauty parlour. From your own private villa, just sit back and relax, drink in hand, and lose yourself in a good book while soaking up the afternoon sun.