Hidden Depths


Jane Slade visits Cora Cora Maldives, a tiny paradise island in the Indian Ocean with more to explore than you could ever imagine

Few places evoke excitement like the Maldives. After all where else could you be transfixed by a black tip reef shark chasing a shoal of fish a few feet from your sun deck. Or see a family of pipe fish dart like slivers of glass beneath your lagoon villa.

But this is what you can experience every day in this diving and snorkelling Mecca, and where you don’t even have to go into the water to see the life beneath it.

There are numerous ways you can explore the deep on Cora Cora, one of the smaller islands in the Raa atoll. There is a PADI diving school, boat excursions and snorkelling trips.

Cora Cora is also an all-inclusive resort which includes free rental of non-motor sports equipment such as snorkels and flippers, kayaks, and paddle boards.

We felt like we had dived into a David Attenborough Blue Planet episode when we joined the Snorkelling Extravaganza – a morning trip to two snorkelling sites (which costs extra).

We swam among puffer fish; spotted a sting ray, turtle and moray eel. We saw parrot fish chewing on the coral; yellow-fin tuna, black and white fish that shimmered. Ones that darted, others that snoozed or hovered and clown fish that scavenged among the anemones.

On land Cora Cora is a small, dreamy jewel of an island. You can walk around it in half an hour. Although it takes a lot longer to uncover its treasures.

Accommodation is either in one of the 45 beach villas (some with private pools), or in a lagoon villa. There are 55 lagoon villas over the water with steps into the sea (one even has a slide). The advantage of a lagoon villa is that you have a better chance of spotting interesting sea life.

We loved ours and had glorious views of the sunsets from the big-cushioned seat on our wooden deck.

Complimentary bottles of white wine, fizzy rose and red wine in your mini bar are replenished every day free of charge. It’s nice not to have to worry about the extras – even champagne is included.

There are some 54 different wines available. We liked the New Zealand Mission Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noirs from Chile  - Cuvee St Pierre 2018.

Being a small island, it packs quite a punch with plenty to do and see. There’s a little museum where you will learn that the powder white sand is made from undigested coral consumed by parrot fish – one adult fish produces an astonishing ton of sand each year!

There’s also a heritage site, kid’s club, and gardens of frangipane, bougainvillea and hibiscus.

There are four restaurants covering all nationalities of cuisine. You wake to an amazing breakfast spread of choices ranging from Indian masala scrambled eggs to American-style pancakes. There is also an array of fresh juices, and delicious melon gazpacho served with blue bread created from blue butterfly pea flowers.

For lunch head for Acquapazza if you fancy a bustling Italian beach club vibe. Here you can sample a delicious lunchtime menu of soups and salads, pasta and risotto dishes, and hot pizza served from a pizza oven shipped from Rome.

We loved the relaxed all-day dining feel at Tazää , where you can immerse yourself in the flavours of curries and mezzes inspired by the spice route or, if you prefer, enjoy more simple comfort foods while watching the waves lap the shore.

But for evening romance and atmosphere Ginger Moon is the place to go. We had a candle-lit table on the sand and a mouth-watering selection of fresh Thai style rolls packed with herbs and vegetables, a bowl of green-lipped mussels and a Malaysian dish of spicy prawns. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options here too.

For another special evening out, the five-course Teppanyaki tasting menu at the Japanese-inspired Teien restaurant will excite all your senses, and worth the extra charge. This theatre-style experience where the chefs demonstrate their showmanship and prepare food in front of you is both a visual and edible feast whether you choose the seafood menu of octopus, yellowfin tuna and snapper or the meat menu of Australian angus beef, and pork tenderloin with egg and garlic fried rice.

The pampering doesn’t stop at the restaurant table either. At the MOKSHA spa & wellbeing centre there are seven treatment rooms over the water, sunset yoga classes, and a free sound-healing experience.

The spa even offers couples massage, hair braiding and Partner Yoga. There is also a hair salon mainly used by brides preparing for their beach wedding ceremonies.

Nothing can dull your mood on Cora Cora – not even a rain shower. An early morning downpour can even be welcome. There hadn’t been one in five months when we arrived.

A rainstorm in the tropics is always dramatic and exciting – rumbling thunder and moody skies. But then it clears up so quickly it is as if it never happened at all – just like magic.

Of the 180 resorts in the Maldives Cora Cora, is one of the younger resorts  – opening just two years ago, and seems to have everything you would need, and more.

There are even guitar workshops, painting/art classes (charged extra), pizza making and cocktail lessons as well as a public outdoor cinema and themed food nights.

Whether you are on the sand or in the water there is something to see, feel and experience. In fact you dare not sleep in case you miss something – like a shark chasing a shoal of fish round your sun deck!

A seven-night stay at Cora Cora Maldives staying in a Lagoon (Water) Villa starts from £3,850 per person based on two people sharing in Jan-May 2024 (peak dates) on a Premium Dine Around All-inclusive basis. Price includes

Return Qatar Airways flights from London Heathrow to Male (Maldives) Return seaplane transfers. Book by 31st Jan 2024, Stay dates 12th Jan 2024 – 15th April 2024Contact: Simply Maldives Email: quote@simplymaldives.co.uk Phone : 020 7481 0804Website: www.simplymaldivesholidays.co.uk

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