Concierge.com's insider take:
Though flashier resorts have sprung up across the Maldives, Cocoa Islandbuilt in 1981remains the standard-bearer of elegance. A calm 45-minute speedboat ride from Male takes guests across cerulean waters to the palm-fringed island's 33 overwater villas. Jewel-toned pillows and dark wood furniture contrast with the whitewashed walls and muted textiles, and private sundecks lead into the marine-rich reef, home to species with quirky names like peacock rock cod and harlequin sweetlips. Honeymooners should splurge on loft villas, where upstairs sleeping lairs open onto panoramic ocean views. The two-bedroom villas exude beach-house chic, and include kitchen, dining, and living spaces plus a dedicated butler. Staff here make everything seem possible for the guestsmostly couples who spend days kayaking, windsurfing, and exploring 20 nearby dive sites for manta rays, sharks, and rare turtles. Back on the island, skilled Indonesian therapists staff the COMO Shambhala spa retreat offering a range of massages, hydrotherapy, skin care, and yoga, as well as extended holistic Ayurvedic rituals. Meals, from the delectable pancakes to fresh-catch carpaccio, are organic and low-calorie yet entirely gourmet. Meals are taken en suite or in the resort's only restaurant, but guests here don't seem to mind the lack of venue choice one bit. They have come in part for Cocoa Island's healthy cuisine. Save room for the delicious sorbets in unexpected flavors like rhubarb and saffron.