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📍Cocoon Maldives, Ookolhufinolhu, Lhaviyani Atoll
📅 May 2017
♬ Bathed In Fine Dust, by Andy G Cohen (licensed under CC BY, sourced from Quik)
🎥 GoPro Hero 5 & iPhone 6, edited with Quik

The Maldives has been one of those lifelong, seemingly unrealistic bucket list dreams that I kinda figured I’d never actually get around to. Firstly, I never imagined I’d be able to afford it because, well, it’s the freaking Maldives, and I’ve spent the better part of my adult life living on a musician’s (general lack of) income. Secondly, the Maldives has the preconception attached to it that it’s the kind of place you only go to with your special someone. I’ll save the sob stories for an entirely different blog, but in short, that just hasn’t worked out.

As it turns out, both of these notions were entirely unfounded. It’s funny how we prevent ourselves from doing all sorts of things by hanging on to distorted notions about the world that we live in, purely because of something we’ve heard at some point in our lives – generally from someone who probably hasn’t actually tried it themselves.

At the beginning of 2017, I was randomly scrolling through Facebook (as one does) and a sponsored post I would ordinarily have ignored caught my eye… a new 5 star boutique resort had just opened in the Maldives and there was a how-could-this-possibly-be-legit opening special with a free upgrade to a water villa – the ultimate pipe dream holiday. I was in a particularly dark kind of headspace at the time, and desperate for something to pull me out of it. Generally when I find myself in that kind of space, I do something exceedingly grand and seemingly irrational with my life, because I know from experience that it works wonders. The post mentioned scuba diving, which was something else I’d always wanted to do but figured I never would. The brief thought process that followed went something like… “I should learn to dive in the Maldives… OMG, wouldn’t that be amazing? I won’t though… I mean, that’s an impossible idea… but it would be cool.” Keep scrolling.

Then I woke up the next day, and booked the ticket. I’d realised that I had become a passenger in my life and that there were far too many things that I hadn’t done because I’d been waiting for better days. I was finally done waiting. Every now and then we all need reminding that today is that day.

I woke up to this…

It’s next to impossible to put into words what the Maldives is like when you try to describe it to someone who hasn’t been there. Being completely submerged in its intoxicating, perfect beauty, repeatedly blew my mind. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and granted, you literally cannot take a bad picture in that place, but there’s a magic that exists there that just can’t be captured by anything other than your own soul.

Water villas really are as exquisitely dreamy as you imagine they are. Cocoon is marketed as the Maldives’ first design hotel, so you go in expecting chic design aesthetics, and that’s exactly what you get. I distinctly remember walking into my villa for the first time and literally dropping jaw, while the concierge beamed at my kid-at-Christmas excitement. Their villas and suites are beautifully crafted, and the contemporary Italian design (complete with floating beds!!) is tastefully blended with the breathtaking natural beauty that engulfs you everywhere you turn.

Check out the gallery for more.

Going to the Maldives in monsoon season, like I did, is a slightly cheaper option, and you get a mix of absolutely perfect days, punctuated by passionate flash storms that only serve to intensify the overall atmosphere of this otherworldly piece of heaven.

There were only two days during my trip when the weather crushed all hopes of diving, but I spent that time snorkeling under my villa or curled up in the luxurious cocoon of my private château, watching every single shade of blue in existence create surreal cloudporn paintings above the most beautiful ocean views imaginable. Storms make for great contemplation. Even when it’s grey, it’s too exquisite; and the storms don’t really last that long. When they clear, it’s all sunshine and exquisite blue ocean for days.

The diving is incredible when the weather plays ball (and even when it doesn’t, as I unexpectedly found out on dive #2). Granted, I don’t have that many dives under my belt to compare it to yet, so I’ll just let those videos speak for themselves.

I should probably mention that I’ve never actually been much of a beach person. I’ve always loved the ocean, but anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’ve generally always been more of a dungeon dweller. People change. It just takes the right kinda magic, and this place has all that.

Days in the Maldives tend to blur together, forming an endless wave of memories that can’t separate themselves from each other after a while. Between cocktails and fixating on endless horizons, I spent the majority of my time in the water (which meant I had permanent mask face and the most epic snorkeling tan lines) or lazing on my private balcony, wondering if anyone would notice if I just never left. I watched the Extreme Maldives team kite surfing, did 3 dives, snorkeled, napped, watched the sun rise and set, and marvelled at the next level beauty of it all. (There’s more videos and galleries of it all here, and in the dive log here.)

The staff at Cocoon Maldives are, quite literally, the happiest people I’ve ever encountered. Every person I happened past had this big, bright smile plastered across their face, and greeted me with an enthusiastic kindness so sincere that it felt like home only a few hours in.

I went for an all-inclusive package so that, aside from paying for my dives (which are an optional extra), I wouldn’t have to worry about facing an over-indulgent cocktail bill at the end of my stay. That does limit your drinks choices, but only marginally, and I really wasn’t phased at all. The all-inclusive buffet (three times a day) was killer, and the cocktails and wine list would satisfy almost any connoisseur.

There’s an abundance of entertainment available, from any number of water-related fancies and excursions during the day (some that you pay an additional fee for, like the Dolphin Cruise), to themed soirées in the evening with live music. I did have to laugh at the musical repertoire at times, but it’s an island resort and, even as a musician, I can appreciate a little cheese from time to time. Oh, how we danced.

Despite never wanting to leave, when I found myself heading off on the long trek back home, I couldn’t stop grinning because it was simply impossible to be the slightest bit sad after an experience so powerfully ethereal.

There is nothing more empowering than the moment that you realise you have found your way back home to yourself.

The number of times I had the “you came here alone?” conversation wasn’t surprising, but I took this trip to find something that I had lost, and I left with so much more than that. I realise it sounds awfully deep and meaningful. The Maldives isn’t going to be a soul-fixing experience for everyone, but believe me when I say that, regardless of why you go there and what you take from the magic of it, it will steal your heart.

You can book your own dreamy adventure via Agoda – here – and when you get there, grab yourself a Blue Lagoon cocktail from Rocky, and then drop me a sunset pic to make me jealous.