An email from the Maldives authorities advising that my Covid documents are in order says: ‘Hope to see you soon on the sunny side of life.’

This is an uplifting human touch in a difficult situation. There aren’t many better spots to go for a stroll on the sunny side of life than the tiny Indian Ocean nation.

There is urgency because time is running out. Even if Cop26’s promises were kept, low-lying Maldives could still be affected by rising sea levels.

Vibrant: The all-inclusive Cora Cora Maldives, pictured above, only opened in October, Max Davidson reveals

Vibrant – The Cora Cora Maldives all-inclusive resort was opened only in October by Max Davidson. 

This is a charming part of the globe, with many subtle delights. The Maldives has more than 100 islands resorts. Despite the terrible effects of Covid on the Maldives, there are still new hotels being built.

Once I land in Male, the capital of Mali, I board a seaplane that will take me to my destination. After a short flight over blue water dotted by atolls, I’m on the beach. It’s time to start the party.

Only October saw the opening of Cora Cora Maldives, an all-inclusive resort. The final touches are still being put in place. ‘There is no full-length mirror in my bathroom,’ I hear a guest yelp, as if she has found a snake in the shower. She is informed that it is in the process.

Cora Cora is classy, and the staff sets the tone. You don’t have to bow or scrape: they are friendly and helpful.

The setting is the Maldives in perfect miniature — a carless island you can walk around in 15 minutes. The sand is soft and white. The winds blow the palm trees out of their center. The seascape is a mosaic of many blues and whites. Honeymoon-worthy accommodation.

After landing in the capital, Male, Max takes a seaplane to Cora Cora (file photo)

Max climbs aboard a seaplane for Cora Cora, after landing in Male.

My room is one of half the rooms built on the water’s edge, along with the rest. Half of the rooms are located along the coast, surrounded by frangipani.

Cora Cora has a resident artist who teaches painting lessons. However, you will need to have a talent for portraying the beauty and fragility of the landscape.

Exploring the island barefoot — even flip-flops feel redundant here — yields pleasures both expected and unexpected. 

The resort has 'honeymoon-worthy accommodation', writes Max. Pictured is a spacious Beach Villa bedroom

Max writes that the resort offers a ‘honeymoon-worthy lodging’. A spacious Beach Villa bedroom is shown.

An open-air bathtub in one of the resort's Beach Villas. Simply Maldives offers seven nights in a Beach Villa on an all-inclusive basis

Open-air bath in one of the Resort’s Beach Villas. Simply Maldives provides seven nights of all-inclusive accommodation in Beach Villas

The view of the water - 'a seascape of a thousand blues and whites' -  from the porch of one of the guest villas

The view of the water – ‘a seascape of a thousand blues and whites’ –  from the porch of one of the guest villas

The infinity pool, high-end spa, bustling watersport centre and pretty thatched restaurant were all things I had expected, but the museum at the reception was something I didn’t expect.

This museum has the biggest collection of artifacts outside of the capital. The items, ranging from Chinese porcelain and relics from the Dutch East India Company to name a few, serve as a reminder that the Maldives used to be a major East-West trading route.

It is also fascinating to see the small archaeological site that lies next to it. It is possible to still find ancient communal baths, traditional homes with wooden shutters and even an old mosque floor through which a ginger cat glides effortlessly.

A bird's-eye view of the resort. 'Exploring the island barefoot ¿ even flip-flops feel redundant here ¿ yields pleasures both expected and unexpected,' says Max

The resort from the air. ‘Exploring the island barefoot — even flip-flops feel redundant here — yields pleasures both expected and unexpected,’ says Max 

According to Max, you'll find 'soft white sand' and 'palm trees blown off-centre by the winds' on a stroll around the island

Max says you will find soft white sand and palm trees that have been blown out-of-centre by winds while walking around the island

Pictured is the resort's historical museum, which houses everything from 'Chinese porcelain to relics of the Dutch East India Company'

The resort’s historic museum is shown here. It houses everything, from Chinese porcelain to the relics and documents of the Dutch East India Company.

Ghost Island is another important site that is accessible via boat for those who are interested in historical travel.

The island is less than half an acre in size, yet it used to house more than 3000 people until the tsunami of 2004. Although only two people died on the island, buildings were so damaged that all the residents had to move. The result was a crumbling cityscape reminiscent of Pompeii.

The old hospital’s ruins are being reconstructed by a rabbit. Under a palm leaf, a mouldy bear hides. The school’s mottos are fading and the lights fall on them. ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ ‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.’ Poignant stuff. Heart-warming, too. As I make my way back to the base, there is so much to think about as I wait for the perfect cocktail and a beautiful sunset.

The high-end spa at Cora Cora. Max reveals: 'In the spa, I spot a woman deep in a book entitled How Not To Get Old, which somehow feels like a metaphor for life on this island paradise suspended in time'

Cora Cora’s spa is a high-end luxury resort. Max says: “In the spa I see a woman in deep within a book called How Not To Grow Old. It somehow feels like an analogy for life in this island paradise suspended time.”

Pictured above is the poolside Acqupazza eatery, which Max describes as an 'excellent Italian restaurant'

Max describes Acqupazza restaurant as an excellent Italian Restaurant’.

Diving off the coast of Male. A 'sophisticated interactive app' enables guests to book snorkelling trips at Cora Cora

Divers can dive off the Male coast. A sophisticated interactive app allows you to make reservations for snorkelling trips in Cora Cora. 

Cora Cora is a wonderful mix of people, which I find gratifying.

A synchronised swimmer turns movie actress, a dive-mad Mexican and a Russian family ask me to sing Beatles song. Julius, from Germany, orders Caesar salad as lunch. ‘I have to, with my name. I actually hate salads, but I love carrots.’

This salad, as all other dishes from the kitchen, is delicious. 

A great Italian restaurant is available as well as a Japanese-style one.

Breakfast is a buffet of fresh fruits, blueberry muffins, and Maldivian fish curries. It’s so delicious that I just want to bring some home. 

Pictured is My Coffee - a bar and snack shop at the resort. Max is impressed by the 'pretty thatched restaurants' at Cora Cora

Pictured: My Coffee, which is a resort bar and snack shop. Max loves the Cora Cora’s “pretty thatched” restaurants.


Simply Maldives provides seven nights of accommodation in Cora Cora Maldives’ Beach Villa on an All-Inclusive basis. 

Includes return economy flight from London Heathrow on Qatar Airways to Male, as well as return seaplane transfer. Cost from £3,000pp based on two adults sharing (simplymaldives, 020 7481 0804). 

This resort does not require a car, and is largely non-paper. The resort has an interactive, sophisticated app that allows me to book all kinds of treatments and snorkelling trips.

My afternoon was spent on the water, one making candles to bring home and one kayaking.

Everyone speaks in a calm voice. Everyone is calm. No one looks tired or stressed. One of the women I see in the spa is reading a book entitled “How Not To Get Old”, which seems to be a metaphor for this idyllic island paradise. A wind gust blows, and a little boy runs down the beach. He is then blown back over, laughing.

‘That boy could be a president or prime minister one day,’ reflects a local man, smiling at his antics.

‘We want to send him away with such happy memories of the Maldives that we won’t be forgotten at future Cop meetings.’

I agree with that. Only half of a million Maldivians live there. The ruling regime is not to everyone’s taste, but the country remains on a pedestal all of its own when it comes to aspiring holidays.

When I boarded the seaplane to return home, my eyes widened in sadness. The splash of a paddleboarder crashing into the water interrupted my reverie.