The plane landed in the Maldives 20 minutes ago and I'm already hurtling across the bluest water I've ever seen, sun shining through wispy clouds. Male International Airport is a speck on the horizon as the boat pulls in at a short wooden dock to broad smiles from the welcoming committee. I've arrived in paradise, and it's like I'm dreaming.
Como Cocoa Island is the top of the pops when it comes to remote luxury retreats. With just 33 overwater suites, it's the ultimate place to check in and drop out. There's basically nothing to do except relax, read some trashy books, maybe get a spa treatment at the absurdly glamorous Shambhala Retreat, or stuff yourself to the gills on very good South Indian-influenced food overlooking the glassy pool. It's 'pinch yourself' territory, and hard to believe you are actually here in such a gorgeous oasis. It really is as idyllic as every Instagram post you've ever seen.
I stay for one night and it's painful to leave after such a tantalising glimpse of island life, but thankfully the adventure is not over yet. I'm off to Como's sister resort Maalifushi, which is 45 minutes away in a tiny seaplane. This is the only way you can arrive at the remote, pristine Thaa Atoll, and the flights are not for the timid as the plane cruises low and slow over a shifting screensaver of dazzling turquoise reefs. The pilot doesn't wear shoes, and we land on the water with a bouncing thud.
Maalifushi is a much larger island, with 33 overwater villas and a further 32 suites set amid lush tropical vegetation. While you can walk from one end of Cocoa Island to the other in a few minutes, the best way to get around Maalifushi is riding oversized fat-tyred bicycles, complete with bell and basket. Quickly I get the hang of cruising around the smooth pathways under dense canopies of palm trees into shafts of warm sunlight, not in a hurry to be anywhere in particular.
Activities are plentiful, with daily yoga sessions, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing and diving to keep guests occupied between lazing by the pool and loading up at meal times. There's a small kitchen garden growing the essentials, but the rest has to be flown in from Male, Colombo and even Australia. The food is surprisingly diverse, featuring a wide selection of dishes from nearby India and Sri Lanka plus the usual hotel favourites including steak, pizza and burgers.
Both resorts are perhaps best suited to couples and families, with spontaneous socialising thin on the ground. Most people are here for their own wildly romantic private escape, and keep to themselves around the island exchanging subtle nods as they pass each other. But there's a glint in the eye of every passerby that suggests we're in on a secret. It's a look that says: 'How good is this?'
As I board the seaplane two days later, I'm already wondering when I can return.
Check out the gallery above to see why the Maldives are so popular for the social set.
Como Cocoa Island and Como Maalifushi are priced from $1200 per night. Visit comohotels.com.