Coco Collection’s ‘In-Turtle-Ship’ winner arrives in Maldives

Winner of the Summer In-Turtle-Ship competition by luxury travel brand Coco Collection has arrived in Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu.

Jessica Monteiro, a veterinary student from Portugal, won the two-week internship with the Olive Ridley Project — a charity that works to rescue, rehabilitate and protect sea turtles in the surrounding Baa atoll — out of the thousands of applicants who were interested in the opportunity.

“I found out about the competition through an article my mother sent me on Facebook. It was on a Portuguese website called and the headline was, ‘Hotel in the Maldives offers an all paid internship with turtles’,” Jessica said.

“I’d like to pursue work in the wildlife conservation field and the competition was the perfect opportunity to further my knowledge on turtles. The hotel and island looked breathtaking, so the competition seemed like a dream I had to take.”

Jessica’s love for animals began as a little girl growing up in London, where she would spend days discovering insects and birds, all the while taking care of her many pets including, of course, a turtle. Recently, she has been challenging herself by working with wild and unusual animals at the zoo, aquarium, and the exotic pet clinic in Lisbon, where she currently lives.

Jessica fostered her ever-growing love for sea turtles during a collaborative in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau off the coast of west Africa. Besides her passion for animals, she is also a keen traveller eager to absorb and immerse herself in the culture of wherever she visits.

Located in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the island is no stranger to incredible marine life in the stunning nearby reefs. However, as the first and only veterinarian-led turtle rescue centre in the Maldives, the Olive Ridley Project is seeing an increase in the number of turtles being brought to the centre for rehabilitation through various means.

Jessica has the chance to gain valuable veterinary experience from one of the UK’s leading specialist turtle veterinary surgeons Dr Claire Petros. Her daily duties include feeding the turtles, cleaning tanks, observing surgeries and medical procedures, and attending rescue missions to collect turtles in need.

She is also able to interact with guests who visit the centre, giving them information on the turtles staying at the centre and attending any Olive Ridley Project presentation evenings. Duties also include guest posts on the Olive Ridley Project’s social media platforms, to update on their personal progress and show a behind-the-scenes look of the Rescue Centre.

An internship like no other: Jessica stays in a truly tropical paradise in a beautiful guest villa, with full board benefits at Coco Palm’s Cowrie restaurant. She is also gifted some of the fantastic experiences available to guests of the resort, such as a sunset cruise and a guided group snorkelling trip in the stunning Baa atoll.

“It’s paradise. I am amazed at everything from the beautiful views, to the magnificent installations and the super friendly staff. It is such a clean and quiet resort filled with lots of things to do and try. The food is delicious! I still haven’t tried anything I haven’t liked. And probably won’t until I leave,” Jessica said.

“I hope that by the end of the experience I have learnt a lot more about sea turtles, made new friends and have a nice tan! It is a dream come true and there is much I can take away from it.”

The Olive Ridley Project together with Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu also offers a unique three-month turtle internship exclusively for Maldivians, where local students are taught about turtle husbandry and turtle medicine. The intern works alongside the veterinarian at the rescue centre, assisting them with surgeries and the daily running of the centre. This paid internship offers a one-on-one opportunity to work with an experienced vet in turtle conservation.

Three islands — Coco Bodu Hithi, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Privé — comprise the Coco Collection brand.

Coco Bodu Hithi, the flagship property in Coco Collection’s portfolio, is a chic retreat where you reconnect with yourself, your loved ones and the wonder of the natural world. Translating island life into contemporary sophistication, the resort, which is accessible by a 40-minute speedboat ride from the main Velana International Airport, offers 100 villas that are surrounded by the calm view of the lagoon and the soothing sound of the waves.

With seven restaurants and bars, Coco Bodu Hithi celebrates and offers a variety of exquisite cuisines, taking inspiration from the Maldives and further afield.

An award-winning wellness zone on stilts over the clear water, Coco Spa is a sanctuary for the soul. Mindful of the healing properties of nature and the ocean, the spa is designed to retreat for an escape, whether a massage in one of the eight treatment rooms or yoga on the pavilion overlooking the ocean and beach. With a range of products from the Paris label Thémaé combining the healing properties of tea, therapists at Coco Spa are trained in techniques to treat the mind, body and soul. An overwater gym within the zone inspires guests to keep up with their regime of active well ness when away on a holiday.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is dedicated to the inspiring beauty and natural wonder of the Maldives. Here, environmentally-conscious touches are woven into luxurious natural surroundings and initiatives contribute to the environmental and social sustainability of Maldives.

At USD 45,000 a night, Coco Privé is the first private island for exclusive hire in the Maldives. Secluded and utterly discrete, the island is perfectly designed for guests to escape to an entirely private paradise.

With a master residence and five guest villas all with breathtaking views, a lavish dining room, purpose-built kitchen, cocktail bar, wine cellar, library, indoor and outdoor gym areas, sauna, and a 40-metre pool, this 1.4 hectare island is the perfect space to indulge in anything you can imagine.

A dedicated team of personal staff including private chefs, butlers and spa therapists ensure a level of service that is unparalleled. Every guest is given a completely personalised experience, and this is what makes stays on the island so exceptional.

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