BAREFOOT LUXURY AT NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES
With my feet in the soft white sand and the sound of the gentle waves lapping the shore in front of me I took a moment to take it all in. I took a sip of my fresh coconut water and observed the huge school of fish that made patterns in the iridescent turquoise sea just steps away. A large heron flew out over the shore and perched itself on a granite boulder in the sea in front of me. As I had breakfast by the piazza I could see three baby stingrays swimming in the distance while a White-tailed tropicbird flew high above towards one of the three granite peaked hills. I was captivated by the view. North Island is an island paradise where nature and barefoot luxury come together effortlessly. It is a testament to the incredible conservation and rehabilitation the island has undergone over the last two decades.
Just a couple of days earlier as my helicopter made its descent onto North Island I was excited to finally be able to experience this hideaway for myself.
This was my first trip to the Seychelles and being the island addict that I am, I could not wait to see what the very exclusive North Island had in store for me. Little did I know that it would blow me away.
North Island is not your typical 5-star resort, it is much more than that. The team behind its success have not only created a super exclusive luxury retreat but their hard work to turn back the ecological clock and restore this island to the paradise that it is has led to a sanctuary where nature and resort merge seamlessly. To wake up and find a giant tortoise in your villa garden or to be able to spot resident baby rays in the sea below while on a hike or find the beautiful blue pigeon perched on a tree while strolling on the plateau aren't rare sightings but are part of the everyday environment on North.
With conservation being the very ethos of North Island and the passion with which it is delivered has created this positive energy on the island that I cannot explain.
In a nutshell, it is breathtaking, every experience unique and the willingness to give back addictive.
Spoiling guests is another thing the staff at North Island seem to be very good at. No detail is spared to please the guest. With your villa kitchen stocked with comfort foods, the loungers set up the way you like, your favourites served up at breakfast before you even order your hot meal the staff will spoil you and it will make it even harder to leave. Before we set out on our hike our villa attendant Janaka filled our water bottle with our favourite brand of sparkling water and handed them to us as we were about to start our hike. Just as we ended our 1.5 hour hike Janaka appeared again with cold towels and chilled coconuts. (I had listed sparkling water and fresh coconut water as my favourite drinks prior to arrival). From the welcome notes on the chalk board frames in the villa to the good night messages everyday North Island is truly full of surprises. If that isn't enough pampering, we returned to our villa every evening to find the sunken marble bathtub prepared with a warm herbal salt bath surrounded by candles. This sort of service is pretty hard to beat.
The villas are constructed with care and comfort in mind. Every one of the 11 villas on North Island is handcrafted using natural local wood, stone and glass. Complete with thatched roofs and an open plan, each villa has a large master bedroom and en-suite bathroom with a sunken marble bathtub and outdoor shower. Each presidential villa also comes with a second living / TV room and can also be converted into a children's room if need be. The 10 presidential villas are a huge 450m² in size and are cleverly hidden from view thanks to the lush, natural vegetation grown on the grounds, promising total privacy while still having direct access to the beach. The exclusive Villa North Island lies at the end of East Beach and is significantly larger at 750m². With a bridge, multiple decks and an outdoor spa it is no wonder that it has been the honeymoon choice for royalty and A-listers.
With just 11 villas and 201 hectares of island (about the size of Monaco) the experience at North is truly very personalised. It really does feel like you have the island all to yourself. I must add that if privacy is what you seek you can rest assured that you will find it on North Island. Every effort is made to ensure your needs are met.
Lightfoot Travel is a luxury travel company with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Dubai. It is made up of a team of experienced travel designers who can tailor-make any holiday for you anywhere in the world.
With a passion for travel these experts will seek only the best for their clients.
My Lightfoot 'travel designer' Victoria Troskie took care of everything for me. Victoria looks after Lightfoot's African holidays. She was born in Namibia and has worked in some of the most luxurious properties in Africa. Lucky for me, she also lived and worked on North Island for two years. With first hand knowledge of North Island, I could not have been in better hands.
Victoria recommended the best time to travel, booked my stay in the Seychelles, communicated with the resort and organised the meet and greet at the airport. Transfers and helicopter reservations were all taken care of. Also, a list of what I liked and disliked was communicated with the resort well in advance in preparation for my trip. Not to mention advice on which activities to try and what not to miss while I stayed at North Island.
A detailed itinerary with flight detail, information about the resort, helicopter transfer and schedule was sent to me and I was all set.
Before You Go
The great thing about North Island is that everything you wish can be catered to whenever you like. No prior activity bookings or restaurant reservations are needed. Everything can be taken care of when you get to the island.
A truly hassle-free booking experience!
North Island in the Seychelles lies 27 kilometers north west of Mahe Island and just 5.8 kilometres from neighbouring Silhouette island.
TRANSPORT TO ISLAND
You can get to North Island by helicopter with Zil Air. It is a short 20 minute flight and the view is incredible.
If flying by helicopter isn't for you the alternative would be to take a 40 minute ferry ride from Mahe to Silhouette Island and a short speedboat ride from Silhouette to North Island.
I would definitely recommend the helicopter ride there!
North Island is one of the volcanic inner islands in the Seychelles. These islands are considered some of the oldest in the world. They are known for their large granitic rocks.
North Island has 3 granite peaked hills that make a magnificent backdrop for the beautiful island scenery and offer wonderful hiking opportunities to guests.
The Seychelles has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 24 and 32 Celsius year-round. The weather is coolest and driest between May and September due to South East trade winds. During the months of December to March the winds change and blow from the North West which ushers in the summer warmer, wetter months. The transitional months of November and April bring gentle winds and calm seas with good visibility ideal for snorkelling and diving.
The weather was perfect throughout my stay in the Seychelles! (November 10 to November 15)
VILLAS & FACILITIES
10 Presidential Villas
Every villa has one master bedroom with en-suite bathroom (with sunken bathtub, shower and outdoor shower)
A second living / TV room which can be used as a children's room also comes with a toilet and outdoor shower.
An outdoor covered living room
Fully stocked pantry
Outdoor sundeck with loungers
Pool and sala
Large private garden
2 sea view loungers
Direct beach access
Air conditioning and ceiling fans
Private buggy use and bikes
1 Villa North Island (or villa #11)
With the exception of this villa being a couples only villa it has all the above amenities split over multiple levels, 750m² of living space, a bridge, outdoor spa and direct beach access. Ideal for honeymooners!
Spa and daily yoga
Techno gym equipped gym
Cliff-side infinity pool
Piazza dining, bar and lounge area
Padi Dive Centre
Snorkelling and Diving
Water sports (Kayaking, Surfing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding)
Fishing and sunset cruises
Nature walks and treks
3 powder white sandy beaches
West Beach Bar
CHECK IN / CHECK OUT
Check in is normally at 2pm but we arrived early, and Lightfoot Travel had already communicated our arrival time with the resort. We landed on North Island at 8.30 am and were in our villa right away!
Check out is usually by 11am but we were allowed to stay later and departed the island by 1pm.
Thanks to Lightfoot Travel our arrival and departure couldn't have been smoother.
What to Pack
Light coloured cottons and linens
Flip flops and sandals
Hiking shoes (with good grip)
Hats and sun visors
If you forget something fear not!
The island boutique is well stocked
With an all-inclusive package, North Island has a generous selection of offerings and activities. Some might find the rate on the higher end but consider what it includes:
All meals and beverages
Dining by design / picnics
Stocked up pantry catered to your liking,
Guided hikes and walks,
Diving and Padi dive courses
Snorkeling and diving
Water sports such as surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding
Daily yoga sessions
A complimentary 30 minute massage for Presidential villas and 60 minute massage for Villa North Island residents,
Use of bicycles and buggies,
Use of gym
For rates and enquiries for
NOAH'S ARK: TURNING BACK THE ECO CLOCK
At the heart of North Island's success is a very special conservation project named Noah's Ark. The hard work the team at North have put into conserving and rehabilitating the island is outstanding and the results are evident. Flocks of birds have migrated to the island and many native species have returned. Efforts are being made to introduce new species. The endangered Seychelles White Eye was introduced to the island in 2007 and is successfully breeding today. There are many other species prevalent on the island such as the Moorhen and White-tailed Tropicbird.
Once a plantation for fruits and spices, North Island became largely neglected and infested with rats and wild species of plants that were not native to the island. This inhibited the growth of native Seychellois flora and caused many bird species to leave. After being purchased by Wilderness Safari in 1997, a clean up of the island took place and the rats were finally eradicated in 2005. Ever since then, efforts to rehabilitate North Islands have progressed nicely and the island is thriving.
On our first day on the island we got a call from our butler Janaka that a turtle was laying eggs on one of the beaches and that we were being invited to come and observe. Unfortunately we did not make it on time but this is just a small example of how guests can also take part and observe the conservation efforts on the island. The turtle nests on the beaches of North Island are marked with bamboo sticks and coconut shells. Even the way they are marked seems to blend seamlessly with nature.
As we sat for a barbecue dinner at West beach one evening a conservation team was out searching for turtle eggs in an effort to protect them. I only noticed them because of the flash lights shining a distance away and our waiter explained to us what those flashing lights were. The return of the green and hawksbill turtles and the abundance of their nests are another indication of the success of the active conservation work.
In an effort to turn back the eco clock indigenous plants are grown in the island nursery and guests have the opportunity to choose one and plant it on the island grounds. I was very excited to be able to plant my own tree on North and to take part in the Noah's Ark project, be it in the smallest way. To have the opportunity to contribute was my was of thanking the island for letting me stay.
I hope to go back to North Island some day and witness the changes and see how big my tree has grown. It is one of those places that, I believe, will only get more wonderful with time.
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES ON NORTH ISLAND
Unfortunately for lack of time, I could not try the snorkeling & diving around North Island. Another reason to return!