Our experience of North Island in the Seychelles
There are only 11 villas and a team of 130 on this 2sq-km private island paradise. Many of our clients arrive by helicopter but I came by boat from Silhouette Island. Having worked at two African island lodges and seen the challenges that come with operating in remote locations so open to the elements, I was curious to see how North Island could offer such a sumptuous experience. This glorious spot is for those who have a considerable budget, expect Maldives service and privacy, and want to really feel that Robinson Crusoe vibe. It’s for those looking for the style, decadence and understated glamour of Mustique.
On arrival, I was introduced to all the important people who all looked young, enthusiastic and fun, and most importantly, to Amal, my friendly butler from Sri Lanka who was always on hand should I need anything. Using a brief questionnaire I had completed prior to my arrival, they had typed a suggested itinerary for my 24 hours in heaven. Structure doesn’t normally equate to beach time, but it was so enticing that I was thrilled at their thoughtful planning. Equally, they wouldn’t have minded if I had decided to throw it in the bin and do my own thing. The team are all there to ensure you are doing what you want when you want.
David, my young Experience Host, welcomed me before Amal led me off to my villa, which, frankly, was a full-blown house and garden that led directly onto the most pristine, white-sand beach you can imagine. Being in Villa 1, I didn’t have to walk far to get to the Piazza, the main bar, chill-out and dining areas.
First things first, Amal gave me a buggy-driving lesson and soon I was purring up the winding road and into the jungle to the spa for my treatment with a view. The vista over the main beach from the open-fronted spa is utterly breathtaking, and I thoroughly enjoyed my neck and foot massages. With only two treatment rooms, it was wonderfully quiet apart from the sea breeze – a real nature retreat, far from the madding crowds.
Later, I went snorkelling and then set off on my buggy again to check out West Beach and the new sunset bar and restaurant. I passed Honeymoon Beach, which is a secluded part at the south end of the beach, and parked the buggy up at the bar. The cocktail list was most impressive and I felt obliged to try a local rum cocktail to go along with the beautifully grilled lobster bitings they were cooking up for me. I can think of nowhere better to dig your heels in the sand and sit back to enjoy the sunset. The combination of a simple, barefoot beach bar with the ingredients of a top-end lodge was perfect. When I, thankfully, made it back to my villa in the dark, feeling rather confident in my new mode of transport after a sundowner, Amal had run me a hot bath and lit enough candles to illuminate a cathedral!
Since I was getting up early for a morning walk up one of the three hills on North Island, Spa Hill, I was conscious that I shouldn’t stay up all night looking at the stars after a deliciously fresh seafood dinner. However, when the moon started to rise from the ocean, I just had to watch one of life’s most beautiful sights and soak it all up, committing it to the memory bank.
Waking up to the sounds of the waves is one of the few things that makes me want to leap out of bed, which was lucky as I was going hiking. My guide was in his 18th year at North Island and was fascinating to talk to about how the island had evolved. We chatted away and, before I knew it, an hour had passed. Suddenly, we turned around on the top of a huge granite slope and had a beautiful bird’s eye view of the beach below. I could just make out my villa with its garden and pool, but the others were completely hidden among the palm trees and lush vegetation.
I don’t know how many guests were on the island but I only saw one other couple – this is definitely the place to come if you value your privacy. You need never leave your villa as you have everything you could possibly want just there, and the wonderfully attentive service of your butler is only a phone call away. It’s hard to get the balance right between great service and friendly staff – but they have perfected it. All the management seemed friendly and relaxed while being totally professional. North Island most certainly lived up to its reputation as the most exclusive and beautiful spot in the African Indian Ocean and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.