A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
North Island is a small granite island in the Seychelles. The size of the island is 201 hectares. The island is one of the Seychelles’ 42 inner islands. North Island is a conservation project aimed at protecting the indigenous natural flora and fauna and is home to a luxurious luxury lodge resort.
The island has four beaches; East Beach, West Beach (or Grande Anse), Honeymoon Cove, and Dive Beach. It is 5.8 km north of Silhouette Island, and 27 km north west of Mahé. The granite island is also a sanctuary for endangered species of turtles and birds. The island seas welcome nesting sea turtles, and the palm forests are home to giant Aldabra tortoises and rare Seychelles white-eye birds.
North Island was the first Seychelles island to record a landing by seafarers. An expedition in 1609 by Captain Sharpeigh and the crew of the English East India Company vessel Ascension reported that the island had a large population of giant land tortoises.
From 1826 until the 1970s, North Island was owned by the Beaufond family from Réunion. During this time, the island had a plantation for growing fruits and spices, as well as producing guano, fish oil and copra. After the plantation was sold in the 1970s, the island fell into disuse.
In 1981, North Island was given to Marius Maier by his father. Marius Maier returned the island to its former pristine state before human settlers arrived there. He removed many unwanted animal and plant species, including pigs, rats, coconuts, casuarina, cows, Indian mynah birds, cats and a very intrusive weed called lantana. He re-introduced the Seychelles’ natural flora & fauna, including giant tortoises, certain birds, and trees such as takamaka, badamier and the famous coco-de-mer palm.
In 1982, Marius Maier and the villagers established a turtle nest monitoring center in the island. North Island was all but abandoned by its German industrialist former owner after the copra market crashed. Wilderness Safaris bought the island in 1997, and removed non-indigenous species, including more than two million rats, a herd of domesticated dairy cows and casuarina trees, which were recycled to build the villas.
In 2019, management of North Island Seychelles changed from Wilderness Safaris to Marriott’s ‘The Luxury Collection’ brand. But this resort is far above all other hotels in Marriott’s other luxury hotels.
North Island Resort
Wilderness Holdings Limited, an ecotourism company from South Africa bought the island in 1997 for US$5 million. They opened a private resort in 2003, aiming at the ecotourism market, with 11 private villas each with a private plunge pool and direct access to the beach. Villas 1-10 have two bedrooms, while the slightly larger Villa 11 suite is reserved for couples. George and Amal Clooney had their honeymoon in this suite. The resort has helped to develop the island and increase its population. During 2014, the villas were refurbished with a refreshed colour palette, and designer bathroom fittings.
The resort has 10 standard villas, and a special villa (Villa North). A gym, a huge spa, and a library, restaurant are in the village. La Vie by Golden Hands, the Spa offers a full menu of treatments. A 30-minute complimentary welcome treatment is offered by the spa to all guests. TheTechno-gym is located just below the spa. The resort also features a boutique, a dive center, a main pool, and a bar. You can shop for accessories and gifts from the North Island boutique. Each villa has an electric buggy for the guest’s total convenience. The villa pricing includes breakfasts, lunches, dinners and all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, except cocktails and drinks on the reserve list.
The villas one to ten are known as Presidential Villas. Each of them measures 450 square metres and can accommodate up to four travellers. Every villa has a large master bedroom with a writing area, change-room and dressing table. The massive en-suite bathroom is fitted with a marble bath, an indoor and an outdoor shower. An outdoor shower is useful to remove sand or muddy feet from the beach. It is also useful to rinse off deck furniture and even scrub an outdoor rug and wash items like paddle boards. The bedrooms are air-conditioned and have WiFi internet access.
A completely separate, large second room is furnished with woven coffee tables and sofa beds in crushed velvet and linen. This room can be used as a study, lounge, theatre or, at an additional cost, to sleep children aged 19 or under. At night it can be transformed into a complete private cinema with projector screen and surround sound.
Between the two rooms is an open-sided lounge and dining area which leads seamlessly onto the outdoor deck, and to the back of this is the kitchenette, which is used by your butler to help prepare drinks and food, if you choose to eat in your own villa.
In May 2011, it was the site for the royal honeymoon of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Actress Salma Hayek, David and Victoria Beckham, Liz Hurley, Jennifer Aniston, Pierce Brosnan and J.K. Rowlingm have all stayed in this resort.North Island stood in for Tracy Island in the 2004 live-action adaptation of the movie Thunderbirds. The resort is a magnet for the rich and famous.
The resort is one of the most expensive hotels in the world. Rates start at a hefty $6,000 USD per night, excluding 21% in VAT and service charges. You will also have to pay extra for the transfers by helicopter from Mahé, most spa treatments, and full-day excursions.
North Island offers an array of dining options. At The Piazza one can enjoy a candlelit meal consisting of tapas-style BBQ snacks, pizzas and cocktails. In-villa dining is also offered as guests can choose from the home-style menu and snacks from the stocked pantry. Exquisitely light tom yum talay sour soup is served at lunch followed by a zingy lemongrass popsicle with tiny chips of pineapple marinated in Malibu. Sous vide hen’s egg is served with flavourful morels. Salty pancetta and charred asparagus or, the sweet scallops are served with coconut sushi rice ‘risotto’ with lime and thyme. All food on North Island is either grown in the organic vegetable gardens, reared on the island, or caught fresh from the sea.
Activities on North Island Seychelles range from snorkeling, diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding, fishing and sunset cruises to exploring tropical trails by foot, bicycle or private buggy.
Access to North Island, Seychelles
Air Seychelles, British Airways, Air France, Condor, Lufthansa, South African Airways, Air Mauritius, Kenya Airways, Air Madagascar and Interior provide regularly scheduled air services from Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Africa and the islands of the Mascarene Plateau to the Seychelles International Airport on Mahe. Guests from the United States access Seychelles through Europe, through South and East Africa.
From Mahe, access to North Island Private Sanctuary is by a 20-minute private helicopter charter. Meet, and Assist service is provided at Seychelles International Airport and from all hotels on Mahe.