By OCTAVIA MUIR
A Hidden Gem
Set amongst some of the bluest waters in the world and an unrivalled privacy like no other. North Island is an idyllic island, holiday haven as well as a honeymoon hotspot. So much so it has been endorsed by the likes of George and Amal Clooney, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Winning various elite awards over the years such as The National Geographic World Legacy Award (Conserving the Natural World), it’s obvious why this is such a loved resort. We recently caught up with Ayyoub Salameh, the General Manager at our partner resort and discussed the North Island “way of life”.
Guests at North Island have the opportunity to escape the every day and be transported to an undulating land of effortless eco-luxury. The island situated 30km from big island Mahé is defined by its varied topography. From green grassy plateaus, lush tropical rainforests, untouched white sand beaches, and azure waters. There really is no question over why guests hardly leave the tranquil of this island other than to go diving or fishing.
With an ethos that embarks on making it their “personal mission to create your dream holiday, whatever that may entail”. North Island has got it right and showcases how “sustainability and luxury can very easily coexist”. Fusing energy and relaxation, indulgence, and wellness as well as luxury and giving back. They have recognised the part they play in turning back the ecological clock of the island to restore and reverse it to the “fertile paradise” it once was.
After a long history as a coconut plantation from 1826 until the 1970s the Island has weathered the effects of the exploitation it was once under. After the collapse of the market, the plantation was sold, and North Island fell into disuse. This meant that many alien species of plants and animals were left and critically impacted the indigenous Seychellois flora and fauna.
As a result, North Island was purchased with the goal of restoring the unique biodiversity of the Seychelles to the Island. Something that the Islands “Noah’s Ark Conservation Programme” has been a comprehensive success in achieving. As now, Ayyoub tells us it’s “a place where species like the Seychelles blue pigeons, sunbirds, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and white-tailed tropicbirds, can flourish”. Invasive plant species are still being progressively cleared on a daily basis and replaced by thousands of native plant and tree seedlings grown in their nursery and then transplanted throughout the island.
As an increasing number of travellers are becoming aware of the impacts they have on the environment. Involving guests in this journey of recovery has been vital. Ayyoub explained that ” we strive to provide guests with a unique, educational experience” the island offers all the resources needed for this. With the opportunity to dive within “The warm-crystal clear waters “of the Indian Ocean guests can experience “a unique perspective on remarkable marine coral and fish biodiversity”.
Reviving North Islands Turtles
North Island is a critically important nesting site for the Hawksbill and Green Turtle. Both of these special species have been legally protected in Seychelles waters since 1994. Manifested through various beach protection efforts within their Noahs Ark Programme, the Island has been making a considerable effort to safeguard these turtles.
Monitoring and recording sea turtle nesting has been in place since 1998. Taking a proactive approach, North lsland has been “safeguarding the nesting sites of critically-endangered Hawksbills and endangered Green Turtles” for over two decades. As a result, they have seen a “remarkable increase in the number of turtles utilising the island to nest”.
Turtle tagging has been a breakthrough technology on North Island helping researchers monitor these Endangered species. This offers a way to gather knowledge to ensure island operations do not affect these endangered species and secondly to allow North Island to play its part in worldwide efforts supporting this type of conservation.
An achievement that only re-inforces their ongoing commitment and remarkable recovery journey that North Islands guests can be a part of. As guests are invited “to witness the hatchlings making their journey to the sea” leaving each and every “guest feeling deeply connected to the environment”.
With a philosophy “to always honour the environment in which we live and work above all else”. North Island is setting a precedent in eco-tourism, making “big changes by implementing small efforts every day”. Something that we and themselves share a hope that other destinations will continue to follow into the future.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF NORTH ISLAND