Like a shell holds the sound of the sea inside it, the Seychelles is proxy for paradise preserved. For this place of virgin beaches (with blonde boulders that seem nonchalantly tossed into place), tropical rainforests and azure waters, is so otherworldly – it’s no wonder that early explorers thought they’d stumbled upon the original Eden.
I have just returned from a week of heady, sybaritic pleasures at North Island, Fregate and Six Senses Zil Payson, and remain amazed at the levels to which these destinations honor the very things we take for granted. First logged in the 1500s by intrepid Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, the beauty of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago have held us in their collective thrall ever since. To this day it remains a destination of standout experiences particularly for those in search of jaw-dropping natural beauty, geographical isolation and the kind of barefoot luxury that strikes a primal chord in all who visit.
As difficult as it may be to believe, just twenty years ago North Island was uninhabited and overrun with invasive vegetation and a rat population fit for the Pied Piper. It’s savior came in the form of Wilderness Safaris’ who stepped in and set in motion a radical biodiversity and rehabilitation program that has seen it go on to become an eco-tourist destination par excellence. I was last at North Island ten years ago but found it as transformative and transcendental as I did when I first had the privilege of visiting it. North Island offers an experience of epic proportions, neither a resort nor a hotel, time spent here is precious because the protection and preservation of this place requires an emotional intelligence you will battle to find elsewhere. North’s strong eco-consciousness is evident from the issuing of your own glass straw upon arrival to the stringent waste management processes they have employed, including extensive recycling, grey water systems, and their own sustainable water bottling plant. We were fortunate enough to witness conservation in action on the island too, with turtles hatching on the beaches where the island’s environmentalists could give us a first-hand account of their marine conservation policy. The opportunity to spot key bird species in the forests, including the rare Seychelles white-eye that were successfully reintroduced to the island – is a reality. The views of the turquoise and green from your villa on North Island, handcrafted by local Seychellois carpenters create a feeling that this is your own private island. Add to this endemic tortoises, indigenous birds and plants that have all returned – and the eleven no-expense spared villas, this is wild abandonment at its absolute best.
There’s the self-same level of extraordinary care and attention to everything at Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the private island of Felicite. From the resort’s extensive spa offering that can be combined with a dietary menu to suit, as well as daily yoga classes that take place in a pavilion specially positioned to catch sunrise. It was by far the best food I have ever had the privilege of eating anywhere in the world – and I say that with absolute conviction. With the services of a sleep ambassador on hand to talk you through and improve upon any troublesome nocturnal patterns, there was nothing about this resort that didn’t impress me. The island has also undergone a decade-long rewilding program that has successfully cleared the invasive coco plum to allow for the re-emergence of endemic species such as the iron tree (vateriopsis seychellarum) of which there are only 40 mature trees left in the world.
More impressive still is that the resort’s tech-savvy footprint makes use of photovoltaic solar panels and a reverse osmosis plant and crystal water refinery, that delivers all the trappings of a luxury lifestyle with none of the toxic output. And that holy grail of the hospitality industry – service, is tip-top here too with 200 staff for just 30 villas! While the resort delivers at every level, all the elements of a private island escape remain, so should you choose to do nothing more than snorkel among powder-blue surgeon fish and stripy Moorish idols or laze in a hammock on the beach where turtles lumber up to lay their eggs in season, you’ve still come to the very best place.
When you consider that islands are microcosms of their continental counterparts, the success of North Island and Six Sense Zil Pasyon is a success for us all.
If you would like to explore the Seychelles on your next trip, email firstname.lastname@example.org.