North Island: Where Royals Honeymoon
On the last day of my week-long stay at North Island, I was told that three years previously Prince William and Kate Middleton had spent 10 days on this magical island following their lavish royal wedding in London …
After having explored every nook and cranny of the island and the facilities it has to offer, I was not surprised that this particular exclusive hideaway in the Indian Ocean was Prince William and Kate Middleton’ destination of choice for their honeymoon. North Island is unique. Wild. Luxurious. Organic. Private. An island of unforgettable stretches of idyllic beaches of powder-soft sand.
Even the best resorts in the Maldives cannot compare – trust me, because I have had the opportunity to experience a handful of them, including Velaa Private Island (you can read my post about it here). North Island is so much more special, and the perfect place for you to spend a a few precious days together with your loved one.
Some might say, it is similar to the neighbouring Fregate Island. But can you really say London and Paris are similar?
Staying on North Island is all about your perfect private island moments. This is a large volcanic island covered in a thick blanket of lush green vegetation with a mere 11 villas meaning you hardly cross paths with other guests, the service is discreet and unobtrusive and often you have one of the beaches all to yourself.
The hotel was developed in 2003, which means with time building have weathered a little, giving it a feel of rustic chic. The villas are massive in size – in fact each is compromised of two villas: a large master-villa and a small adjoining villa for children and such. Everything is made from top-quality natural materials: different types of wood, stones, shells. The interior design is perfectly aligned with atmospheric feel of the island.
We arrived in style in a chopper that picked us up from the international airport, and 15 minutes later we were digging our feet into the softest white sand on the island.
Our first sunset: isn’t it just dreamy?!
Each day, I awoke before sunrise (around 5.30am) to witness the flaring sun slowly rising above the horizon from the beach in front of our villa. Every day a surreal experience, the memory of each one I treasure dearly living in a bustling metropolis.
Following a freshly-brewed coffee brought to us by our butler Andrew – did I mention that each villa comes with a private butler who is at your service 24 hours a day? – we went on an arduous hike, clambering up the mountainous terrain of the island covered in thick jungle whilst listening to sweet-sounding birdsong. Trust me, hiking on North Island was not easy feat.
Every day I had some variation of a grilled lobster dish for breakfast – isn’t that just utterly decadent? As soon as I arrived, I could eat anything I wanted, any time of the day – even at 3am if I so wished! That is certainly treatment of guests worth of royalty.
This was our open-air dining room, where we breakfasted and dined on some delicious island fare: freshly-caught seafood (lobsters and octopus were my favourite), either simply grilled or turned into more adventurous dishes, succulent fruits and vegetables (many of which were grown on the island) to accompany the meats.
In fact, the best fish we ate was tuna caught by us on our early-morning deep-sea fishing expedition (I must admit being guilty of snoozing throughout). Upon our return, the chef prepared excellent sashimi, followed by perfectly seared chunks of the same tuna. Here, I also discovered bread fruit, which tastes fantastic when roasted in the fire – a lovely soft texture, taste reminiscent of a potato, but with added touch of sweetness. You can see bread fruit in the photo above: it looks like chunks of pineapple next to my lobster.
North Island has long stretches of luminous white sandy beaches. East beach is the main beach running almost the entire length of the island, a stone throw’s away from each villa. The West beach is the perfect spot for a champagne sundowner whilst looking at the sky full of vibrant colours as the flaring circle of the sun sets in the ocean. And, of course, the aptly-named Honeymoon beach, a secluded beach perfect for a romantic getaway in the wilderness. Each day we picked a different stretch of the beach to explore, to sit down to listen to the soothing sound of the crashing waves.
On North Island, I experienced fantastic diving, the quality of which was on par with Maldives and Indonesia. One of the dives was perhaps my best and most memorable one ever – I was swimming amongst eight nurse sharks and I even had the courage to pet one of them (supposedly very safe yet extremely disconcerting!)- as well as massive schools of colourful fish, lobsters, eels, all in perfect harmony with gorgeous shapes of corals.
The open-air spa was is spacious and wonderful, offering stunning views down to the glittering ocean below – an ideal location to rejuvenate your mind and body. Natural herbal ingredients found on the island are used in treatments, making you feel at one with nature. The masseuse was fantastic with a perfect touch of the hand, making me fall asleep during every single massage.
A typical view from the West Beach at sunset. A perfect compliment to your glass of champagne. Or a private barbecue, if you so wish.
Relaxing in the setting rays of sun on West Beach… Although relaxing in a hammock is a paradox.
North Island is home to myriads of Aldabra giant tortoises, leisurely roaming about and occassionally getting drunk on fermenting mangoes. I saw my first drunk tortoise as we were making our way through the jungle in our little buggy, and the intoxicated reptile was scrawling across the path, unable to move out of the way, its eyes slightly cross-eyed. Yes, not only us humans enjoy getting a little tipsy.
Oh, and this is the presidential villa where Prince William and Kate Middleton stayed. Although for the sake of utmost privacy, they did rent out the whole island, costing them a small fortune… However, just imagine North Island all to yourself!
A few more of my favourite shots from this small paradise on Earth…