by Suzanne Morphet

North IslandCourtesy North Island

"You're going to North Island? Seychelles?" asked a colleague. "That's where Will and Kate honeymooned!" she exclaimed.

Yes, North Island inspires awe, excitement and more than a little bit of jealousy, even among well-travelled types.

Little wonder. This private island hideaway provides a haute Robinson Crusoe experience that begins as soon as you set eyes on East Beach, a perfect expanse of white sand trimmed with turquoise water.

North Island - SeychellesCourtesy North Island

Set back, but with exquisite views, are eleven large and very private villas. Number eleven - where Will and Kate stayed - is a multi-tiered extravaganza of more than 8,000 square feet  that stretches from the beach up into the coconut canopy. The other ten 'presidential' villas offer the same barefoot luxury with indoor and outdoor spaces converging so naturally under a soaring thatched roof that you might wonder 'Am I inside or out?'

Not that it matters, because the smart design carries over into the furnishings and decor. Natural materials - including the trunks and branches of takamaka trees - provide structure and shade, as well as surfaces you can't resist running your hands over, be it the sleek rosewood vanity in the sumptuous bathroom, or the gossamer bed curtains.

North Island - villaCourtesy of North Island

If you can drag yourself away from your villa - and I promise it will be difficult - you'll find an island that's being restored to its original glory. Aldabra giant tortoises munch on fallen fruit, hawksbill and green turtles nest on the beaches, and birds such as the tiny Seychelles White-Eye trill from the treetops.

North Island - kayakCourtesy of North Island

Offshore experiences are just as special. Scuba dive or snorkel along the colourful coral reefs. Paddle a kayak around the island and stop at a secluded beach for a swim. At day's end, dine al fresco with toes in the sand and drink in hand, as the sun sets over West beach.

 Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Fall/Winter 2017 issue.

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