The combination of the south-east monsoon and the ocean floor profile changing as the sandbank has shifted makes for ideal surfing conditions at East Beach at this time of year. Our activities team is using this as the perfect excuse to get as many guests into the water as possible where they happily (and modestly) give lessons whilst showing off their skills!
The beautiful faces of North Island
Daniel Magnan is our Activities Manager and he has been leading his team of skippers and divemasters for just over a year. Dan has been part of North Island for seven years, when he joined as a maritime student. Since then, he has done countless dives (“I stopped counting after 2 000, bro!”) and has instructed many guests in obtaining their PADI licenses.
Dan and his team spend their days facilitating fun in the water around North Island, a wonderful life but one of great responsibility as their main priority is ensuring that safety is maintained throughout any activity, whether it be extreme or relaxed. The combined experience of our team is impressive and we daresay that there are no safer hands to be in!
An Island of abundance North Island was originally mined for its large amounts of rich guano deposited on the plateau by flocks of seabirds that had nested on the island in centuries gone by. The remaining deposits add greatly to the fertility of the soil, resulting in an abundance of fruits and vegetables all over the island: Mangos, bananas, breadfruit, bitter oranges, soursop, starfruit and guava grow wild – some endemic and others left behind by pirates and trade ships who planted food for return visits whenever they stopped over. Vanilla and tamarind can be found by those who know where to look and our organic planted gardens are filled with limes, lemongrass, lettuce and every type of herb that you can imagine.
We strive to utilise our island produce on every plate and manage to do so whether it’s in salads, on fruit platters, for jams and chutneys, ice creams and sorbets, to flavour dishes or just on their own. Of course, we also have the coconut trees that were planted in the days of North Island’s tenure as a copra plantation and they provide us with cool rehydrating coconut water or nutty flesh that is delicious to snack on.
Boardroom with a view
The “boardroom” is one of many popular private dining spaces on North Island. It got its name as one of the first tables built on the island and turned into the architects’ and designers’ boardroom table where they would lay out their plans every day. On a small deck, under a takamaka tree and with sweeping views across East Beach and the sea, it’s a wonder that they ever got any work done. At certain times of the year, the waves lap up right against the deck. When the beach naturally grows again – as part of North Island’s endless beach movement rhythms – it is not unusual for turtles to plough their way through the sand to lay a clutch of eggs in full view of the boardroom diners.
Turtle tagging on North Island
North Island is a critically important nesting site for two species of sea turtle, the Critically Endangered hawksbill and the Endangered green turtles. Both species are the focus of conservation programmes throughout their natural range across the planet. In Seychelles, turtles have been legally protected since 1994.
As part of our ongoing research efforts, a total of 122 turtles have been tagged by the North Island environment team since 1998, with uniquely numbered titanium turtle tags. These tags allow anyone to identify the turtles and, if they are sighted on another island, find out when and where they were tagged.
As green turtles nest at night, fewer of these have been tagged on North Island but we have had much success with the day-nesting hawksbill turtles. Just over 100 hawksbill turtles have been tagged on North Island, of which some 55 have been re-sighted by people on the Island in following years.
One of these tagged hawksbill females has proved to be something of a North Island regular since she was tagged in 2004. Of the 12 nesting seasons since then, she has missed only four of them. One of the largest hawksbills ever measured on North Island, she is very relaxed around people and has been known to lay her eggs on East Beach just metres from the Piazza as guests enjoy their lunch.