The mysterious and beautiful atoll of Tetiaroa is situated 30 miles from the island of Tahiti. It comprises 13 islets encircled by a coral reef.
Originally the summer residence of the ruling families and kings of Tahiti, Tetiaroa was considered to be the royal playground. The atoll was made famous by Marlon Brando, who decided to purchase it during the making of the "Mutiny of the Bounty".
One can only be seduced by the magic of the island, its charm, its beauty and the solitude of such an alluring and remote exotic paradise.
@ National Geographic Photos
Brando himself had no intention of destroying the natural the beauty of the island and even said: "If I have my way, Tetiaroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of who they are and what they were centuries ago".
In Tahitian Tetiaroa means "who stands apart" or "keeps its distance", keeping in line with Brando's values and hopes for the island. The names suits perfectly, as access to Tetiaroa is fairly limited, making it a remote, secluded and exclusive destination.
I remember spending time at the Hotel Tetiaroa, run by Teihotu (marlon Brando's son with Tarita Teriipaia) during my youth in rustic Polynesian style bungalows with no electricity on the island apart from that generated by the electric group. Even then, I thought that this was actually what paradise should be like...No fuss, just natural beauty, modernity was left in Tahiti. On the island, time was irrelevant, it is an out of this world experience, like being in the middle of nowhere. Besides the laughs of children playing, the only sounds one could hear on the island where coconuts falling, the cries of the birds and the relaxing roaring of the sea when it came to break on the coral reef.
@ Hotel Tetiaroa
To me Tetiaroa will always be synonymous of beauty, simplicity, mystery, tranquility and discoveries. One of the islet, Tahuna Iti, also named Bird island is famous for the thousands of seabirds who lay their eggs on the white powdery sands. This seabird sanctuary is both amazing and striking, just make sure you don't watch Hitchcock's "The Birds" before going there.
The hotel Tetiaroa I knew in my youth no longer is, as it was shut after Marlon Brando's death. Nowadays, the only way to visit the atoll, although you will not be able to access all of the islets, is on a catamaran day excursion.
@ Tahiti Tourisme
However, the magic will once again be open to visitors as in 2009, TetiaroaPacific Beachcomber began the construction of an eco-resort called "The Brando" comprising 47 deluxe bungalow villas (each with private plunge pools), a spa, fitness center, community pool, as well as various island activities including scuba diving and archaeological tours of royal Tahitian sites.
The resort is expected to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, reflecting Marlon Brando's passion for environmental sustainability.
To know more about Marlon Brando's Tetiaroa adventure, read "Waltzing with Brando" by Bernard Judge.