Situated off the coast of Tahiti, Tetiaroa is a group of 12 small islands (motu) that sit on a stunning blue lagoon adorned by a coral reef. Just one view of the atoll from above, and it would be hard not to be captivated by it. And this is what exactly what happened with Marlon Brando, when he flew over Tetiaroa on a plane in 1960. The famous actor was so enamored by it that he decided to purchase it right away.
Not long after, Tetiaroa, which was once the retreat spot for Tahitian royalty, became the private getaway and sanctuary for the Hollywood actor, known for his eccentricity and monk-like attitude. He built a simple eco-friendly village, which consists of palm-thatched shacks. The village was carefully built so it does not take away from the beauty and innocence of the atoll. Brando renamed the island “The Brando” and entertained various guests, mostly archaeologists and ecologists.
10 years after Brando’s passed away, a Tahitian hotel chain decided to open up Tetiaroa to the world. Guests from around the world can now enjoy the beauty and solitude, which Brando discovered and cherished for many decades. These days, visitors are housed in 32 villas managed by exclusive resort also called “The Brando”. The villas are strategically located near the shore of the beaches around the Onetahi islet.
The resort is certainly more polished than Brando’s village, but it is sustainable in many ways. The breeze coming from the ocean remains as the cooling agent for guests sleeping in their “shacks”. Solar power and coconut oil are the main sources for energy. The villas are made of local timber and are equipped with indoor-outdoor bathrooms, small pools and terraces with a view.
“The Brando” is a versatile spot, in which you can decide to do as little as you like. You can spend the entire day lounging on the beach and enjoy the raw beauty of French Polynesia. But there are also facilities that pull you out of boredom if it arrives. Instead of motorized vehicles like jet skis and yachts, the resort offers kayaks, paddle boards, Polynesian canoes and snorkeling equipment. Since the whole atoll is surrounded by protected coral reefs, the snorkeling experience here promises to be nothing short of spectacular.
Although Tetiaroa exudes a castaway feel, staying here is not exactly like living at a bare minimum. There are two gourmet restaurants and two hotel bars that will keep you full and entertained every night. The atoll also maintains an organic fruit and vegetable garden, a boutique, a pearl shop and a luxurious over water spa. If you want to sweat it out, you may also use the resort’s tennis courts or ride bicycles through the woods. And if you just want to rest your tired body, avail of the daily spa treatments, which are included in the all-inclusive package you handsomely paid for.
Tetiaroa is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Tahiti, and is one of the Society Islands. The only way to reach the atoll is by flying in on a private plane. This method of transport is dramatically fitting as it reminds you of how Marlon Brando first saw this piece of paradise, and fell in love with it as you will most certainly do as well.