Marlon Brando’s Private South Pacific Island Opens to the Public

The Brando, a new resort, gives travelers access to the star’s Polynesian getaway.

When Marlon Brando met Tarita Teriipaia, she was a 19-year-old boatman’s daughter living in French Polynesia, and he was starring in Mutiny on the Bounty. During the days, Brando played Fletcher Christian, the lieutenant who wanted to stay with the clothing-averse island natives, and at night he played a similar role, seducing Tarita on Teti’aroa, an atoll he’d found while scouting for locations. He liked the island so much he bought it and the girl so much he married her. They kept returning to the spot for the next 50 years. Now, a decade after the actor’s death, The Brando, a new resort named for him, is welcoming visitors to this private paradise for the first time.

The Brando sits in the bright blue waters 30 miles north of Tahiti and is designed for travelers who like their luxuries simple and their beaches empty. Each of the island’s villas has a private plunge pool, beach access (in the form of neatly groomed trails), and outrigger canoes at the ready. Visitors can go deep sea fishing, wander the uninhabited island, or head to the spa, which is located on a pond that served as a retreat for the Tahitian Royal Family. The resort is modern and plush – yes, there is Wi-Fi – but it’s also a tribute to what Brando found in the Pacific: tranquility.

Photo: Tim McKenna/

What differentiates this spot from other high-end retreats is, quite simply, the place itself. Tetiaroa is – thanks largely to Brando’s largess – completely unspoiled. The water is as clear as the air and solitude is never farther than a short walk or paddle away. Tahiti is only a 20-minutes flight away, but it feels farther than that.

“If I have my way,” Brando once remarked, “Teti’aroa will remain forever a place that reminds Tahitians of what they are and what they were centuries ago.”

Brando always had his way, and the new resort achieves that goal by offering access to one of the last pristine environments capable of preserving the traditional island way of life. Yes, the sheets have high thread counts and the chefs have experience in prominent restaurants around the world, but the sun is the same and the sand is the same and any sailor would be tempted to stay.

Photo: Tim McKenna/

Photos by Tim McKenna/