More on Plopping…After A is B. Barefoot Luxury.

Besides the day-to-day stress, the unpredictable profound pandemic has created its own subset of stress. Is it safe to go, is it better to stay home still? Tahiti has very strict protocols in place.

A short list of Perfect Places to Plop. Some places you can feel, they cast their spell on you immediately, The Brando is certain to cast its spell the moment you arrive. Tetiaroa is treasured among Tahitians who know it as a sacred place. So sacred, that at one time the coconut-dotted white sand beaches and crystalline lagoon of this uninhabited atoll was an exclusive getaway for Tahitian royalty.


Tahiti – The Brando. When filming Mutiny on the Bounty here in 1962, Marlon Brando called the island of Tetiaroa “beautiful beyond capacity to describe,” so it’s only fitting that his namesake resort leaves visitors inadequately equipped to explain its appeal.  An epic island retreat, not just for former Presidents, a refresher to remind you of its infinite charms! Mere mortals can now safely gather at The Brando Island with the strict French Polynesian Govt. COVID 19 testing mandates in place. Travelers can feel secure escaping to this island paradise, as the Tahitian government has strict pre-arrival Covid-19 rules.

Tetiaroa Island - The Brando
Private Tetiaroa Island , The Brando
Pool The Brando Island

From the air, Tetiaroa Island is nary a speck of tall swaying coconut and vivid green palm fronds surrounded by the palest of brilliantly clear turquoise seas visible from your private plane that transports you from Papeete  to the private island. Your first glimpse is of startling gem blue seas contrasted by white sandy beaches punctuated with miles and miles of jade green palms – a beautiful necklace of sea surrounding the pristine white beaches. 

The Brando Island

Photos provide glammy perspective, however the absolute beauty of the warm indigo seas, the stillness, occasionally interrupted by native birdsong, the natural beauty of the island must be experienced. A rare combination of nature and a man’s love for an island he called home for many years. The Brando experience is unlike any other – imagine balmy breezes, warm gentle seas teeming with flamboyant tropical fish and curious turtles, black night skies filled with thousands of stars, the Southern Sky is also a star at The Brando. The resort was designed to reflect Polynesian lifestyles and culture.

Needs are met before you even think of asking. The staff is extremely efficient and beyond friendly – they are fun, and they seem to be genuinely pleased to assist in any matter. The Villas – in total, 35 stand-alone unobtrusive villas, secreted on white sandy beaches with glorious water views, and nudged into a private thatch of shrubs, fragrant tropical flowers, and swaying coconut palms. The 22 villas along West Turtle Beach and 13 along South Mermaid Bay have been carefully designed to reflect the Polynesian lifestyle and traditions. If you enjoy seclusion, even while knowing there are villas nearby, this should become your tropical paradise. Each day, I saw more guests at dinner, however I felt like it was my own private pristine island as I rarely encountered other guests during the day. 

Out of this world Spa – So gorgeous, relaxing, and stunning architecture. A brief bike ride beneath the towering coconut fronds and you arrive at the secluded pond, the actual location where the Tahitian Royal family once withdrew to rest and indulge in relaxation routines. A natural haven, the spa villas are hidden amid the dense jungle; dragonflies and enormous Lilly pads adorn the scene from your perch above the pond.

Spa Hut The Brando Island
Path to The Spa, The Brando Island

The Brando is a fully inclusive Sanctuary: meals and beverages, a spa treatment each day and an excursion. The Brando is pure paradise. You won’t want to depart!

Paradise The Brando Island

Bora Bora is a tiny South Pacific Island escape northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. From the sky, it appears as a shimmering green gem plopped into a sapphire expanse of ocean. Surrounded by tiny islets bordered with bright white sand, like a string of pearls floating in a turquoise lagoon ringed by a protective coral reef.

It is no less stunning once you land, the famed posh Four Seasons Resort – is our favorite, highlighted by thatched-roof bungalows hovering over the water, many with private pools. Bora Bora is a divers or snorkelers paradise; the healthy unspoiled reefs are rich with sea life. The dormant volcano rises in two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point is 727-feet and offers the most majestic views and great woodland hikes.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

There is a dreamy private island paradise that feels safe in this ever-changing global oyster; a pearl of a property. Many of our clients have escaped to this island paradise. Set on a motu (islet) on the northeast side of the lagoon, the Four Seasons Resort enjoys uninterrupted views of the dramatic peaks of Bora Bora, which are particularly captivating at sunset. Enchantment begins on the wooden power boat, speeding across the gorgeous aqua seas to the Four Seasons Bora Bora. The cool breeze and surf splashing as you breathe in the fresh air and absorb the astonishing tropical views.

The beach front Villa estates are secluded, have their own pools, and literally feel like private mansions on the pale azure Bora Bora seas. Each over water bungalow has sections of glass floors, you see fish, stingrays, and other marine life, nature at its best, swimming underneath your room! I found myself sitting on the floor, peering for underwater creatures. Furnished with large, plush, king-size beds, a full living room, a spacious outdoor deck, some with plunge pools and every amenity you’d expect to find in a 5-star hotel room.

The bungalows have been recently refurbished, inspired by a traditional Polynesian village, a collaboration between local architect Pierre-Jean Picart and San Francisco design firm BAMO. Additionally, six plunge pools were added to existing overwater bungalow suites, bringing the total number of overwater accommodations with pools to 27, and the total overwater room count to 108.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bor

This is also a perfect combo visit arrive first to The Brando – exhale, recover your balance and for a more active lifestyle mosey to PPT and jet over to Bora Bora. Both are hedonistic perfection!

The Marquesas, Tattoo Art

Historically there was no writing in Polynesian culture, so the Polynesian’s used tattoo art filled with distinctive symbols to express their uniqueness and individuality. Tattoos can indicate status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and one’s rank within the local society. Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed. Tattooing has a long history in the Oceania region, with some of the earliest examples of Polynesian tattoo art showing up more than 2,000 years ago. Each Polynesian culture has its own interpretation on tattoos, from the varied motifs to the tools and techniques. The work is often intricate and deeply meaningful.

French Polynesia, farewell.

The Polynesian islands that were first visited were the Marquesas Islands, which were found by European explorers and the Spanish navigator, Alvaro de Mendana de Neira, in 1595. However, the European navigators showed little interest due to the lack of valuable resources. Captain James Cook was the first navigator trying to explore the Polynesian triangle. In 1771, when James Cook first returned to Tahiti and New Zealand from his first voyage, the word “tattoo” appeared in Europe. He described the behaviors of the Polynesian people in his voyage, which he called tattaw. He also brought a Tahitian named Ma’i to Europe and since then tattoo started to become rapidly famous, primarily because of the tattoos of Ma’i.

Hiva Oa

My epic Journey on Lindblad National Geographic Ship Orion from Papeete to the Marquesas yielded a small collection of photos of local tattoo art.  I expected to discover more, however the locals were very pleased to let me photograph their body art. One man in Fatu Hiva asked me for $30 to photograph him, he explained there was no work on his island. I later discovered he told another guest five dollars. Lesson: hard not to look like a tourist on remote islands! Half of his face was tattooed, a work in progress, and I didn’t provide the additional funds for the second half.

A few centuries ago, one of the easiest ways to figure out where a Polynesian person came from was to look at their tattoos. Marquesan art and architecture were highly developed and Marquesan tattoo designs, which often covered the whole body, were the most intricate in Polynesia.

Tools of the Trade. Although many years have passed, the tools and techniques of Polynesian tattooing have changed very little. For a very traditional design the skill of tattoo art was usually handed down through generations. Each tattoo artist, or tufaga, was said to have learned the craft over many years of serving as an apprentice. A young artist in training often spent hours at a time, or even days, tapping designs into sand or bark-cloth using a special tattooing comb or au. The tattoo master was a highly-regarded position within the ancient Polynesian culture. Regarded as spiritual leaders, these individuals had many responsibilities, from mastering the art of Polynesian tattooing to extensive travel within islands to perform their rites. The position was so demanding that they rarely had families.

Placement on the body plays a very important role in Polynesian tattooing. There are a few elements that are related to specific meanings based on where they are placed. A tattoo placement above the waist indicates that the design is related to someone’s spiritual nature or the heavens. If the tattoo is below the waist, then it goes down into the earth. The placements of some elements on the body, such as genealogy tracks on the back of the arms, suggest that the back may be related to the past and the front to the future.

In ancient times, you could distinguish the social class of the tattooed subject, as some were intended for gods, others for priests and still more for ari’i. The hui ari’i type is reserved for chiefs, whereas those of the hui to’a, hui ra’atira and ‘īato’ai, and manahune types are seen on war leaders, warriors, dancers, rowers and people of similar classes.

French Polynesia

Geometric patterns are the most common element you’ll see. The shapes, placement and other details change dramatically depending on the tattoo master, the location and other factors. For example, Tongan warriors had triangles and solid black parts that were placed down to their knees from their waists.

Welcome at Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas

As beautiful of a practice as it is, Polynesian tattooing almost suffered the fate of extinction. When Catholic and Protestant missionaries came to the islands in the 1800s, they forced islanders to dress in traditional English styles, therefore covering tattoos. Eventually, tattoos were banned, but as the 1980s came about, Polynesians started reclaiming their cultural identity. Since then, the practice has been revived and now flourishes throughout the islands.

Fatu Hiva French Polynesia
Hiva-Oa French Polynesia