This Pacific Atoll Has Hosted High-Profile Visitors for Centuries

It's also one of the most remote places on Earth

A beach on Teti'aroa.
Saga70 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

If the name of Teti’aroa rings a bell, it could be for any one of a number of reasons. Barack Obama wrote a book there. Marlon Brando owned it for a while — and there’s currently a resort there named for him. The atoll, located in French Polynesia, was used as a location for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty — that’s where Brando first encountered it. But its history dates back far longer — and Obama and Brando weren’t the first big names to find themselves captivated by the place.

Besides their absolutely stunning scenery, the atoll also has another feature that makes it unique on the planet. “Tetiaroa and the other isles in French Polynesia’s Society Islands archipelago are the bits of terra firma most distant from the world’s landmasses — so distant they were the last to be settled by humans,” wrote Klara Glowczewska at Town & Country in 2017. That in and of itself has sparked the curiosity of many a visitor.

At Atlas Obscura, Bridget Alex ventured into the atoll’s long history as a resort. Alex noted that in the 18th century, Tahitian royalty used to sail for hours to visit the atoll — sometimes for stress-relieving getaways, and sometimes to host diplomatic functions.

Much of the atoll’s history remains unrecorded, and Alex’s article discusses the efforts of the Tetiaroa Society, which — in Alex’s words — “aims to conserve both the natural and cultural heritage of the alluring atoll.” It’s not a small task, but given the rich history and environment there, it’s not hard to see why they’ve taken it up.


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