Tetiaroa: Marlon Brando's Sustainable Paradise

There’s no getting around the fact that Islands, by their very definition, are isolated from the outside world. That isolation often serves as a huge handicap when it comes to sustainability – especially for those islands that have become popular tourist destinations and require resources that far outweigh their natural supply.

As a result, most of these islands have to ship in everything from milk to fresh water to diapers and then have to ship it all back out again once it’s been used up and transformed into a pile of trash. 

In other words, tiny islands often have huge carbon footprints. But that doesn't have to be the case.

Meet Tetiaroa, a beautiful little spec in the Pacific that is thirty-three miles north of Tahiti. It was famously renamed Marlon Brando Island by the locals back in the 1960s after the actor purchased it shortly after filming The Mutiny on the Bounty there. For the next forty years, it served as his refuge and he vowed to preserve it no matter the cost.

 Today the island is still owned by the Brando Estate and many of the late actor’s ideas about sustainability have been put into place during the recent construction of an ultra-exclusive eco-resort there. Perhaps the most innovative of which is the seawater air conditioning system, an idea that Brando originally had forty years earlier, wherein cold seawater is pumped through the resort’s buildings in order to naturally cool them. It’s the first system like it in the world and one that has reduced energy requirements by an astounding 70%. The remaining energy needs are supplied via a biofuel power station that uses local coconut oil. Additionally, the resort boasts buildings constructed from local materials, an expansive garden to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the restaurants, vast solar arrays to power a fleet of electric vehicles, and a non-profit research station to study and document the island’s unique flora and fauna. All of which adds up to the fact that The Brando Resort is the first LEED platinum certified resort in the world. While that’s certainly impressive, it’s only the first step for the ambitious resort, whose ultimate goal is to be 100% self-sustaining and completely carbon neutral.

Unfortunately, a stay at The Brando doesn’t come cheap, but it’s nothing compared to the cost our planet already pays for the typical trip to paradise.


Photos courtesy of The Brando Resort.