If you're just coming to Tahiti to surf or paddle board then you might just want to click over to our ADVENTURES tab straight away. But if you like a good story, read on. You'll soon see that this private little island, Motu Mapeti, has loomed large in attracting luminaries from the world of cinema, art and literature for well over a century.
In the early 1890's, when the famed French artist, Paul Gauguin, was looking for a South Pacific paradise from which to capture the sensuality of Polynesian life, he settled for a time in a bamboo hut in the district of Mataiea on Tahiti's south coast. From there he doubtlessly gazed many times upon the tranquil islet known as Motu Mapeti.
Like Gauguin, another artist, author James Norman Hall was lured to French Polynesia. This famed co-author of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ started as a simple Iowa farm boy, but his love of adventure took him on a journey that would ultimately lead to this alluring, little island.
James Norman Hall’s thirst for adventure, lead him into World War I where he fought for the English, the French and finally the Americans. He became a celebrated, swashbuckling young pilot for the Lafayette Escadrille, and had numerous victories in the skies over Europe. But, after being shot down over Germany and held captive for several months, Hall spent his hours dreaming about where he’d like to end up next…should he survive. He longed for the adventure to continue and for a more peaceful way of life. So, when the war ended he, along with fellow pilot Charles Nordhoff, set sail for Tahiti. The two men became the most celebrated writing collaborators of the 20th Century and went on to co-author some of the most famous novels of their time -- among them ‘Pitcairn’s Island’, 'Men Against the Sea', and 'The Hurricane'.
Hall settled blissfully into island life and married, Sarah Teraireia Winchester, and they had two children --Conrad Lafcadio Hall and Nancy Ella Hall (Rutgers).
James and Sarah Hall loved to entertain, and would often host friends who visited from afar. Among them were the Wilders, a botanist couple from Hawaii, who owned Motu Mapeti at that time. And it was during one of these visits, at the Hall’s home in Tahiti, where the Wilders made an unprecedented gesture of friendship and offered their hosts the Motu as a gift. The Halls graciously declined. But it is said that on that night, a young Conrad was playing near the dinner table, captivating his audience, when the Wilders hatched a plan. If they couldn’t give the Motu to their treasured friends they would bestow it upon the young Hall. The Wilders never forgot their promise and 16 years later Motu Mapeti became his.
Conrad Hall went on to become a celebrated cinematographer, shooting such epic films as 'Cool Hand Luke', 'In Cold Blood' and 'Searching for Bobby Fischer’. He ultimately won Academy Awards for 'Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid', 'American Beauty' and 'Road to Perdition'. He's the only Tahitian to ever have won an Oscar or get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
When Marlon Brando visited the island with Conrad while they were both filming MGM's 'Mutiny on the Bounty' in 1962, the famous actor was inspired to find an island paradise of his own, and he ultimately secured the rights to an atoll named Tetiaroa -- formerly a retreat for Tahitian royalty and the current home of the Brando Resort.
Conrad fell in love with his island paradise. He spent 30 years bringing his vision to life and countless hours with friends and family designing, building, celebrating and most of all dreaming.
When Conrad died in 2003, he left Motu Mapeti to his three children; Conrad, Naia and Kate, and now for the first time, they have decided to offer their tropical paradise on a limited basis to an exclusive few visitors each year.
Hakanui Adventures founders Kate & Naia Hall are returning to their Tahitian roots after long careers in television & film. Like their grandparents, the Hall sisters want to share their rich Tahitian culture, their island neighbors and their active, liquid lifestyles.
"We've tried to make this a special place for dreamers” said Founder Kate Hall “because we are descendants of dreamers, and we're still working on making our dreams come true everyday,"