Where do you go when you want to get away from the pressure of the rat race? Yes, but what if you already live in Tahiti? The 18th-century chiefs of Tahiti took their downtime at Teti’aroa, a lush atoll 30 miles to the north.
The emerging story confirms Teti’aroa was the vacation spot for the royal family of Te Porionu’u. But the islets also served other functions: Leaders from other islands and their delegations convened there for rituals and negotiations. The youngest members of chiefly families also partook in ritual fattening, or ha’apori, on the atoll: They holed up in dwellings, out of the sun, and fed on a high-calorie fermented paste of breadfruit and coconut water. After weeks they would emerge, looking plum royal: pale and fat.
Ongoing research also shows that Teti’aroa has been a prized destination for native Polynesians much longer than thought—probably ever since the archipelago’s largest islands, Tahiti and Moorea, were first settled, some 900 years ago.
The modern era is no different, as wealthy people in the know book vacations at the single resort on Teti’aroa. There are also intense efforts to conserve the ecosystem of the atoll and document its rich history. Read about Teti’aroa at Atlas Obscura.
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