Ninamu is a hard place to reach, even if you reside in the capital of Tahiti, Papeete (never mind if you live stateside). From Papeete it’s a 50-minute plane ride to the Tuamotus, an island chain. Then you’ll land in one of those quintessential tropical airports whose lack of security and safety will remind you of just how many enemies the U.S. has. No one is protecting the runway. You deplane and walk across the tiny landing strip to an overhang made of pandanus leaves and bamboo framing. There is no customs & immigration. You just walk in. Coconut husks and coconut shells and dried up bits of coral are scattered around; and a fair amount of people are loitering, with no real reason to be here at the airport. From here, it’s about a 5-minute cab ride to a boat launch. Our driver is probably 400-pounds and 5’5″ and he has a 300-pound sidekick. What happened to the tattooed muscled Tahitian man with flowing black hair? Once at the boat jetty, it’s a 20-minute ride over to Ninamu.
You disembark onto a white beach and are handed a coconut with its top macheted off, for the cool coconut water. From there, it’s a quick walk through the open-air lobby and then along wood-planked pathways to one of the six bungalows, much of them built within the trees and rainforest of the island.
The mastermind behind it is Chris O’Callaghan, a former surfer from Australia who built the hideaway without tearing down a tree or harming any coral. He used washed up coral to build ceilings and walls. Driftwood staircases connect the floors of the bungalows. And furniture is made from salvaged woods like iron, lychee, tamanu, coconut, kohu, and treated pine. In case you are curious like me and wonder how they treat and stain the wood, they soak it in the ocean for three weeks.
I know you must be curious about a driftwood staircase. So there it is in the photo below, all the way on the left.
Prices are all inclusive, $400 per night per person.
Ready to castaway? Book it here
Then catch your ride to Ninamu …