4 South Pacific Hotels Involved in Tattoo Culture

4 South Pacific Hotels Involved In Tattoo Culture
Credit: Courtesy Four Seasons

Day-dream realized, FOMO-inducing, Paradise on Earth—it’s cliché really—the endless descriptors used to define the magic of the South Pacific. But the landscape, an expanse of waters that are at the same time translucent and the most spectacularly varying shades of blue punctuated only by the equally impressive and stunningly pristine sand-ringed islands, can only be described in such terms that are at the same time familiar and hyperbolic. After all, this is the part of the world that seduced (and continues to seduce) romance travelers in search of postcard-perfect beaches, balmy days and even steamier nights (we’re talking fire show dancers and traditional pig roast presentations). Here, the overwater bungalow was birthed and luxurious accommodations, along with surfing (another South Pacific invention), plucked-from-the-sea fish dishes and fresh coconuts continue to be a regional hallmark.

Some of those super sumptuous, utterly divine hideaways are also home to traditional tattoo artists or can arrange for you to experience the best local artists. This is, after all, one of the first spots on the globe where the art form was practiced. Here’s where to get an everlasting souvenir of your visit to paradise. 

Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort 

An impressive jade peak—the dormant Mt. Otemanu—rises from the tranquil crystalline waters of this iconic island member of French Polynesia. For those who’ve never visited, many are delighted to discover that the main island, which is home to an airport, cruise terminal and that famous mount, is not the location of much of the lodging offerings. Most resorts are blissfully secluded on smaller atolls (islets) that share the crystalline lagoon with Bora Bora. Such is the case with this locally owned and operated hideaway that is so authentically Tahitian that it may appear straight out of a vintage film. Buildings, which are low-slung and thatched, are ensconced in seemingly endless tropical foliage or hovering over the tropical fish-filled transparent waters. The spa, an intimate open-air space of just a handful of treatment spaces, and an architectural and vibe-extension of the barefoot resort, hosts a local tattoo artist once a week or on request. He specializes in the traditional Tahitian method that features dark ink. 

The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora 

The pampering resorts of the paradise-on-earth island of Bora Bora are a lot like children—it’s impossible to pick a favorite. But just like a first-born daughter, this 107-villa retreat positioned on a private atoll and accessible only via the property yacht is a top choice for honeymooners, A-listers and reality stars. While practicing yoga on the sun-drenched grounds, splashing in the crystalline waters surrounding the overwater bungalows or lounging on the private sands fronting the impossibly idyllic beach bungalows are all wildly popular activities. Sign up for an outing that includes a trip to a local tattoo artist for a traditional take-home art piece crafted by tapping ink into the skin. Conclude the day with a sampling of poisson cru (raw tuna marinated in lime and coconut milk with veggies) in the shade of a palm tree.  

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa 

On one of the world’s most remote places stands a modern retreat made of glass and wood and inspired by ceremonial villages. Perched on an expanse of volcanic rock overlooking the restless sea, this intimate hideaway showcases the rugged awesomeness of Easter Island and its virtually untouched cultural offerings of Rapa Nui (the traditional name of the island and its peoples). The all-inclusive adventure resort specializes in active pursuits that celebrate the landscape (think cycling to archeological sites, trekking over flower-dotted fields and rocky outcroppings and experiencing sunrise while gazing upon the island’s most notable stone head statues). On Easter Island other Polynesian traditions such as crafting ovens underground and tattooing are also hallmarks. Although the resort doesn’t host an artist on site, it can arrange for guests to visit one of the (very few) local shops. It’s best to request a consultation prior to arrival.

The Laylow, an Autograph Collection Hotel

Hawaiian kitsch has gone chic. This hip, fairly new to the scene Waikiki hotel is an artful homage to all that surf-y pop culture that is so often associated with Hawaii and, more specifically, the island of Oahu. The 251-room hotel showcases vintage design items in the public spaces, which include the clubby Hideout, which morphs from coffee bar to tiki bar complete with fire pits throughout the day. And then there are the hula girls—a display of the vintage wooden dolls occupies the entirety of the wall behind the reception desk. Guest rooms are furnished with throwback furnishings that are as functional as they are photogenic. A mere block from the hotel sit other modern-meets-memory lane attractions including a revamped shopping center and myriad tattoo shops. Old Ironside Tattoo in neighboring HiChinatown is the most revered. An original home to tattooing for more than 60 years, the shop was first helmed by the famous Sailor Jerry, who pioneered bright and bold art for WWII American sailors.

Related: South Pacific Culture Is Intertwined with Tattoos Thanks to Its Romantic History

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