This afternoon on Tikehau, Jason and Frank took off to a small island near the pass to do some kite aerial photography. In the process, they stopped to check out a motu just to the south, which had some cool-looking boats parked around it. They ended up meeting Chris O’Callaghan and his wife Greta, resort managers at Ninamu, a joint venture owned by Chris and his partner, who happens to also be the former owner of Billabong. Yes, that’s right, Billabong. They got the full tour, and Jason and Chris got to talking, and we were invited back later for a beer.
So we went back this afternoon and I got a chance to see the place. Chris built it with his own two hands, out of materials sourced locally. He uses 22 solar panels to power it and carries 15,000L of water in cisterns on the property. The buildings are made of a combination of ironwood with palm thatch, and concrete block covered in coral chunks or sand plaster. Nothing is plumb. Everything works with the curves and slants afforded by the natural elements that comprise it. Greta and Chris live on site with their 3 pit bulls and kitty cat. It officially opened for business this past week. They’ve had a couple of guests (Hollywood lawyers and British banking type folks), and they expect a crew of 9 from South Africa this week, but while we were there, it was quiet. They have a small boutique with some great Billabong swimsuits and clothes, so I’ll be going back to replenish my swimsuit collection by making some purchases tomorrow. I have several that are half-dead.
Though I’m sure it’s out of my own price range, it looked like the perfect place for a private destination wedding. Every bungalow is unique, there are only 6 to have, and the island is all your own, to share with the dogs and the coconut crabs. Oh, and the November/December surf is of world-famous caliber…so schedule it then, and make it a surf trip.
Chris said that just last week he saw a 20-ft. hammerhead eat a 6′ shark in the pass. CRAZY! We plan to hang out a little again tomorrow, and probably visit Bird Island afterward. Chris says the birds are everywhere, and you can walk right up to nests and birds in the wild all over the place. Just don’t get too close to the eagles’ nests. Chris says his last guest sauntered right up and almost lost his face getting dive bombed!