Good reasons to visit
- A preserved and authentic archipelago.
- Ten high islands and eighteen "motus", contained in a single lagoon with stunning colors.
- A diversity of landscapes.
- A pearl known for its beauty and perfection.
- A place steeped in history: many Catholic edifices dating from the nineteenth century and especially St. Michael's Cathedral.
- Land and water based activities.
Do not miss
- The village of Rikitea, site of the newly renovated cathedral of Saint Michel de Mangareva, whose altar decorated with pearls and mother-of-pearl is quite magnificent,
- The convent of Rouru and the tomb of Maputeoa, the last king of the island, located in the hills above the village,
- The mother-of-pearl engraving centre,
- The pearl farms,
- Mataihutea headland, which offers views over the bay of Rikitea,
- The island of Taravai, with the "ghost village" of Agokono, the church of Saint Gabriel and some lovely beaches with sand the colour of curry powder,
- The island of Aukena, with its hexagonal watchtower overlooking the turquoise lagoon, its church, many ruins and gorgeous beaches of white sand,
- The island of Akamaru, with the church of Notre Dame de la Paix emerging from the lush, colourful vegetation,
- Motu Tauna, or "Bird Island",
- The various “motu” (islets) of fine sand.
Did you know that?
- Mangareva is also known as Maareva.
- The archipelago comprises ten high islands and eighteen "motus", contained in a single lagoon.
- The St Michael’s Cathedral of Mangareva is famous for its altar decorated with pearls, coral and mother of pearl shells.
- The Gambier archipelago is the cradle of Catholicism in French Polynesia. It is featuring more than one hundred stone buildings of the eighteenth and nineteenth century: churches, presbyteries, convents, schools, weaving workshops, bread ovens, lime ovens, and watchtowers.
- "E na koe" means "hello" and "maro'i" means “thank you” in Mangareva local language.
- There is a time difference of one hour between the Gambier Islands and Tahiti.
You are in the Gambier Islands, the most remote archipelago of French Polynesia, situated about 1700 kilometers south-east of Tahiti. Because of a cooler climate than in the other archipelagos, pine trees and coconut palms may be seen growing together and they are surrounded by a vast lagoon with multiple shades of blue. This archipelago is a true splendor of nature…it contains 18 motus and 10 high islands sharing the same lagoon and offering a great diversity of landscapes.
Mangareva, the main island, offers some of the most beautiful religious buildings in Polynesia (churches, convents) that it owes to Father Honoré Laval who installed a veritable theocracy there between 1834 and 1871; he practiced tabula rasa on the ancient civilization, thereby sinking it into oblivion. St. Michael’s Cathedral is, without contest, a monument which is worth the detour; its altar is sculpted with mother-of-pearl and adorned with pearls. The trip up Mount Duff allows one to gaze at superb panoramas and the tour by boat on the lagoon is an excursion not to be missed under any circumstances.
Mangarevans are fishermen, farmers and cattle breeders. Pearl farming is strongly developed there providing an activity for numerous islanders who pride themselves in the beauty of their pearls due to their truly exceptional colors.
The airport is built on Motu Totegegie northeast of the lagoon, accessible by the commune’s shuttle boat. Rikitea, the main village, is a peaceful place where the houses embellished by flowering gardens border a single street.
For a tour of a fascinating place full of beauty and history at the end of the world …the Gambier Archipelago deserves to be visited for its multiple possibilities of visits and excursions.
Things to do
- Boat tours,
- guided visits to the other main islands (Akamaru, Taravai, Aukena),
- picnic on the “motu” (islets).
- Circle island tour,
- pearl farms visit,
- religious sites visits,
- craft center visit,
- car rental.
- Surface area : 54 sq. miles
- Circumference : approx. 23 km (14.3 miles).
- Highest peak : Mount Duff (441m approx. 1446 feet).
- Districts : Rikitea (main village), Taku, Apeakava and Kirimiro.
- Population : approx.1390 inhabitants.
- Airport : Located on Motu Totegegie, the local council operates a small ferry service to the main island.
- Bank(s) : no bank or ATM.
- Post office(s) : yes, in Rikitea.
- Public phone(s) : yes, a few cabins at the village.
- Shop(s) : yes. Several grocery stores around the island.
- Restaurant(s) : besides the guest houses, the options for eating out are limited, apart from a few snack bars around the island.
- Medical services: 1 infirmary (in Rikitea)