The Gambier

With currently only one scheduled flight a week from Tahiti, the islands of the Gambier are the most isolated of any of the islands in French Polynesia.  This isolation has ensured that the islander's way of life has changed very little in the nine hundred years since Polynesian explorers from the Marquesas first inhabited the islands.

 

The biggest external influence over the islanders was brought about by the arrival in 1834 of French Catholic missionaries, headed by Father Honore Laval, under whose guidance the gentle people of these islands learn to spin, weave and print to add to their ancient skills.  Today the islanders skills include the farming of black pearls and it is claimed that the best quality pearls produced in French Polynesia come from the waters of the Gambier Islands.

 

One other major legacy of Father Laval's stay was the erection of many neo-gothic buildings consructed of coral and stone of which over a hundred still exist today, with the finest example being the 2000 seat cathedral, which is found in the centre of Rikitea, the main town of the Gambier, located on Mangareva.

 

The islands of the Gambier are a mixture of high and low islands.  Mangareva is a high island with its highest peak of just under 1500 feet to be found on Mount Duff.  The other main high island is Taravai, which is next to Mangareva.


An introduction to the different islands
Mangareva

Mangareva

If you can afford the time and you would like to enjoy a life that most French Polynesians have never experienced then a visit to Mangareva is a must.

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