At more than 1,600 kilometers from Tahiti, the Gambier Islands are a unique destination in The Islands of Tahiti. Far off the beaten track, these volcanic islands all share the same magnificent lagoon. Idyllic motu and some of the most beautiful churches in French Polynesia are just some of the sites to see.

Le mont Duff de Mangareva ©_Frédéric Cristol


The view from Mount Duff

It takes a bit of effort to get to the top of Mount Duff in Mangareva, and you even need the help of guide ropes in places. But when you reach the 441 meter summit, the views over the lagoon and all the other Gambier Islands is more than a just reward. Mount Duff, called Auorotini in Mangarevan, is part of The Mangareva Pearl Trail annual road and trail race.


Cathedral Saint-Michel in Rikitea © Philippe Bacchet


Saint Michel’s Cathedral in Rikitea, a sacred jewel

Built of coral stone in the 1840s, Saint Michel’s Cathedral in Rikitea is an impressive building for such a small village in French Polynesia. You can see its whitewashed walls, and two tall bell-towers from a distance. Once inside, you can admire the row of ochre colored columns and above all, the superb mother of pearl marquetry on the altar and pulpit. During your stay in a Tahitian Guesthouse in Rikitea you’ll get a true appreciation of the way of life of the Gambier islanders.


The 10 most beautiful spots in the Gambier Islands © Frédéric Cristol


Saint Gabriel Church in Taravai

Saint Gabriel Church was built in 1868 by Mangarevan islanders, under the direction of the Picpus missionary fathers. The interior of this recently renovated blue and white Gothic monument is truly magnificent. St Gabriel Church is an important part of the cultural heritage of French Polynesia.

Notre Dame de la Paix church in Akamaru © Philippe Bacchet


Notre Dame de la Paix Church in Akamaru

Built in 1844, Akamaru’s Notre-Dame de la Paix church is made of lime-coated coral. Its distinctive feature is its two asymmetrical bell towers, built under the direction of Father Laval, who wished to recall the architecture of the French cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres. Every year, a pilgrimage takes the Virgin Mary, wearing a necklace of Tahitian pearls, to the cathedral of Saint-Michel de Rikitea at the end of July and brings her back to the church of Akamaru on August 15.

View of the lagoon at Mangareva ©gregoirelebacon


Mekiro, a sight to behold

Mekiro is a small, hilly islet right next to Akamaru. A hike to the highest point is rewarded with absolutely stunning views over the lagoon. When the sea is calm, you can even observe coral outcrops in the waters below. There is also a pretty little beach with coconut palms which is just perfect for a picnic.

Mangareva landscape c gregoirelebacon


Isolated Kamaka islet,

The tiny island of Kamaka is in the south of the lagoon. It is a veritable haven of peace, in an archipelago where peace and tranquility alreay reign. Kamaka has only one inhabitant today, and you’re sure to bump into him as the island is only 1 km². A beautiful spot that will bring out the Robinson Crusoe in you.

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