Located 1700km from Tahiti, choosing Mangareva as your destination is a guarantee to experience a completely different type of vacation. Beyond the spectacular scenery – five islands and a dozen motu around a fabulous lagoon – you are taken in a spiral where the peaceful way of life is contagious and you are literally enthralled by the incredible heritage of this amazing spot.
The Gambier archipelago is off the beaten track. Travelers visiting this area will feel privileged as they will be warmly greeted by the friendly local community. The islands are still secluded and offer natural and cultural treasures to be discovered with delight alongside friendly Mangarevan inhabitants. This creates a perfect alchemy, beyond description, of well-being and a unique change of scenery.
Let’s make things clear: the lagoon, hosting the entire archipelago, is probably the most beautiful of Tahiti and her Islands. Both transparent and sandy, turquoise and dotted with coral heads, it displays a range of blues marvelously contrasting with the surrounding lush green mountains. Hiking is a favorite making the most of this unique scenery.
A different architectural heritage exists including the largest cathedral of French Polynesia. Although Mangareva hosts some pre-European remnants of marae and other cultural witnesses of the past, Mangareva is renowned for its fascinating religious 19th century heritage. One says that faith can move mountains. In Gambier, it moved tons of corals! As the cradle of the Catholic religion, the missionaries and the recently converted islanders, built hundreds of religious buildings between 1840-70: churches, presbyteries, convents, schools, observation towers. They can still be visited in Rikitea, ‘Akamaru, ‘Aukena and Taravai. Some of them are remarkably preserved while others are ruins… The largest and oldest monument of French Polynesia proudly stands in Rikitea. Cathedral Saint Michel (1848) has been recently renovated. Its construction sounds like a miracle… it was entirely hand made out of coral (carved and rubble stones) and wood. The interior is decorated with wood works and the altar is finely inlayed with mother of pearl seashells. The quality of artwork is remarkable, let alone the efforts and courage of these builders at the edge of the world (priests, brothers and the local population) to achieve this feat while facing the many technical difficulties at the time...