The Gambier Islands are nearly 1,000 miles southeast of Tahiti. According to Polynesian mythology, Mangareva, the principal island, was raised from the bottom of the ocean by the demi-god Maui. The heart of the catholic religion in French Polynesia, the Gambier Islands have a unique religious heritage. The inhabitants have conserved a traditional lifestyle and earn their living mostly from the cultivation of pearls and fishing.

Why choose the Gambier Islands?

Mangareva © Philippe Bacchet

Mangareva

The principal attractions for visitors to the Gambier Islands are the many pearl farms and the surprising number of churches which date from missionary times. Although there are marae and other remains of the ancient Polynesian civilization in Mangareva, the island is better known for its religious heritage, which dates from the 19th century. They say that faith can move mountains, but in Mangareva it had to shift tons and tons of coral in order to build all the religious constructions. Between 1840 and 1970, the missionaries, assisted by the recently converted islanders, built hundreds of religious edifices, including churches, rectories, convents, schools and watchtowers. Most of them can still be visited on the islands of Mangareva, Akamaru, Aukena and Taravai. Some of them are extremely well conserved, especially Saint Michel’s Cathedral in Rikitea. Built from blocks of coral in 1848, it is the biggest and oldest religious monument in The Islands of Tahiti, and boasts a magnificent altar incrusted with pearls and mother of pearl nacre.

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Not to be missed

What to do in the Gambier Islands

The Gambier Islands are completely different from the rest of French Polynesia, particularly becuase of the incredible number of religious monuments, which bear witness to the arrival of catholicism in French Polynesia. The most important of these is Saint Michel’s Cathedral in the main village of Rikitea on the island of Mangareva.

An Unforgettable Voyage to the Gambier Islands
Taravai in the Gambier Islands © Philippe Bacchet
Un moment hors du temps à Mangareva ©Frédéric Cristol

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Activities in the Gambier Islands

The lagoon shared by all the islands in the archipelago is probably the most beautiful in French Polynesia. A transparent, turquoise and blue sea, peppered with coral outcrops, contrasts with the lush green mountains on the islands. Hiking is the ideal way to appreciate the magnificent views over this unique scenery.

Cultural Traditions of the Gambier Islands
Gambier Islands beach © Gregoire Le Bacon
Notre Dame de la Paix church in Akamaru © Philippe Bacchet
Akamaru aux Îles Gambier © Tim McKenna

The most beautiful sites in the Gambier Islands

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.

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Transport

Getting there and getting around

Air Tahiti flies to the Gambier Islands twice a week. The flight takes 3 hours 40 minutes and arrives on a motu, 40 minutes by boat from the main village of Rikitea. There is also a passenger carrying cargo vessel which visits the Gambier Islands each month.

Getting to and around Mangareva
Totegegie in the Gambier Islands © Philippe Bacchet
Aukena island in the Gambier Islands © Tim McKenna

Be inspired

Experiences

Visitors to the Gambier Islands are struck by the warmth and hospitality of the islanders. These isolated islands are filled with natural and cultural treasures and the local population will be delighted to share them with you. It is a land where time goes by at a slower pace and the essential things in life are accorded their true value.

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More experiences

Vacation packages

Book your trip

Take a look at our selection of vacation offers. Discover French Polynesia, its inhabitants and their unique and enviable way of life. And explore the natural untamed beauty of these idyllic islands.

All the holiday packages
All the holiday packages
Vue aérienne sur l'atoll de Tetiaroa © Tahiti Tourisme

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