MANGAREVA (Gambier Islands)
In the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia, Mangareva is the largest island with a population of over 1,200 people. Most live in Rikitea, the largest village on the island. A high central ridge runs the length of Mangareva peaking with Mt. Duff, which rises over 440 meters from the sea on the island's south coast. The island has a large lagoon sprinkled with coral reefs whose tropical fish and the black-lip oysters have helped islanders survive much more successfully than on other nearby islands. Small ships are able to enter the lagoon of Mangareva. Ashore visitors can walk through the town, see the remains of the massive stone and coral buildings dating back to the 19th century or climb up Mt. Duff. The highlights in town include the cathedral with its mother-of-pearl shell altar and objects designed and built in the 1830s and 1840s and partially restored by the students of Rikitea’s school just a few years ago.