Mangareva is the largest of the coral islands in the Gambiers, ringed by smaller islets and atolls like Aukena, Akamaru, and Taravai. The island is marked by a fabulously blue lagoon with crystal clear waters and densely forested volcanic mountains. Most of the islanders live in and around the lovely little village of Rikitea with its fragrant fruit orchards and the oldest cathedral in French Polynesia. The imposing structure of the Cathedral of St Michael dates back to the 1800s. The island is also home to the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Rouru Convent that once housed the island’s nuns. Despite the island’s many pre-colonial archeological sites, it continues to be better known for its 19th century Catholic heritage. Mangareva has much to offer hikers, divers, history buffs and leisure travelers from around the world.
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