After cruising from Amanu, our last beautiful Tuamotu Island, National Geographic Resolution set sail to a new archipelago, the Gambier Islands.

The Gambier Islands are in French Polynesia, located at the southeast terminus of the Tuamotu archipelago. The islands cover an area of 27.8 sq kilometers or 10.7 sq miles. They are made up of the Mangareva Islands, a group of high islands that are remnants of a caldera, along with islets on the surrounding fringing reef and the uninhabited Temoe atoll. The Gambiers are generally considered a separate island group from Tuamotu both because their culture and language (Mangarevan) are much more closely related to those of the Marquesas Islands, and because, while the Tuamotus comprise several chains of coral atolls, the Mangareva Islands are of volcanic origin with central high islands.

After a delicious barbecue lunch, we took a nice Zodiac ride to Mangareva. We were welcomed with beautiful flowers, dances, and local food that ranged from banana pancakes to taro to coconut bread. We had the chance to shop for beautiful crafts made with local pearls. What a treat! But that was not all! We also had two activities to choose from: a cultural walk through town or the “Stairmaster hike” to Duff Peak, the highest peak on the Island at 1455 feet. It was a great climb up, and we were rewarded by an almost 360-degree view of the whole island, the fringing reef, and the most idyllic turquoise waters I have ever seen.