An outdoor breakfast buffet, the shining sun, and fresh muffins…it was sure to be a good day here in Mangareva.

We embarked to a warm island welcome. Children and elders came together to give us a remarkable greeting to the village of Rikitea. The welcome consisted of traditional dance and drums in the Mangarevan way. The island is in the Gambier archipelago on the far east of French Polynesia, and the culture has evolved differently from the Tuamotus and Society chains. Traditional dances consist of stomping feet onto the ground and fast-paced drumming.

After the welcome ceremony, the town set up tents for guests to try traditional food and shop for local crafts. Of course, the local crafts consisted mainly of black pearls. This environment is famous for producing the highest quality/quantity of “Tahitian” pearls. Famous for pearls, infamous for wallets.

Guests had time to roam around town or take a hike up to the island’s highest point, Mount Duff. For those who stayed in town, one of the highlights was the Rikitea Cathedral, which seats 1,200 people. It is the largest church in the South Pacific by far.