• Gambier islands, French Polynesia
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Discover the Gambier Islands, France in Polynesia

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Travel guide

Daring travellers who travel to the Gambier Islands can boast that they have been to the other end of the world! The Polynesian archipelago is the farthest French territory from mainland France. This small paradise in the Pacific Ocean is located 9,338 miles away from the UK. It would be a lie to say that there are a lot of things to do in the Gambier Islands. However, those who come all the way here do so to get away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities back home. Here, you can take the time to relax, observe, take in the scents and meet the locals. Diving enthusiasts can enjoy the blue waters of a magnificent lagoon, while others can bask in the sun on white sandy beaches shaded by beautiful rows of coconut trees.

Our Editorial team's advice

Hiking is the best way to reach the ancient places of worship in the dense forests of the remote valleys and mountains. You can also visit certain valleys with dense vegetation in a 4x4. Do not, however, forget your mosquito repellent!

pros

  • +The mild climate throughout the year.
  • +The well-preserved environment far from the hustle and bustle of typical tourist areas.
  • +

cons

  • -The remoteness and even the isolation of certain islands.

Food

Goat, pork, crab, lobster and fish are all found in the classic dishes from the Gambier Islands. Raw fish marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk is a well-known Polynesian speciality. The traditional meal is shared around and consists of freshly prepared dishes that are eaten with the fingers. On Sundays and holidays, a special dish called tamaraa is prepared throughout Polynesia. This is made by digging a hole in the sand, which serves as the oven (ahimaa). The hole is filled with stones and branches, which are then lit. The ingredients are placed on green wooden grills and covered with banana leaves, cloth and sand. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to steam the ingredients. Suckling pig, chicken, fish, fafa (taro leaves), uru (jackfruit juice), fei (red bananas) and poe (a papaya-based dessert cooked with coconut milk) are very popular dishes. You will also find raw fish and goat with coconut milk.

Souvenirs

People do not visit the Gambier Islands to go shopping. In any case, shops are few and far between. The only things you can buy to take back home are beautiful local handicrafts. Statuettes of tiki gods and warriors, which are carved out of wood, are directly inspired by Polynesian art. The best souvenirs are: mother of pearl ornaments and jewellery, seashell necklaces, which reflect the Polynesian tradition of hospitality, seashells for collecting (from the most common to the rarest), monoi-based oils and cosmetics, the famous woven hats made with coconut or pandanus leaves and pareus (rectangular pieces of fabric printed with traditional patterns, which woman wrap around themselves in many different ways). You can also bring back some vanilla with you (which costs around £1 per pod). Finally, if you are unable to resist a black pearl, whether it has been made into a piece of jewellery or not, there is something to suit every budget, and in the Gambier Islands, the value for money is unbeatable. Seek the advice of a specialist to help you make your choice. For a 'good deal', look at B or C grade round pearls (which start at £110). A lower grade pearl costs around £17. There are few shops in the Gambier Islands, except in the hotels, but the archipelago is one of the main producers of the black pearl, which can be bought cheaply direct from the manufacturers.

Gambier islands : Discover our cities