Mangareva, French Polynesia

Apr 06, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Where can we start? This was an incredible day. We started with our ship National Geographic Orion sailing into the lagoon at sunrise. We all enjoyed the sailing and the crystal clear tranquil waters protected by the outer reef.

We visited the main town of Rikitea. When we got ashore in our Zodiacs a group of locals where waiting for us with music and dancing. While the drums were making their fast rhythmic sounds, we were given flower leis as a welcome.

“Iaorana!” They said as we were given hugs and flowers. We started by walking into the central part of town, where our local guides showed us the magnificent restored St. Michael’s Cathedral. Built with shaped coral stone blocks and with beautiful mother-of-pearl inlays in the main altar and the wings, this incredible building was part of the 116 stone buildings, arches, and roads that Father Laval’s mission built in the mid-19th Century. Many of the vestiges of the old city were still visible around the Cathedral site.

While we visited the village, some of our guests and naturalists hiked to the top of Mount Duff, the highest point of these islands with an elevation of 1,581 ft. It was a strenuous hike that payed off with a gorgeous view of the lagoon and its motu. Later we visited the ruins of Couvent Rouru, the convent which housed 60 nuns at one time.

During lunch we repositioned our ship and we visited Motu Aukena, where we enjoyed many different activities. We snorkeled between beautiful coral gardens protected by an outer reef. Some guests also enjoyed kayaking in this beautiful protected area, and we also deployed the glass bottom Zodiac with which we were able to explore the submarine wildlife that was beyond this reef.

We sailed away from Mangareva at sunset with a wonderful Polynesian dinner in the open back deck. And we crowned this excellent day with a presentation by our naturalist Tom Ritchie about the superstitions of seamen across our history.  A spectacular day!

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About the Author

Alex Searle


Born in Chile and raised in Argentina, Alex spent his childhood living in different parts of these countries and getting to know the local cultures.

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