The archipelago of French Polynesia covers thousands of miles of ocean, and we spent five months slowing exploring from the southeastern corner to the western islands. We started in the scenic, relaxed Gambier islands, off the beaten track but with their own friendly charm. We met the delightful Herve and Valerie who invited us to a cruiser’s potluck in their beachfront garden every Sunday afternoon, and we celebrated Mother’s Day and my birthday with them and fellow cruising friends. We explored the ring of outer islets and cays, and enjoyed the healthy reef system and swam with large schools of fish and curious reef shark. The Gambier Islands is like taking a small sample of the other four groups of Soviet Islands and combining them in one small island group. Well worth the miles to get there, this off-track group of islands is far enough off the regular milk run where the feeling of authenticity and uniqueness still runs strong.