Full of mystery and with many people only knowing that Easter Island has some large head statues on it, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions and clear up some traveler doubts. Although these enigmatic Moai statues are the main highlight of visiting Easter Island, this small, raw patch of land surrounded by thousands of miles of nothingness is a magical destination that never fails to amaze.
♦ Where is Easter Island?
Once known as ‘Tepito Ote Henua’ meaning the ‘center of the world’; Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island on the planet. At just 64 sq. miles this tiny speck in the giant Pacific Ocean, is smaller than the Federal District of Washington and is located 2,300 miles west of mainland Chile and 1,100 miles from the nearest neighboring island. With its Polynesian society and culture blossoming, Easter Island which is also known as Rapa Nui is in fact a department with the Chilean province of Valparaiso and in 1995, the Island which is a National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
♦ Traveling to Easter Island
The Mataveri International Airport is the principal airport for Easter Island with flights solely operated by LAN Airlines to and from Chile’s capital city of Santiago de Chile. Flights leave Santiago 6 days a week with up to 3 flights a day meaning that in spite of its remote location and aside from traveling on a Tuesday which is the only day without flights, Easter Island is extremely accessible. The flight from Santiago to Easter Island is between 5hours 40mins and 6hours which gives you an idea of just how far it is to Rapa Nui. With no flights on Tuesday from Santiago de Chile this gives you the perfect opportunity to explore Chile’s capital city the day before you depart so that you can arrive in Easter Island relaxed and ready to explore.
♦ The best time to go to Rapa Nui
With a subtropical climate, Rapa Nui’s weather is strongly influenced by the ocean currents and winds. The hottest months to travel are January and February which is also when the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival takes place. An annual 2 week festival usually beginning the last week of January or the first week of February*, you’ll find a lively and unforgettable festival with traditional music, dance, feasts, fireworks and more to enjoy.
Going to the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival is without a doubt one of the best ways to experience the Polynesian culture in an authentic way.
Easter Island has its coolest period of weather during July and August but it can seem chillier when the island receives some Antarctic winds and rain. Easter Island is perfect to visit year round whether visiting it during the summer and enjoying its beaches or in the winter which although it may be chilly, it’s the ideal time for hiking. Traveling to Easter Island is a great way to get away from it all and aside from the peak seasons of January to March, you may at times feel like you have the whole island to yourself!
*The next Tapati Rapa Nui Festival on Easter Island will take place from Friday 27th January to Sunday 12th February 2017.
♦ How to tell your Moais from your Ahus
The ‘Moai’ are the large iconic statues that were built to honor the chieftains or other important people that passed away on the island. Constructed from volcanic rock between 1100AD and 1500AD, there are thought to be more than 900 of these statues around the island ranging in size from 6ft. up to a dominating 65ft. tall! There is a lot of mystery surrounding the Moai Statues with their significance and movement to this day remaining unresolved, only adding to the intrigue of Easter Island. An ‘Ahu’ is a ceremonial platform which some of the Moai are placed upon and there are more than 300 on the island. These rectangular stone platforms that are on average about 4ft. high are believed to house the tombs of the people that each Moai statue represents.
♦ The top things to do on Easter Island
It goes without saying that one of the main highlights of Easter Island is seeing the famous Moai statues. One of the most impressive and certainly unique sights is coming across the different statues that are scattered across the island, from the 15 strong statues that remain standing at Ahu Tongariki to coming across these large statues while hiking in Easter Island.
You’d be wrong in thinking that Easter Island is just about seeing the Moai statues, as this Polynesian Island has so much more to offer.
From white sandy beaches with azure water and palm trees to exploring the tropical, underwater world while snorkeling; the natural beauty of Easter Island is simply staggering. Towards the end of each day and with no other landmass visible from Easter Island, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets with the best place to do so at Ahu Tahai. Once the sun goes down and on a clear night, especially when there is a full moon, head to the Rano Kau Volcano for some of the best star-gazing opportunities.