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Easter Island
Travel Guide


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Easter Island at a glance

Easter Island has mystified explorers, anthropologists, historians and adventurers for centuries. Located an incredible 2,200m away from the South American coast, this Pacific Island technically belongs to Chile, but it bears almost no resemblance in either culture, history or ethnicity to the Latin roots or indigenous heritage of its continental neighbour. Easter Island identifies much more readily with Polynesia, the oceanic region between the edge of the Americas and the next continental landmasses of Australia and Asia. Easter Island’s closest inhabited neighbour is the island of Pitcairn, which lies 1,300m away. So it is safe to say that Easter Island is a remote, isolated and certainly enigmatic, not least owing to the giant Easter Island Moai, the iconic and mysterious stone heads that have made the island famous the world over. The Moai were sculpted by the native Rapa Nui, the indigenous people after whom the island is also named in their native tongue, over 400 years ago, and visitors come from all corners of the globe to marvel at their scale and imposing stature. They stand guard over the island with an air of seriousness and silence that can be intimidating, but they are a testament to the ingenious nature of this native culture, who arrived on Easter Island around 1200AD and proceeded to cultivate the volcanic land, until the arrival of Europeans in the early 1700’s, which significantly diminished the population. Now there are about 8,000 people living on the island, and are a mix of Polynesian, Spanish and native South American descent. Both Rapa Nui and Spanish are the official languages of Easter Island, but many locals speak English too, given the island’s prominence as a tourist destination.

Our Easter Island Travel Experts Recommend:

  • Moai Statues at Anakena Beach
  • Moai Statues of Ahu Akivi
  • Ceremonial Village at Orongo
  • Easter Island on Horseback
  • Sunset at Ahu Tahai
  • Boat Navigation to Los Motus

Experiences around Easter Island

What not to miss

Easter Island has a wealth of incredible sites to visit. Many visitors to the island will first want to see the Maoi, which are dotted around the island. It is presumed that these statues were being moved to various different points on the island, but were left along the way. The highest concentration of the Moai can be seen at the Rano Raraku quarry, where over half of the total 887 heads sit. The average height of the statues is around 4 meters, and they weigh approximately 14 tonnes each. While they are known as “heads”, many of the figures actually are heads sitting on torsos, with some even kneeling. Although there are no definite answers as to what purpose the Moai served, it is assumed by many that they were tributes to native prophets, ancestors or leaders, but others think that they had a religious or spiritual significance. A line of Moai can be seen at the ahu tongariki, a stone platform on which the Moai are thought to have been sited, but many now lie in disparate destinations across the island. It is impossible to know how these enormous, weighty stone carvings were transported across the island, and many different theories abound. Rapa Nui was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and and much of the island lies within the protected Rapa Nui National Park. Because the Maoi are carved out of volcanic rock they are subject to erosion, and it is an ongoing effort to preserve them. The locals often put on performances of local dances and customs for tourists, but it is easy to strike up conversation with island-dweller outside of one of these shows to get a better insight into real life on the island.

Moai Statues at Anakena Beach

This fantastic excursion offers total immersion into the beautiful Easter Island landscapes and is a fantastic opportunity to discover more about the Moai community. Driving south from Hanga Roa along the coastal road of stunning views over Poike, an extinct volcano that has left remains of black volcanic rocks along the coastline. Our first stop will be at the ruins of the Vaihu Temple before continuing along the ‘Camino de los Moais’, or the path of the Moais. After a quick stop for lunch we continue driving until we reach Rano Raraku, the iconic site where the giant Moai heads are carved. The mythical site exhibits more then 300 statues in different stages of production and a walk around the crater reveals a small lagoon with more Moai statues in the center. These colossal statues stand in silence but speak volumes about the achievements of their creators. The tour ends in Ovahe, a small bay of pale pink sand with a mysterious cave and the beautiful beach of Anakena, where you will be given the opportunity to take a dip in the warm Pacific waters and soak up the sunshine before ending this days adventure.

Moai Statues of Ahu Akivi

To reach Ahu Akivi you will drive through enchanting hills to the ceremonial site of Tahai before reaching Ana Te Pahu, a cave create by lava flows. After a quick peak at the impressive cave, the tour will proceed to the famous Ahu Akivi, most likely the most photographed site on the island due to its colossal and imposing Moai statues. The tour ends with a visit of the Puna Pay quarry.

Ceremonial Village at Orongo

Ceremonial village Orongo is famous for its ‘birdman’ challenge, whereby contestants strive to obtain the first egg of the season from the offshore islet of Motu Nui. The first to obtain an egg and swim back to shore earns the title of ‘birdman’, a sign of high social status in the Orongo community. You will also discover a series of petroglyphs (rock carvings) of birdmen in surrounding caves, whose origins and meanings will be thoroughly explained by your guide.

Easter Island on Horseback

Enjoy a wonderful horseback ride through spectacular landscapes for a more entertaining and engaging way to visit the beautiful Easter Island. The activity includes pick-up from your hotel, where we will drive to stables for you to meet your horse. During this excursion, you will be accompanied by a local guide and an assistant in charge of the welfare of the horses, providing you with the best safety measures with happy horses that are well taken care of. We ride from Ahu Tahai along the coast path to Ahu Te Peu, to explore a collection of caves at Ana Kakenga and Ana Te Pora. The excursion may also include a visit to the “Maunga Terevaka” Hill, pending time and weather conditions.

Sunset at Ahu Tahai

Watch a spendid island sunset at the Ahu Tahai complex. This ceremonial complex is believed to be one of the oldest sites, dating back to the sixth century and showcases an array of strange Maoi statues. This spot is guaranteed to offer you the best sunset view available at Easter Island, as Tahai is one of the few places where the sun sets behind the massive statues. So grab your camera and get ready to snap some amazing photos of Maoi outlines with a magnificent backdrop of gorgeous sunset colors.

Boat Navigation to Los Motus

This wonderful boat tour features turquoise-colored shallow waters, splendid scenery and a closer look at modern Maoi indigenous communities. We offer a lovely excursion boarding at Hanga Roa and following the coastline past the area of Tahai and the caves of Mataveri (that are only visible from the ocean), as well as a collection of islets around Motu including Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao. From the boat, we will gaze upon the spectacular cliffs of Orongo, formerly the starting point of the great ‘birdman’ contest, where contestants would climb down and swim to Motu Nui, awaiting the migratory seabirds so that they could steal their first egg. The first to obtain an egg and swim back to shore earns the title of ‘birdman’, a sign of high social status in the Orongo community. If time permits, you will will be given the opportunity to marvel at the colorful marine wildlife, that live in abundance around Motu.

Fast Facts on Easter Island

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Easter Island.

When to go

Easter Island’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means that is enjoys high temperatures all year round. Even in the winter months from June to September, temperatures rarely dip below 57ºF (14ºC) at night, and during the day they average around 72ºF (22ºC), so the island is still tropical and pleasant to visit in winter. This is also the quieter tourist season, so it is best to go during this time if you don’t want to share the island with hordes of other travelers. During the summer months between December and March, it can get very hot and humid, making enjoying the island difficult for some, as much of the sightseeing is to be done outdoors. However, it is perfect for soaking up the sun, but make sure you wear sunscreen. The busiest times are in January and February because of two unmissable festivals; the celebration of the Tapati Rapa Nui during the first two weeks of February, and the sunrise in Ahu Tongariki between December 21st and March 21st. If you want to visit during these times, please let us know well in advance, as accommodation on the island books up fast.

How to get there

Luckily for travelers visiting the island, getting to Rapa Nui is far easier today than it was when the Polynesian people first reached it centuries ago. Easter Island’s tiny Mataveri International Airport receives flights from Santiago and Tahiti. Once on the island, the best way to get around is by hiring a car, motorbike or mountain bike, given that the main highlights are scattered all over the island. No doubt you will also cover much of the island’s territory on foot, but be advised that it is easy to get lost, so keep some landmarks close to where you are staying in mind should you need to ask for directions.

Infrastructure

Easter Island has plenty of accommodation for every taste, whether you are looking for a beachside cabin or a comfortable hotel. The island is limited in what it can provide for tourists because of its isolation, so increased numbers of tourists in recent years has stretched it to its limit, so it is advisable to book accommodation well in advance. In terms of food, the variety of seafood on offer on Easter Island is quite spectacular, and you will be spoilt for choice. Fish is normally accompanied with tubers like sweet potatoes or plantain, and one of the most fascinating traditional cooking methods is to cook food, that is layered between plantain leaves covered in hot coals, in a hole in the ground. This meal serves the whole community and is called curanto.

Tour Packages connections with Easter Island

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