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EASTER ISLAND (Rapa Nui)

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Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island, Chile
13 Foot High Moais at Ahu Tongariki, © Can Stock Photo / steve_t

Easter Island is volcanic in origin and is about 15 miles long.  Its capital is Hanga Roa.  There are 3 freshwater craters on the island but there are no rivers.   It became a territory of Chile in 1888.  Rapa Nui National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing more than 800 stone carvings, called moai.  The carvings are spread over the entire island and some reach a height of 13 feet high, which is hard to perceive in pictures.  They were created by a civilization that probably inhabited the island about 1,000 years ago.  The climate then resulted in a lush, forested landscape.  Climate change, plus the introduction of disease and slave trading by the Europeans after 1722 nearly caused the extinction of the Rapa Nui.  Today Easter Island has a permanent population of about 5,000 people.  The languages spoken are Spanish and Rapa Nui.

Ko Te Riku, Ahu Tahai, Easter Island, Chile

Ko Te Riku, Ahu Tahai

Language:

Moai - a large stone carved head and body without legs.

Ahu - a sacred site where moai are displayed.

Weather:

The climate in Easter Island is fairly constant with average temperatures from 72 - 77 F ( 22 - 25 C) year round, so there is no particular time that is best for a visit.  The months of November - February do have some potential for temperatures to reach the high 80s F (30s C) though.  Precipitation does not vary greatly throughout the year, but is lowest from November - February.

Transportation:

Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the world.  It is located in the southeast Pacific more than 2,000 miles west of mainland Chile.  Mataveri International Airport (IPC) provides access to Tahiti, French Polynesian or Santiago, Chile.  Very few cruise ships visit Easter Island due to its remote location and the constant swell that makes it difficult to tender passengers to shore.  Take That Vacation recommends flying into ensure your visit is not compromised by rough seas.  Most visitors take an organized tour of the island, which can be covered in roughly 2 days, although visitors can cover all the major sites in one day.

Hanga Roa tender harbor, Easter Island, Chile

Hanga Roa tender harbor

Attractions of Easter Island:

Things to see and do:

Many of the major sites on Easter Island are located in Rapa Nui National Park and require a $60 US permit, which is good for multiple days.  Cruise ship tours will include the usage fee and will provide a wrist band for continued use after the excursion.  During our 2016, Take That Vacation found many visitors entered sites without supplying documentation.  Cruise ship excursions can be very expensive and major online vendors often avoid selling cruise ship excursions to the island because of the high risk of cancellation due to sea swell.  For an online local tour, Take That Vacation recommends Marcus Edensky who operates Easter Island Travel.  The main sites to see are Ahu Tahai, Ahu Tongariki, Rano Raraku quarry and Anakena beach, which can be covered in a half day tour.  Round out your visit with a trip to Orongo at the Rano Kau crater and a visit to Ahu Akivi.

Rano Raraku, Easter Island, Chile

Rano Raraku quarry

  • Ahu Tongariki - With 15 moai carvings, this is the largest and most photographed location on Easter Island.  Unfortunately the moai face inland to the north and the faces are shaded most of the day.  The best views are in the early morning or at sunset.  Ahu Tongariki is located on the ocean and is only about a 5 minute drive from the Rano Raraku quarry.  The moai were knocked down by a tsunami and the Thor Heyerdahl expedition righted them again.  The moai are older and worn, unlike the more intact carvings in the Rano Raraku quarry.

Ahu Nau Nau, Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Nau Nau at Anakena Beach

  • Ahu Nau Nau - This site has 7 restored moai placed just inland from the sand at Anakena Beach, plus one on a nearby hill.  Four of the moai have red top knots on their heads.  Legend indicates this is the location where the Polynesians landed and formed the first settlement on Easter Island.  Anakena Beach is located on the opposite side of the island from Hanga Roa.  It takes about 35 minutes to reach Anakena Beach and the main road across the island is paved.  These maoi face inland to the west and are therefore best viewed at sunset.

Ahu Tahai, Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Tahai

  • Ahu Tahai - One of the oldest moai sites, it has five moai together and two nearby.  All are weather worn.  The site was restored in 1974.  One of the moai is referred to as Ko Te Riku and has its eyes distinctively restored.  Ahu Tahi is located about 5 minutes north of the town of Hang Roa.  These maoi face inland to the east and are best viewed at sunrise.

Ahu Akivi, Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Akivi, © Can Stock Photo / steve_t

  • Ahu Akivi - 7 similar moai in a row.  This is one of the few inland ahus.

  • Rano Raraku quarry - this is a highlight of a visit to Easter Island.  Nearly 400 stone moai are found in various stages of carving, strewn about the quarry.  Some moai are partially buried and some are toppled and tilted.  It gives an eerie sensation of ancient cultures rising from the earth.  Rano Raraku is in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park.

Rano Kau crater, Easter Island, Chile

Rano Kau crater, © Can Stock Photo / PeterMarble

  • Visit the three volcanic crater freshwater "lakes" - Rano Aroi, Rano Raraku and Rano Kau.  There are restored stone houses at the village of Orongo at the Rano Kau crater.  This is the site of the birdman legend, where islanders would descend from the crater to the ocean and swim to the nearby small island of Motu Nui to obtain the first bird eggs of the season.  There are petrogylphs at the crater edge.  Orongo is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park.

  • Visit the caves - Ana Kakenga, Ana Te Pahu and Ana o Keke.

Read our blog about our Easter Island Shore Excursion

Hotels on Easter Island:


View Easter Island map


View Easter Island Pics