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
Moai - a large stone carved head and body without legs.
Ahu - a sacred site where moai are displayed.
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.
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
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 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 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 - 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 - 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
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