A heady blend of Polynesia and Chile
Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and enticing islands in the world, Easter Island is often high on any traveler’s list of places to see in a lifetime. With its mix of mystical culture, remarkable history and remote location, there is a whole raft of things to do and see while here. You can look at it as a cultural experience, an historic experience, an active experience or simply as a beach break. The main deterrent for most, however, is the difficulty of getting here, but we also think this might be a plus point!
Located approximately 3,700kms to the east of Chile, its theoretical mother country (since colonization in 1888), there is very little that connects the mainland with this ethereal and isolated volcanic rock in the center of the Pacific.
Most of those who take the 6 hour flight from Santiago to Rapa Nui are in search of a glimpse of the iconic “moai” statues that are dotted across the island, but there is plenty more to keep you interested while visiting. In particular, for those of a more active bent, there are volcanoes to climb, inlets to dive and snorkel and sandy beaches to relax on. Please note that, while it is possible to walk the entire circumference of the island it will take in the region of 2 days. With the roads through Rapa Nui National Park being predominantly tracks, the main forms of transport are mountain bikes and horses.
As we are still in the southern hemisphere, the best times of year to come to the island are normally deemed as being from August through until May, with the busiest (and hottest) period being from January to March when the island gets as busy as it can. This being said, while the height of summer can offer temperatures of up to 29 degrees, the climate here is very mild and, as such, it is a destination we would recommend throughout the year as even in the winter the temperature can get as high as 22.
Below we have run through a few of the island’s highlights to get you started.
Hanga Roa – the only town on the island is a pretty modest affair and is host for 95% of the hotels, bars, restaurants and anything else you can think of. With the main season of January and February filling the place to capacity, the rest of the year leaves it as a languid and vaguely interesting backwater….the main highlight being that it has the best sunsets on the island!
PARQUE NACIONAL RAPA NUI
Most of the island has been a national park since 1935 and a permit of U$D60 can be purchased on arrival into the airport or into the park and lasts for up to 5 days. On the whole, plenty of the sights and sounds of the park can be visited under your own steam (be it wheeled or hooved) but we would certainly recommend, initially, using a local guide who will be able to bring the scene alive, and then go off on your own to explore.
Muanga Terevaka volcano – located to the northwest of the island, a hike to the top of this extinct edifice will take around an hour and offers stunning panoramic views over the entire island.
The Peninsula Poike - offers some of the best hiking on the island out to the east and is in close proximity to the infamous row of Moai that look endlessly out to sea at Ahu Tongariki and the fascinating Rano Raku quarry.
Rano Raraku - Have a lesson in history at Rano Raraku, the original stone quarry (the nursery) where the moai were first hewn from the stone. Today it is possible to see the statues at the various stages in their production which is a fascinating and unique experience.
Ahu Tongariki - arguably one of the most famous photos of the moai of Rapa Nui, with 15 intact statues lined up looking out to the oceans.
The Orongo ceremonial village - Located in the south of the island, on the edge of Rano Kau, a lake filled volcanic crater, visiting this partially rebuilt village is a strange glimpse into the past of an island. Focused around a bird cult, the views from atop the cliffs is outstanding as is learning about its bizarre heritage.