Easter Island is one of the most isolated known islands on our planet. Ancient settlers called the island The Navel of the World (“Te Pito O Te Henua” ). It is a Chile territory that lies far off in the Pacific Ocean, about halfway to Tahiti. Known as one of the most sacred sites on Earth, it is most popular for its mysterious giant stone statues or moai whose large heads, carved ages ago, reflect the history of the pivotal rise and fall of the most remote and secluded Polynesian culture.
Although Easter Island in the present day is world-famous and travelers are rising exponentially, everything remains personable and small – it’s all about eco-travel.
Top Attractions in Easter Island
Orongo Ceremonial Village
Nearly concealed in a bog of drifting totora reeds, the crater lake of Rano Kau mirrors a giant witch’s cauldron and is a large greenhouse of native biodiversity. Located 300m above, on the side of the crater wall on one side and adjoining a vertical drop plunging to the cobalt-blue sea on the other side, Orongo Ceremonial Village presents one of the South Pacific’s most exciting landscapes. It overlooks numerous small motu (offshore islands), including Motu Iti, Motu Nui, and Motu Kao Kao. If you are hiking it, it is a rather steepish yet exciting climb. However, if you want to drive to your destination, it is incredibly scenic and unforgettable.
Known as ‘the nursery,’ the Rano Raraku volcano, around 18km from Hanga Roa, is the excavation for the hard tuff from which the moai were split. You’ll feel as though you’re walking back into early Polynesian times, wandering amongst dozens of moai in all degrees of progress dancing on the southern slopes of the volcano. At the summit, the 360-degree view is genuinely excellent. Within the crater are a small, glistening lake and around 20 standing moai.
Parque Nacional Rapa Nui
The enormous majority of Rapa Nui falls within the limits of this national park. Think of it as an open-air museum with magical archaeological sites and spectacular hikes through barren volcanic cones. Spending some cash on a locally guided tour or on an elderly islander who can interpret what you are seeing is a decent investment.
Beach lovers in search of a site to immerse in will love this picture-perfect, white-sand beach. It also presents an engaging backdrop for Ahu Nau Nau, spanning seven moai, a few with topknots. On the south of the beach stands Ahu Ature Huki and its solitary moai, re-erected by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl with the help of natives in 1956 CE.
Top Things to do in Easter Island
- Chill on the Beach: Easter Island has two white-sand beaches. Anakena, on the north end of the island, is an excellent shorebreak bodysurfing site with a bit of north swell. The second beach is a beautiful gem called Ovahe. Located along the island’s southern coast near Ahu Vaihu, this desolate and beautiful beach is much larger than that at Anakena and is encompassed by beautiful cliffs.
- Water Sports: Scuba diving and snorkeling are prevalent near the islets Motu Iti (well known for “the birdman culture”) and Motu Nui, located nearly 1 km south of the island.
- Exploring Caves: An overlooked but unusually fascinating and “otherwordly” feature of Easter Island is its vast cave systems. While there are two “official” caves that are pretty interesting in their own right, there is also authentic adventure to be had in traversing all of the many unofficial caves on the island, most of which are located near Ana Kakenga.
What to eat in Easter Islands?
Around 25 restaurants cater to tourists on Easter island. Some of them can be seen close to the waterfront in Hanga Roa, with a few others disseminated in the neighboring areas. Menus are limited, as most of the food is imported. The range of fish, though, is noteworthy – as is true for most of Chile and South America. There are also some “supermarkets” where visitors can pick up limited sundries, snacks, booze, etc.