3 Must Do Activities and Best Places to Stay in Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui or Easter Island Chile, is probably one of the most remote and enigmatic destinations on the planet. Located over 2,000 miles from the nearest other inhabited land, this island is famous for its giant statues known as “moai.”
Seeing pictures of these statues really can’t do them justice. In person, they tower over you and you begin to feel some of the protective power that these moai had to the indigenous people who constructed them. If you’re looking for an exciting and unique travel destination, Easter Island Chile definitely fits the bill.
One word of caution, don’t expect much of Hispanic culture here as this island’s roots are believed to be Polynesian. Nevertheless, I included this beautiful destination here because it is part of Chile.
About Easter Island
Easter Island’s English name comes from the fact that it was discovered by the Dutch on Easter Sunday, 1722. The indigenous people’s name for their home, however, is Rapa Nui. Although Easter Island is technically part of Chile, its culture and its inhabitants are Polynesian.
While we don’t know all the facts on Easter Island’s settlement, experts believe that Polynesian people arrived here over 1,000 years ago. At that time the island was covered in trees. This is hard to imagine when you see the island today, as there are virtually no trees left to cover the slopes of the three volcanic peaks here.
The tallest objects on the island now are the moai, or giant stone statutes meant to represent ancestral guardians. There are hundreds of these statues on the island, and how ancient people managed to move these enormous statues around the island is one of the fascinating mysteries of Easter Island.
How to Get to Easter Island Chile
Easter Island’s isolation may make it seem like a destination for only the most intrepid travelers. But the truth is, it is actually easier to get to Easter Island than it is to get to some of the more remote regions of mainland Chile.
All you have to do to get to Easter Island Chile is hop on one of the daily 5-hour flights from Santiago. Flights are also available from Tahiti about once a week.
How to Get Around in Easter Island Chile
When exploring Easter Island, your best bet is to rent a car. Jeeps are best for the often bumpy, potholed, or unpaved roads here. Several companies offer rentals in the main town of Hanga Roa, but you will get a better rate if you rent your car straight from a local. If you are staying in a guest house, your host will probably have a jeep for you to rent.
What to Do: 3 Must-Do Activities
See the Moai: The moai, or the famous statues encircling Easter Island, are obviously a must-see. You can basically just drive around the island and see tons of moai, because these archeological treasures are scattered just about everywhere.
Some peek up from the grass near where they were originally carved, and others are still standing on the ceremonial platforms where ancient people placed them. You can also take a guided tour with a local if you want to learn the Easter Island statues facts first hand.
Hike to Ovahe Beach: This gorgeous, secluded beach features a long strip of sand surrounded by stunning cliffs. The best way to get to Ovahe is to hike down a somewhat unstable rocky path. It’s a scramble, but it is worth it to have this little piece of paradise all to yourself.
Surf, Snorkel, or Scuba: Though the moai get all the attention, Easter Island is a great destination for outdoor activities, especially watersports. You can surf at Anakena Beach, or take a guided scuba or snorkel trip to the islets of Motu Nui and Motu Iti.
If you really want to lay on the beach or take a dip visit Anakena Beach, which is the ONLY beach in the island where you can really bathe. This beach is quite different from the rest of the island because of the sand, the palm trees and the moais. The moais are very well preserved and have intricate details. They look inland and appear to protect the beach.
Don’t expect a paved or smooth road to get there even though this is what you are told. The road is like Swiss cheese. At Anakena the locals provide great food for reasonable prices. There are bathrooms for a small fee and 2 parking areas. Don’t miss the cave above the beach. Many times you can see horses there.
Where to Sleep in Easter Island Chile
There are several small Easter Island hotels to stay at, but personally, I prefer to stay at guest houses in a place like Easter Island. You really get a personal experience at a guest house and the hosts are normally very helpful with arranging airport shuttles, jeep rentals, tours, and anything else you might need. Lodging is very affordable on Easter Island, but food will be more expensive because so many items have to be imported from the mainland.
Easter Island Chile Pictures