Easter Island, also popularly known as Rapa Nui, is a dream destination for many travelers and the main theme of our article today.

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Moais – Easter Island

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Chile on the go

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Destinations

PUBLISHED

November 8th, 2021

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H ome to secrets, mysteries and unique landscapes, this natural scenery may seem utopian to most. The 163-square-meter island lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. So far-off into the sea it is that the flight from Santiago de Chile takes roughly 5 hours and a half to reach it, and there is no site on Earth as isolated in the ocean as this place is.

Its climate is subtropical and humid throughout the year. From December thru March temperatures vary between 18° and 25°C, and in winter between 14° and 22°C. This island in the Polynesia belongs to Chile, and, temporarily, to those brave adventurers who plan well in advance for this fantastic trip.

Easter Island location – Google Earth

Moais – Easter Island

Hanga Roa, the only town on the island and Rapa Nui´s capital, offers the basic services for a stay. With a great majority of the island´s population living here, Hanga Roa represents a good host for those travelers who land on this spectacular destination. But…Which is its main attraction? Why do so many people set out on such a long trip to visit it?

Beyond the challenge of reaching the island, Rapa Nui is home to an exceptional cultural and architectural wealth that surely makes it worth the journey. The Moais (huge monolithic statues) spread all over the territory are a landmark of the Rapa Nui culture and the mysteries of the island. Still, as well as these giant heads, there are plenty of other stunning attractions that will for sure make your trip unforgettable.

Recommendations by one of its inhabitants

To gain further knowledge on this natural wonder we talked to the spokesperson of the Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community, who manages the Rapa Nui National Park, a reserve that protects and places high value on the archeological, cultural and non-material heritage. During a brief yet emotional conversation, he shared with us details about the way they live, some facts about this World Heritage Site, as well as a few recommendations for travelers to bear in mind while visiting the island.

Initially, he highlights the significance of the very location of Easter Island and its ancestral wealth when it comes to understanding the impact of this island. “Precisely due to its location in the middle of the ocean, it is surprising how our ancestors managed to find it by simply following the stars in the sky. From the moment they set foot and settled down in Rapa Nui they became a civilization with a way of life that was centered in the building of Moais and Ahus (stone pedestals where the Moais stand) related to each of the family hamlets. This way of living has remained in time and today we are the heirs to an exceptional culture in the world that has been in existence for over 1,000 years.”

Besides, he explains that they have always known how to live in harmony with their natural resources. Yet, they point out that over the last few years they have been receiving supplies from the continent. “Living off the land, the sea, and the rain, always taking pleasure in the colors and sceneries of our Rapa Nui”: this is the main advice given by this community.

Anakena

Certainly, one of the most special moments during the interview revolved around life on the island, how they perceive it and wish to show it to the world. “It is a small island where almost 10,000 of us live, out of which at least 50% belong to the Rapa Nui ethnic group, and a great part of the other half of the population are somehow related to this ethnic group. We are like a big family in which we all know each other and interact with each other on a daily basis. A community where we say hello to everybody we walk past in the streets, and where even drivers stop their cars halfway down the road just to greet others”.

“This is a place where people vibrate with music, which, along with the dances, is a fundamental element in our lives. This is a place where the word still has great value, where commitments are fulfilled and where life outdoors and in harmony with nature is central in our life style. We Rapa Nui people are immensely proud of our history, culture and traditions”, finally added the spokesperson of the Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community.

Not only does he offer us a myriad of reasons to go and discover it, but he also invites adventurers to get to know it from a different and unique perspective, that is, understanding and respecting the value it has for its people and the meaning of each site within the island. “We expect the traveler to live experiences, to appreciate our landscapes and to learn about our culture. A more passive tourist who may enjoy their stay and who may calmly and respectfully understand our ancestral, contemporary and current history.”

He also emphasizes that travelers should find out the legal conditions and restrictions in force for visitors in Rapa Nui, such as the Residence Law and the Monuments Law, and hire a local guide as well as book their visits to each site in advance. “They should come and leisurely enjoy our landscapes, nature and each of the experiences they live, while learning about our history and living our culture, always respecting each site, its regulations and of course, the health protocols.”

HakaPei

What to visit while in Easter Island

The Rapa Nui culture is millenary. This civilization originated from a hostile way of living in the middle of the ocean, with migrants coming from eastern Polynesia and settling down on this remote island. The Polynesian customs and traditions were eventually adapted to suit their new home, which in time made them stronger, more resilient and tougher when compared to the peoples from the other Polynesian islands.

Without much technology, but with great intelligence, they managed to develop a system of life that for many years revolved around the building of tens of Ahus and hundreds of Moais, which today are displayed all around the island and which represent the vestiges of an awesome and unique civilization in the world that can only be compared with other civilizations such as the Mayas and The Ancient Egyptians. Are you ready for this adventure?

Moai

Moais: No doubt the main attraction on the island are its magnificent Moais. There is a record of at least 900 of these statues throughout the territory, but the greatest number are based in specific spots like Ahu Tongariki, from where visitors may take in one of the most amazing sunrises on the island. In Ahu Akivi lie the only Moais that face the sea. Ahu Tahai is the closest to the capital, and from here, visitors may witness a stunning sunset. .

Moais

Crater of the Rano Raraku volcano:This was the main quarry for the massive figures that protected the communities. In this site visitors may see many of the sculptures that never made it to their final destination or were abandoned in different building stages.

Crater of the Rano Raraku volcano

Ceremonial village of Orongo:In this place dwelled those who worshipped the Tangata Manu, or Birdman. It is situated to the south of the city where the chief of the island was elected.

Orongo

Beaches:It may not be the main goal of the trip, but if you find yourself in the middle of the ocean, why not take pleasure in these spectacular beaches? The most popular is Anakena, which, according to the local tradition, was the place of arrival for the first settlers. Some other beaches to add to the list are Ahu Nau Nau and Ovahe.

Anakena Beach

For the most adventurous:The island may also be discovered by trekking, or rather by boat or horseback rides. Visitors may also scuba dive in some specific areas. Beyond question, an excellent attraction for those who seek to tour this natural wonder.

Easter Island Trekking

Interesting facts

Area: 163 square kilometers
Population: 7,750 (2017 census)
Official language: Rapa Nui
Denonym: Rapa Nui or Pascuense
Capital: Hanga Roa
Moais: their average weight is roughly 14 tons, the heaviest weighing some 84 tons. The complete name in the local language is Moai Aringa Ora or Te Tupuna (“the living face of the ancestors”)
Title: The Island was declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1995.
Government: Since 1888 Easter Island has belonged to the Valparaíso region, Chile.

Moais

May I visit the whole island?

Just like any home place, the island has certain spaces for visitors, and others that are exclusively for residents. Indeed, within the Rapa Nui National Park there are visiting areas and areas for traditional use. There are 25 visiting areas, out of which 16 are open to visitors, while the rest await authorization.

The areas for traditional use, just as indicated by its name, are spaces to be used by Rapa Nui families, and, in the case a tourist wished to visit one of these, that would have to be in the company of a local. These areas are like our back garden or patio, a recreational place where families gather and live in harmony with nature.