I’ve already given a detailed report about my trip to Easter Island shortly after returning in 2012. In retrospect, I didn’t go into much detail about what I considered to be the absolute must do’s while you are there.
Today, I will attempt to rectify that oversight because if you are like me, you want to make the most of your precious time on the most remote island on earth.
First things first, you would do well to hire a Guided Tour Company. You will never be able to find out the history of this magnificent island on your own. There is so much to learn and see that will require the expertise of someone who lives there and has intimate knowledge of it.
Typically, in an effort to save money, I am the one who loves to strike out on my own to see everything. This is not the time nor place to do that. You will miss out on so much if you don’t leave this experience up to the experts.
We were fortunate enough to use the very capable services of Rapa Nui Travel, a local tour company who took great pride in giving us the absolute best experience during our time there. I highly recommend them!
1. Check out the Crater Lake at Rapa Nui National Park called Rano Kau
This 1,063 foot tall, natural wonder is actually an extinct volcano and is truly a work of art. The crater was formed by lava rocks that are as old as 210,000 years and contains one of the only three natural bodies of water on Easter Island.
2. Visit the village called Orongo which is located right between Rano Kau and the Pacific Ocean
It was where initiation ceremonies were held, most particularly a competition called the Birdman games which pitted villagers against one another in the quest to determine who would rule the island for one full year. The competition started on the largest of three islets called Motu Nui and the competitors were tasked to bring the first Seagull egg back to Orongo undamaged. This was very dangerous and many fell to their deaths given the topography of the land. The 53 basalt stone structures/houses that you see were built on the site, not to live in, but to sleep in. Houses had a very different utility then than it does today.
3. Check out the world famous Moai in Rapa Nui.
These majestic statues were hand carved by the Rapa Nui people more than nine centuries ago. There are literally hundreds scattered throughout the island; some have deteriorated over time, but many have been restored. The most that we saw in one spot was at Tongariki, there were 15 of them positioned strategically toward the setting sun.
4. Visit the only man-made beach on the Island, Anakena.
This pristine, white sandy beach features a crystal pool with beautiful coconut trees imported from Tahiti. It wasn’t overly crowded when we visited, which was a bonus. Legend has it that it is the landing area of the first settlement party on the island. There are plenty of Food and souvenir vendors in free-standing kiosks and the ubiquitous Moai are close by.
5. Be sure to visit the sole Post Office on Easter Island
Chances are, you’ve already gotten your Official Chilean Stamp when you visited Santiago. However, if you take a walk to the downtown post office, they will stamp a lovely “Isla de Pascua” Easter Island passport stamp for you. It’s free for the asking.
6. Visit the Ana Kai Tangata caves.
There are so many rumors about the caves. The locals call it the “cannibal cave”. It’s not known if the cave has legitimately earned that moniker, but it has stuck. Some think the name originated during the time of the Birdman games; supposedly some people were sacrificed in the caves, but again no one really knows for sure. You will see throughout the cave, archaic markings on the wall from centuries past. It’s thought that eventually, the sea will wash it away in due time.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Easter Island yet? If you have, share your thoughts in the comments!