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Planning your trip to Easter Island

Published July 04, 2017 by Nick Dall

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) with its mysterious moai, is one of the most remote and enigmatic places on the planet. Read on to find out how to plan the trip of a lifetime. Why visit? The island is scattered with more than 900 moai – the world-famous stone statues which measure between 4 and 32 feet in height and can attain weights of 32 tons. The moai and the ahu (platforms) they stand on don’t just look cool staring into the deep blue yonder, they also pose myriad questions about the mysterious civilisation that built them. Another archaeological highlight is the ruins of Orongo where the famed birdman cult took place. Rapa Nui is also famed for its natural beauty. You can hike, bike or horse-back ride to the summits of Rano Kau and Rano Raraku and marvel at the crater lakes below them. Walk along the sandy beach at Anakena and snorkel, scuba dive or surf in the pristine Pacific Ocean. Do be aware, though, that water temperatures hover around the 70F mark, so this is not a beach destination in the conventional sense of the word! Simply being on an island that is so tiny and so isolated is an experience in itself. Hanga Roa, the island’s only proper town, is a fascinating place to explore. We can also highly-recommend attending a traditional culture evening: it’s amazing to witness how the Rapa Nui culture has survived pretty well undiluted into the 21st century. Hotels Tourism is the island’s main source of revenue, but things on Rapa Nui are still pretty low-key and the largest hotel we work with has 30 rooms. While our hotels range in terms of price and comfort all offer an unbridled sense of evocative seclusion. Find out more about our Easter Island hotels here. When to visit Easter Island is a year-round destination with highs in the 70s and 80s throughout the year. The rainy season falls between June and August but is characterised by short tropical showers which don’t get in the way of having a good time. For an unforgettable experience plan to visit during the annual Tapati festival (a celebration of Rapa Nui culture in late Jan / early Feb). Just be warned: you’ll have to book well in advance for this and plane tickets are more expensive too. Practicalities Rapa Nui is serviced by nine weekly flights from Santiago (a 6-hour journey) making it an easy add-on to any Chilean itinerary. You can also fly there from Tahiti (one flight per week, five hours). Rapa Nui is a special territory of Chile with its own time zone two hours behind the rest of the country. The official currency is the Chilean Peso but many tourist establishments also accept US Dollars. We recommend spending at least three nights on the island to justify the effort in getting there. Watch the video

 

Dinner party facts

  • The Rapa Nui landmass is formed around three extinct, coalesced volcanoes. It’s about 15 miles long and 7 miles wide at its widest point.
  • The island has three freshwater lakes near the summit of Terevaka but no permanent streams or rivers.
  • Rapa Nui is located 2,200 miles from the Chilean mainland and 1,300 miles from the nearest populated landmass (Pitcairn Island, population 50).
  • The island’s Mataveri International Airport is officially the world’s most remote airport.
  • As of 2012 Rapa Nui had around 5,800 inhabitants (up from 3,800 in 2002) of which about 60% were of indigenous Rapa Nui origin.

Further reading An introduction to Easter Island Easter Island: separating fact from fiction Walking statues on Easter Island History of Easter Island: What's in a name? What are you waiting for? The number of weekly flights to Easter Island has been increasing gradually so the time to visit is now. We only have this Easter Island itinerary on our website but our Destination Experts can add Rapa Nui onto all our existing South America itineraries or even create an entirely new itinerary just for you. Photos courtesy ADS Mundo and Explora Hotel Group.