Trip Report: Chile – Part 5 – Easter Island
Top Tips for Easter Island
- Stay close to town for a more local experience – some of the luxury accommodations on the island are located outside of town in more “remote” areas. It’s better to stay at a hotel that is within walking distance to town where all the shops and restaurants are.
- Dogs are everywhere – truly, everywhere! They are independent and live on the streets together in their own community. They really won’t stop to bother you and go about their own lives.
- Pack sunscreen and a good hat – hopefully you already thought of this, but it’s easy to underestimate how intense the sun gets. The ancient tribes almost deforested the entire island; thus, the regrowing topography is not very dense or tall.
- Rent a vehicle – whether it’s for a day or your entire stay, it’s so much fun to explore the island with your own moped/4-wheeler/car. The roads are well-marked and easy to navigate, plus you never have to pay for parking!
- Try surfing – the culture of the island is very Polynesian and may remind some travelers of Tahiti or Hawaii. A popular past time they share is surfing. There are surf shops where you can rent and take lessons. Ask a local for their recommended surf spots along the coast.
- Get your passport stamped – If you enter Easter Island via Santiago, you’ll already have a Chilean passport stamp. However, if you’re taking a tour around the moai sites on the island, you’ll have an entrance ticket that gets stamped at every site. Ask the attendant to stamp your passport too!
- Bring your appetite – there are many restaurants around the island that vary in price point, but they all serve similar cuisine choices. If you’re a seafood lover, there’s hardly anywhere better to be than in the middle of the ocean! We also recommend stopping by a grocery store to pick up local fruits, honey sticks, sweets and juices.
- Go stargazing – whether on your own or with a guide, the remoteness of Easter Island lends to stargazing opportunities that are hard to beat. Head away from the “big city lights” of Hanga Roa and find a good spot to view the sky.
Our Favorite Spots in Easter Island
- Hanga Roa – this is the main (and only!) town on the island. Most accommodations are found in this area, which hosts the highest concentration of shops, restaurants, tour operators, and other local businesses.
- Orongo – once a ceremonial village for the birdman cult, the remains of tradition are still evident around the rim of the volcano. The volcano now serves as a natural greenhouse full of biodiversity that is only permissible to see from above. Keep your eyes peeled around this area for the ancient birdman petroglyphs.
- Rano Raraku – on the other side of the island is the other dormant volcano, known as the quarry for where the moai were sourced. This is perhaps the most surreal experience on the island as you walk among the moai in various stages of completion and transportation. It’s like being frozen in time!
- Ahu Tongariki – if you’ve seen pictures of the moai before, you’ve likely seen a photo of Tongariki. Here, visitors see 15 imposing moai standing in a row against the backdrop of the ocean. A must-do photo op!
- Ahu Tahai – within walking distance from town, these moai are in weathered shape but create impressive silhouettes against the nightly sunset. This is one of the best places to see the sunset on the island with ample grassy space to sit and soak in the view.
- Tea Moana Sunset – a highly-acclaimed seaside restaurant that specializes in seafood and sunset views. Pricing is higher, but well worth it
- Rapa Nui Museum – this museum is the only place where you can see a fully-figured female moai among other important, well-preserved relics from the ancestors of the island
- Mercado Artesanal – you can find everything you’ve ever wanted to bring home for souvenirs in this convenient marketplace. All the vendors bring their locally made wares that range from the expected to the truly unique.
- Earth’s Belly Button – did you know you could find the epicenter of the world on Easter Island? Not really, but the Navel of the World is a smooth, spherical rock purportedly brought to the island by the first king. It’s said to have spiritual properties, but from a scientific standpoint, it’s the only known rock on the island with magnetic properties.
Where We Stayed
Taha Tai Hotel
- Located right outside of town on the coast. Breakfast views are hard to beat and included for all guests!
- All rooms are WiFi equipped
- Great option for the budget-minded traveler that wants an upgrade from camping or hostel-style accommodations
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