A coastline that seemed to go on forever! I guess I was on an island in the South Pacific afterall! Easter Island to be precise, one of the most remotely inhabited places on earth, approximately 2,000 miles from Tahiti and 3,500km from mainland Chile. 24km long and 12km at its widest point, Easter Island is a world heritage site.
I wanted to stop and breathe in the fresh air as I remained mesmerised by my surroundings but something made me keep walking as if there were more secrets waiting to be shared. And then I saw him, Ahu Ko te Riku, one of the biggest moai on the island, noticeable by his red hat and white eyes. Impressed, most definitely! And this was only my first day.
Easter Island, referred to by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui by locals, is one of the most unique places I have visited, full of myths and controversy around the origins of the Easter Islanders. It is hard to work out exactly what happened on the island but it has been suggested that a growing population put strain on the island’s ecosystem resulting in civil wars and cannibalism as well as colonial massacres and the spread of foreign diseases, destroying near all that lived there, leaving behind these amazing giant stone monoliths, called moai, scattered around the coastline.
Exploring the island was truly amazing with its beautiful beaches, archaeological sites, lava formations and volcanic craters. With only two main roads, the best way to explore and get to the far side of the island is to hire a 4×4. Sharing the costs with friends I met at the hostel, we set off and proceeded to be amazed at each turn. We drove around the island for about eight hours, stopping at wonderful sites and allowing ourselves ample time to take photos, explore and have a leisurely lunch.
The sheer presence of these gigantic statues could be felt everywhere we went and it was hard to pick a favourite site that stood out from the rest, but a small part of me favoured the Volcano Rano Raraku, nicknamed the ‘quarry’ or the ‘nursery’. This is where it is believed the statues were built and you can still see quite a few in different stages of development. The best part of this site was walking into the volcano to see the many undisturbed statues hidden amongst yellow flowers.
My five days on the island went super fast as each day saw me talking to the friendly locals and gazing at another statue with the same amazement as my first day, in awe of how they moved such massive rocks to the different parts of the island. I left this spiritual island feeling relaxed and content in knowing that I was privileged to travel to a place still surrounded in mystery.
Easter Island to do list
– Watch a sunset at Orango village, a ceremonial village on top of the Rano Kau crater wall with a vertical drop to the sea. At the most south-western point it has the best sunset view over the ocean.
– Go stargazing at Poike, one of the main extinct volcanoes and on the opposite end to Orango. As there is no light pollution, the stars are more intense.
– Tapati festival, a two week festival in the summer, is a carnival filled with lots of activities and sporting events as well as celebrations of Rapa Nui heritage with feasts, music, dance and fireworks.
Easter Island facts
– Easter Island is governed by Chile, but only Rapu Nui may own land.
– Spanish and Rapa Nui are the official languages, although Rapa Nui is a dying language generally spoken by adults as the children grow up speaking Spanish at home and school.
– LanChile is the only airline that flies to Easter Island, either from Santiago, Chile or Papeete,Tahiti.
– Renting a car for the day costs about $50 US.