So You Want To Visit Easter Island?
Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, has to be among the most beautiful places in the world. It is also among the most isolated; though the island is technically a part of Chile, it is more than 2,000 miles from the mainland in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Its nearest neighbor, Pitcairn Island, is almost 1,300 miles to the west of Rapa Nui and has less than 100 residents. Easter Island is only accessible by sea, though it is rare that a boat makes port there, or by the weekly airline flights to Tahiti and Chile.
Why would anyone go out of their way to travel to this remote island? There are many more accessible Polynesian islands that are just as beautiful, but thousands of tourists visit Easter Island every single year.
One of the main draws are the famous moai. Roughly half the island is part of a World Heritage site known as Rapa Nui National Park, and this is where most of the moai are located. These huge stone statues are all that is left of the grand culture of the island’s original Polynesian settlers. Many are more than 800 years old. The largest weighs more than 86 tons. The moai rest on equally large ceremonial stone bases known as ahu. How the statues were erected remains a mystery. These enigmatic sculptures have been bringing the curious to Easter Island since it was discovered in 1722.
There is much more to this island than the moai, however. Adventure seekers come in droves to test their surfing mettle against the powerful pacific waves or to scuba dive near Motu Nui and Motu Iti. Snorkeling is another popular activity. Climbing enthusiasts make their way to Easter Island for two reasons: to climb the craters of Rano Raraku and Rano Kau, and to explore the extensive system of caves that crisscross the island, especially near Ana Kakenga.
Even tourists with no desire to climb the volcanoes like to visit them. The moai were carved at Rano Raraku and visitors can still visit the quarry and see statues in various stages of completion. Both volcanoes have a rather unearthly appearance.For those who are looking for a much calmer and traditional sort of vacation, Easter Island still offers a world of possibilities. The resorts on the island are just as good as those one can find anywhere else in the world, but they and the island are much less crowded than some of the larger and more easily reached Polynesian islands. This makes the island very popular with honeymooners and others looking to escape the crowds.
Horesback riding is also very popular with visitors. In addition, Easter Island has two white sand beaches, one of which is isolated and difficult to get to, which means it is often deserted and waiting on an adventurous soul who dares to make the climb down from the cliffs above.
The main shopping center of the island is in the town of Hanga Roa. Almost all the shops are located in this town, as is the island’s incredible open market. Easter Island boasts about two dozen restaurants, quite a number for such a small island, and many of them feature truly great cuisine inspired by local and Chilean traditions. The island even has its own drink, a fermented grape beverage known as pisco.
Easter Island has a lot to offer any traveler. Its isolation and breathtaking beauty, combined with world-class resorts, plenty of activities, and a history unique among all the nations of the world, make it the perfect destination for anyone who wants to visit Polynesia while avoiding the crowds.