When you think of Easter Island, what you immediately picture are the statues. And not much else. The enduring image of the place are those broad-faced statues, with no discernible surroundings or sense of what the island truly is. And that’s OK. I think eight out of ten people would have trouble placing Easter Island on a map, let alone attempting to describe the pros and cons of visiting it. We’re here to fix all that, and while we’re at it, show you what an awesome place it is to plan a dream holiday to. Let’s start with the location. Easter Island is in the south-eastern Pacific Ocean, which means it’s pretty much between Australia and South America. Clocking in at just under 6,000 residents, the place is certainly remote. One of the most remote places in the world in fact. And those statues? They’re called moai, and there are 887 of them dotted around the place.
Technically, it’s part of Chile (a special territory), though given that the nearest inhabited land is 1,289 miles away, it pretty much operates on its own rules. It’s the perfect place to escape to if you want to seriously get away from everything and everyone. If you make it down to Easter Island, you’ll feel untouchable. It can be tough to reach, but once you do, it will undoubtedly rank as one of the most memorable places that you’ve ever been. Log on to BUCKiTDREAM to see if you can search out a few more intrepid travelers who’ve ventured to the island, and get inspired by their stories and photos. Remember to log any exciting ones in your BUCKiTDREAM planner, and keep it handy for this guide as we talk you through Easter Island, piece by piece.
Here’s our rundown of the top activities available on the island; remember to keep that planner handy!
Touch Down at the Most Remote Airport on the Planet Unless you’re making the voyage to Easter Island by boat (inadvisable), you’ll land at Mataveri International Airport, where the runway stretches across the entire island. Although this one’s technically involuntary, it’s an experience that’ll stay with you for a long time!
Trek to the Top of Terevaka Easter Island doesn’t have mountains so much as a series of volcanic hills; they’re not too much of a challenge to climb and if you hike to the top of the highest one, Terevaka, you’ll be rewarded with amazing 360-degree panoramic views of the entire island.
Descend into the Crater of the Rano Kau Volcano You don’t just go up the volcanoes; you can go down ’em too. The breathtaking, water-filled crater is your reward for clambering up the dramatic Rano Kau volcano; trust us, it’s worth the hike. Just don’t go ALL the way down…
Speak a Few Words of Rapanui It’s not very often you get to try out a few words of such a rare and archaic language and the locals will appreciate the effort. Be sure to bag yourself a tour guide who can teach you a few basic phrases and regale you with a few tales, as the history of Easter Island’s native tribe is rich and fascinating.
Bike the Island Easter Island is such a small place that a car seems pointless. Much better to hire a bike and get around that way. You can cover the whole place in a day, with plenty of time to spare for sightseeing stops and meals; pedal power is the best way to see the island, for sure.
Catch the World’s Best Sunset The west coast is a great place to catch a sunset, and luckily it’ll work wherever you choose to place yourself. The unimpeded views of a golden sunset will be etched in your memory for ages.
Seek Out Ancient Petroglyphs Easter Island is a place heavily steeped in history, so much so that it’s quite literally written on the walls. You can find examples of rock carvings all over the island and if archeology floats your boat then this is certainly the place for you.
Explore the Lesser-Known Caves You don’t necessarily need a tour guide to do a little exploring; most of the ancient caves on the island are able to be found on foot and there’s even a few that you can enter by yourself. We’re not talking pot-holing here; most of them are easily accessible and a great way to get to know the island intimately.
Dance the Night Away at Vaitemiki The Rapa Nui as a civilization is considered all but extinct, but islanders keep some of their traditions alive, a primary example being the traditional (free) dance shows that take place at Vaitemiki, located in Hanga Roa.
High-end Situated on the coast with amazing views and a local atmosphere, the stunning Explora Rapa Nui is the luxury hotel of choice on the island. Featuring an outdoor pool and saunas, the Explora will also organize trips around the island for you, all-inclusive.
Medium A mere stroll away from the beach lies the O’tai Hotel, providing guests with a tranquil, homely environment, complete with an outdoor pool and garden.
Budget This may be obvious, but there aren’t a lot of B&B or even Airbnb options on the island, so your best bet for a budget stay is camping. Some people might actually prefer this to a hotel, as you’re really taking advantage of the isolated location and calm, natural scenery. Mihinoa is one of the best camping grounds on the island. If you can’t afford a room with a view, simply make your own!
Being a tiny island, most of Easter Island’s local menus consist of seafood. The staple fish are tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi or kana kana, and they’re caught fresh daily around the island’s shores. Vegetables and agricultural produce including sweet potatoes, yams, plantains and sugarcane are also produced on the island, forming the second half of the typical diet.
A signature traditional dish, called the Umu Rapa Nui is slow-cooked in a hole in the ground with firewood and stones, and consists of layers of chicken or fish, leaves, sweet potatoes and tapioca.
Drinks and Nightlife
As you may have already concluded, Easter Island is NOT the place you want to go for some serious nightlife action. It’s a place to get away to, a place to completely escape from the world for a while; not the place to dance the night away. Hanna Roa and Rapa Nui are the spots to find the small selection of bars the island does host and there’s even a couple of clubs (Piriti and Toroko) to be found if you look hard enough.
Tips and Culture
The ‘official’ language of the island is Spanish, or a very basic variation of it, though most staff who work in the tourism sector will have a decent-to-excellent grasp of English.
The island has a subtropical climate, and reaches around 27 degrees during the summer (December – February) and peaks around 18 degrees, with frequent rainfall in the winter months (June – August).
You should avoid bringing a credit card if you can; some ATMs on the island don’t accept VISA, and using a credit card can get very expensive with recurring stamp fees. The official currency is the Chilean peso, though they’ll also accept U.S. dollars pretty much everywhere. Cash is king on Easter Island.
Could it be anything else? In the immortal words of Rihanna, this is what you came for. The stone-faced moai, stalwarts of the island and some of the most distinctive states in the world. They’re incredible pieces of ancient history and the feeling you get when you’re standing next to them is damn near spine-tingling.
They can be found all over the island, endlessly peering out along its rugged coasts; no visit to this most mythical and beautiful of destinations would be complete without seeing them firsthand.
Easter Island might seem like several worlds away, but everything remains a dream until you kick it into gear. Hopefully you’ve jotted down a few ideas from this article in your BUCKiTDREAM planner and can see yourself partaking in some of the best activities and experiences that Easter Island has to offer. So, what exactly are you waiting for?