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Things to do on Easter Island

While most know and visit Easter Island for the ancient Moai statues left by the Rapa Nui civilization, there are plenty of other activity options on offer for adventurous travelers, though many are connected to seeing the Moai as well. The island lies some 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, and although part of the country, its culture is Polynesian. Here’s the top 10 things to do in on Easter Island.

See the Moai quarry

Rano Raraku is located on the slopes of Teravaku in the Rapa Nui National Park. It was formed from a volcanic crater and was used by the Rapa Nui culture for around 500 years as the main quarry for creating the Moai statues seen across the island. They Moai were built somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 years ago and although they were built for the gods, ironically the felling of all the trees to transport the heavy statues led to a huge change in the environment and the downfall of the civilization. An enormous 21.6 metre incomplete statue weighing over 270 tonnes still sits at the quarry.

Swim at Anakena Beach

The white sand on Anakena beach is made from ground coral and is one of the best on the island. Though most visit to see the nearby statues, the beach is a highlight. While away an afternoon sunbathing or swim in the warm Pacific Ocean.

Join Tapati festival

The festival is over 40 years old and started to help maintain Rapa Nui culture and drawing in tourism. The two-week long festival starts at the beginning of February and is full of Rapa Nui dancing, singing and competitions. Every year, two females compete to become the Queen of Tapati and there are horse racing competitions on different parts of the island. It’s one of the best, albeit the most expensive time to visit.

Biking around Easter Island

Flickr: Helen K

Taking a self-guided or guided mountain biking tour around Easter Island can be a great way to introduce yourself to the Moai and the island scenery. There are plenty of routes including Hanga Roa to Orongo and Puna Pau to Tahai. There are some paved roads across the island, but many are trails and paths which can be quite challenging. Rentals cost around US $15 a day. Just check the quality of the bike before you hire it.

See the sunrise at Tongariki

A popular tour for visitors to the island. Head down to the site of Tangariki where 15 Moai statues stand on a ceremonial platform overlooking the ocean. During sunrise and sunset, the most amazing colours can be seen hitting the ocean, coastline and Moai. A magical experience, just remember to bring your camera!

Hit the surf

Flickr: anoldent

You might not know this, but Easter Island has some excellent surf. There are several hire shops and schools if you want to learn which are inexpensive and offer good quality equipment. After a morning of exploration, the Pacific swells are a great way to expend some energy.

Hike up Terevaka Volcano

The summit of Terevaka Volcano is the highest point on the island, towering over 500 metres above sea level and offering spectacular views across the island. Hiking to the top can be a rewarding experience that takes around four hours round trip. Few people decide to climb Terevaka, so those who do might very well have the summit all to themselves. For those who don’t want to trek, a horse riding tour to the top can be arranged.

Watch the Birdman ceremony

The Tangata Manu, also called the Birdman ceremony started sometime in the 18th century. Held in September every year, one man from each tribe contends in a dangerous competition to collect the first egg of the Easter Island (Manutara) seagull. To do so, the competitors must paddle across the rough ocean on floating reeds to the caves where the eggs are laid and then bring it back in tact to present it to the chief. The winner keeps the emptied egg Birdman’s house.

Gorge on seafood

Being an island, it’s not surprising that the main diet of the Easter Island community is seafood. There are plenty of great restaurants to gorge on fresh seafood including mahi mahi, tuna, swordfish, lobster and prawns. Look out for sea urchins which litter the beaches throughout the year. Eaten raw, these can be opened on a rock and the roe eaten right out the shell.

Want to visit Easter Island? Start planning your journey today. Take a look at our suggested Chile tours, call our Chilean travel expert on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

How Did Easter Island Get Named?

Copyright David Horwell

Copyright David Horwell

Easter Island was named by European Jacob Roggeveen who first saw the island on Easter Sunday, 1722 whilst leading a Dutch expedition to the South Seas. Of course the Polynesians had found it centuries before and they called it Rapanui. This small island is the most remote inhabited island in the World, being over 2,000km from Pitcairn its nearest neighbour to the north-west, Chile lies even further to the east.  This small volcanic island was annexed to Chile in 1888, and until 1965 the Chileans kept the natives as interns on their own island and used it as a big sheep farm. In 1996, Easter Island made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Archaeologists have long wondered about the construction and transport of the long-faced statues or moai that are scattered all over the island. It is thought that the statues may have ‘walked’ by rocking them from side to side vertically with teams of workers with ropes over wooden rollers. Later statues were toppled as it was thought their power no longer worked. This coincided with the arrival of the Europeans. Today the island has become a Mecca for those seeking the ultimate escape and several boutique hotels and lodges can be found, the real attraction are the wonderful people, descendents of the Polynesian seafarers who found the island against all odds over a thousand years ago. Contact us for details of how to get there.

Easter Island aficionado David meets Dr Jago Cooper

david_Jago

Easter Island aficionado David meets Dr Jago Cooper of the British Museum*, whose documentary on Easter Island recently screened on BBC4. David was there 27 years ago (with a previous BBC ‘Horizon’ film crew). In those days the theory was that the islanders, known as Rapanui, were the cause of their own demise by cutting down the trees and using up all resources. Cooper’s film shows that this is unfair and that the islanders were living in harmony with the environment and it was the contact with outsiders that brought disease, slavery and unsuitable farming that did for the island. Whatever the history a visit to the island is an unforgettable trip and should be high on anyones ‘Bucket list’. * At the Latin American Travel Association’s annual  event at the House of Lords. Photo courtesy Adrian Pope.

The world’s most remote party on Easter Island

If you want the ultimate party we invite you to enjoy Tapati Rapa Nui 2013 which will be celebrated in February on Easter Island. You will of course visit the iconic sites of Easter Island but also enjoy and participate in the Tapati, the popular Island’s party, which re-creates ancestral traditions and rituals. This annual festival is when the Pascuenses (Easter Island people) get a chance to expresses the spirit and cultural identity of their ancestors: the Polynesian tribal clans. The activities include: Takona – extreme body painting, singing competitions, Haka Pei – where brave young men slide down the cliff of Pu’i hill on a banana tree, Tau’a Rapa Nui – unique sports on Rano Raraku volcano. Rooms on the island are at a premium then but we have blocked bookings for you to participate in this unique party.

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