There really are no words to describe Rapa Nui and how magical this island is. It’s a place that you just need to experience for yourself. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. We have wanted to come here for 20 years or more and we finally made it! We couldn’t think of a better place to spend Christmas while traveling around South America.
You will need to buy a National Park ticket to see most of the sites and it’s a better deal if you pay in Chilean Pesos rather than US Dollars. Some people will try to tell you that you have to buy your park ticket at the airport and that you need it to enter the town of Hanga Roa but that’s not true. You don’t need the ticket to go to town and you can buy your ticket in Hanga Roa at the park office, the ticket is good for 5 consecutive days. Rapa Nui National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that absolutely can’t be missed!
The main town of Hanga Roa is small and it’s easy to walk everywhere. It has everything you need with a pretty good selection of restaurants. The empanadas were really good!
There are several theories as to what took place on Rapa Nui but it still remains very mysterious. There are different theories about how the Moai were moved. There are theories about why there are no trees, some say the islanders chopped down every single tree just to build skids to move the giant statues. There are theories about a civil war and cannabalism. There are theories as to why the Moai were deliberately toppled over. Regardless of the various theories, there’s no denying that the Moai are absolutely incredible and you can’t help but find yourself imagining how they were carved, how they were moved, and what exactly happened here?
On our first full day on the island we walked to one of the main sites called Tahai. There were several Moai here as well as a ramp made to enter the ocean. It’s also a very popular spot to take in the sunset. One thing to mention…you will inherit a friendly dog or three all over the island, they are super friendly though!
The next day we decided to trek up to the Rano Kau Volcano. The views along the way were beautiful but the view of the crater itself was stunning. The lake inside the crater was used in ancient times for drinking water.
From the top of the volcano we walked to the ceremonial stone village called Orongo which was dedicated to the Birdman competition. The competitors would make their way down the cliffs at Orongo village and then swim to Motu Nui (a small island offshore) and collect the first Sooty Tern egg of the season. The winner’s tribe would manage the island for the next year.
There is a trail you can trek that will take you all around the crater to the opposite side of Orongo village. The views are spectacular and it’s well worth the extra time.
You can’t come here without taking in a Rapa Nui traditional dance show. The dances are very polynesian and fun to watch.
The best way to see the island and all the sights in the National Park is to rent a car for a few days. Having the car really allowed us the freedom to stop where we wanted and to take our time at each place. The drive along the coast was gorgeous and we made several stops at various sites and viewpoints.
These are some of the Moai that were toppled over.
A smooth shaped magnetic round rock that some say has special powers.
There was lots of hustle and bustle happening in town as everyone was preparing for Christmas. We even attended the midnight mass which was really interesting. They combined some polynesian elements to it and there was a lot of live music (like a jam session in church) and singing, it was very festive!
Christmas morning came so fast and we were up incredibly early to go catch the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki. This is the largest and most impressive monument of Rapa Nui with 15 Moais. The sunrise was magical and it was worth dragging ourselves out of bed!
After sunrise we enjoyed a couple of the beaches. It was a beautiful way to spend Christmas!
Not to be missed is the Rano Raraku volcano that was converted into a quarry for the giant Moai statues. For what ever reason, the workers stopped and all the statues left behind still remain here.
The only kneeling Moai found is in the quarry.
Ahu Akivi is the only monument with Moai statues that are looking towards the sea. There likely was a village between them and the sea which is why they are facing this direction.
The cost to use the bathroom and park your bike was ridiculous here…
The best beach on Rapa Nui is Anakena. Not only is it a great beach but in the sand stands a monument with the best preserved Moais on the island. Not that long ago they were dug up after centuries of being buried under the sand.
There were so many wild horses on the beach and one poor dog was trying so hard to play with them.
On the way back from the beach we saw this interesting outrigger canoe in someone’s yard.
There are some interesting caves to visit and the first one we saw was Ana Kai Tangata. It had some petroglyphs that we initially had a hard time finding but Gordon was able to finally spot them.
The other cave we visited was Ana Te Pahu. Volcanic eruptions created lava channels throughout the island. Ana Te Pahu is a channel that runs the length of 7 km. This cave is known as plantain cave because of all the banana trees planted at the entrance.
There was another cave in the area that we were trying to find but to no avail. While I was waiting for Gordon this cute baby came around.
Aside from visiting the various sites on land, we also snorkeled in a purple sea! Yes the water was really purple!!
On our little boat trip we saw the beautiful coastal scenery.
We loved Rapa Nui but there’s a dark side here. We were shocked to see how the islanders are selling off the beautiful coral around their island. We popped in to the artisan market and as soon as we saw the coral for sale we felt so bad…
**Please do not buy the coral as it encourages more harvesting and selling of it**
Easter Island was an unforgettable experience and after waiting for so many years to visit, it was a dream come true!
Easter Island is very very expensive, it helps if you can self cater a bit. Don’t expect much from your accommodation, most places are pretty basic.
When booking your flight with Latam online, choose Chile as your home country and book it using the spanish website, this saved us $400.00 CAD per ticket!
Pay for your National Park ticket in Chilean Pesos, it’s a much better deal.
Where we stayed: Cabanas Anakena 👎
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel