Easter Island is one of the world's remote and highly spiritual places. Located 4,000 kilometres from Tahiti in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is barely touched by modern civilization. It is often referred to as Rapa Nui, the "navel of the world".
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Only 64 square miles in size, it is like an open air museum for there are huge stone moais gathered everywhere. These mysterious carved figures, massive in size, some weighing 50 tons, stand more than ten meters high, gazing out across rolling hills, mountains and extinct volcanoes towards crystal clear waters.
Hanga Roa is the tiny capital where most of the 2,000 inhabitants live. About 69% of the islanders are descendants of the original Polynesian ancestors. The remainder are mostly from Chile. The official language is Spanish, but many islanders speak Rapa Nui.
Rapa Nui was settled around 300AD by Polynesians. Chile annexed Easter Island in 1888 and in the 1960s the island received its own municipal constitution province of Valparaiso.
There are no indigenous land mammals and even marina mammals are rare. White tropic birds nest on the offshore pinnacle of Motu Kao Kao. Life revolves around fishing, agriculture and archaeological research carried out by permanently stationed Chileans and foreigners. In the stone quarry near Rano Raraku volcano, you can see where the stone moais were quarried. There are also monuments in indifferent stages of construction. Other major attractions are the magnificent beaches. The ceremonial centre of Orongo perched on the rim of the glazier of the volcano is the best place to view the three islets of Motu which figured in the birdman ritual. At Tahai, a short walk from the village, locals can often be found selling artefacts such as carved replicas of the moais.
Visitors to the island can choose accommodation from among ten hotels and twenty-seven boarding houses, or stay with the family. Camping is allowed. Sightseeing is done by car, motor cycle, on horseback or on foot. If hiring a car, be aware that there is no insurance on the island. For the the very adventurous only, hire a fisherman with the boat to take you to Motu Nui to see the cave paintings. This can only be attempted on a calm day.
Food is moderate and everything that is not grown locally must be shipped in. The main diet is fish and chicken. Lobster is a delicious local treat and there is sweet potato, yam and poi made from taro. Night life is confined to the bigger hotels on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The best swimming is at Anakena or Ovahe beaches on the north coast. There is also big game fishing with local fishermen who will take you out in their boats. You can also snorkel, go hiking or horseback riding. Wood or stone carving are popular with tourists, and islanders often come to the hotels to display and sell their work. Also available are colourful T-shirts and posters.
The Rapa Nui festival is held for one week in late January and early February.
For More Information Contact:
AKU AKU TURISMO
FACTS AT A GLANCE
|Climate||Moderate temperatures which rarely exceed 30 degrees C and never drop below 14 degrees C. Winter can get chilly. May-June is the rainy season.|
|Clothing||Casual layered clothes. Pack warmer clothes in winter. Good walking shoes and a flash light are essential.|
|Time Zone||US standard mountain time less two hours.|
|Currency||$US. Chilean peso. Credit Cards incur a surcharge at most places.|
|Visas & Health||Incoming baggage is inspected. A departure tax is levied and inoculations are not required.|
LanChile has three weekly flights from Santiago, Chile and Papeete. However schedules change, so please check.
|Aspects of Easter Island|
|Easter Island and the Blackbirders|
|Oceania-The Last Voyage of Captain James Cook|
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