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Easter Island

Travel Coach Chile > Chile > Easter Island

Have you ever dreamed of going on a trip to Easter Island ? What if it was time to make this dream come true?

Easter Island is the most isolated territory in the world and is located in the middle of the Pacific , in Polynesia. The island has gained its popularity because of its unusual geographical location, but also thanks to its mysterious history. The giant statues found on the island (known as moais)also contribute to making Easter Island unique, authentic and fascinating.

Exploring Easter Island for a few days,will give you the opportunity to uncover its many secrets! A visit to Estern Islan, Rapa Nui on local language, involves laying on a pink sandy beaches, climbing small volcanoes and admiring more than 1,000 Moai, the giant heads, who were witnesses of easter island complex and mysterious society.

If all of the above finished to convince you to go exploring this amazing and unique island, check out our comprehensive travel guide.

Map
The Mysteries of Easter Island
What are the best tours of Easter Island?
Our practical tips and recommendations
Travel package to Easter Island

Before going into details about must-see places and things to do on Easter Island, do you know exactly where it is? Easter Island is located 2300 miles from the Pacific coast, and 2500 miles from Tahiti. Does that sounds like far from everything? Then have a look at our map.

Being lost in the middle of the Pacific, Easter Island belongs to Polynesia,but it is administratively attached to Chile,making it the most remote island of its continent in the world.

The island is not very large, and looks like a triangle that has sides of 15, 11 and 10 miles, and an area of 1780 sq feet. On this small surface you will find the perfect combination between paradise-like landscape, culture and history. Let’s have a quick overview of the places to visit on Easter Island, on our interactive map.

Detailed map of Easter Island

EasterIsland is mainly known for its moais and ceremonial altars (called ahu). But these Head Stones are not the only reason creating a myth around Easter Island. Here are 5 mysteries that surround the history of the most isolated island in the world.

Mysteries surrounding Easter Island

Rano Raraku island of moais easter

History

Unfortunately, it is not clear when the settlement of the island dates back, or how it was discovered. The knowledge and traditions of the island’s past were taken away when the last Maori rongo rongo died in 1863.

One of the most common theories is that the island was discovered by Polynesian people 1500 years ago, probably from by people sailing from Marquesas Islands on double-hulled canoes. The pascuan word of mouth tells that each of the 7 sons of Polynesian king Hotu Matu’a was sent to a corner of the island, creating different tribes.

Although there is very little information about the Pascuan society from the 5th to the 17th century, it is assumed that there were two distinct eras.

One of the ahu moai, which marked the heyday of Head Stones until the 1680s.

And the one of the huri moai, as of 1680 to the arrival of missionaries in 1864. The 19th century marks the end of the cult of moais, probably related to the infighting of the clans (may itself be linked to the overcrowding of the island). In this era started the Birdmand Cult.

This was followed by an era impacted by European explorers,slavery and missionaries, who ended pascuan civilization. The island officially became Chilean in 1888, and lived through a nightmare during years. In 1960 the installation of electricity, running water, school, voting rights,… gave to its inhabitants a more decent livelihood.

Interpretation of Head Stones in Easter Island

Moais are world-famous, and have contributed greatly to the world renown of Easter Island. However, these statues have not yet revealed all their secrets,and a part of mystery still exists regarding their origin and their construction by the Pascuane society. Most likely, these stone giants represent the living faces of the ancestors so that they can exercise their power to protect the tribe. The clans ordered the construction of a moai to honor their deceased. These were built on the Rano Raraku volcano, made of volcanic stone.

Transportation of moais

moai easter island transport secret story mysteryHere is a debate that excites the crowds, and which is still not fully resolved today: how were the Moais moved? Bear in mind that these Head Stones weighed several tons,and that they had to be transported on several miles without any mechanical assistance. Some say they were dragging them on the mud when it rained, others say they were rolled on wooden logs… Some archaeologists have deduced from the gravity of the statues (and the base of the rounded statues) that the Moais could have been “simply” moved from left to right, standing, held by ropes on the front and back, as if they were dancing!

Easter Island inhabitants

Rapa Nui living easter island flower necklace

Today, the inhabitants of Easter Island, called Rapa Nui, have not forgotten their roots and are trying to keep their culture going. Indeed, there is a cultural movement that pushes young people to adopt traditions and learn about the typical way of life. They feel much more Rapa Nui than Chilean byt the way. When you meet them, don’t hesitate to ask them questions to find out more. They will be delighted to share their story. On a political perspective, Rapa Nui has gained more administrative freedom since 2007. Although it depends on the province of Valparaíso, it can negotiate directly with the government and benefit from the juridical status of special territory.

Tapati and traditions

Tapati Island of Easter traditions

Every year in February, Tapati takes place. This is a traditional festival during which the various local teams test their Pascuan skills. These celebrations take place near to the site of Orongo. Here is a list of the different events that usually take place:

  • Vaka Tuai:each team will have to recreate a traditional Polynesian boat in which the group will sail in traditional clothes
  • Takona:body painting competition. As in the rest of Polynesia, during the traditional ceremonies the Rapa Nui painted their faces and bodies according to the rank they held in society.
  • Riu: interpretations of traditional songs about stories and legends of the Rapa Nui people
  • Hoko Haka Opo:Competition between various traditional music groups
  • Haka Pei: quite risky competition where young people slide on banana trees trunks on a slope of 45 degrees and 400 ft long. They can reach speeds of up to 50 mi/h
  • Titigui Mahute:making typical costumes in mahute (plant introduced by the first inhabitants of the island)
  • Pora:totora boat competition. Competitors will be evaluated on a run of 5000 ft long in typical costumes and body paint
  • Tau’a Rapa Nui: sports competition that takes place at Rano Raraku, similar to a triathlon. The competitors alternate three traditional modalities: Vaka Ama (small totora canoes), Swimming and Aka Venga (running with two bunches of bananas carried on the shoulders)

Do you want to learn more about the history of Easter Island and culture?

There are 2 good museums on Rapa Nui. The anthropological museum,where you will discover the culture, beliefs and traditions of Easter Island,and the Tadeo-Lili Museum, where you can learn about history.

Tapati canoe polynesian Easter island February

The island may seem small, and you might think (wrongly) that we quickly go around. Of course it is not very large, but its rich culture and its beautiful landscapes worth trip of a few days. Check out our selection of must-see places. We also recommend reading our itinerary on Easter Island in 5 days.

The must-haves for organising your Easter Island stay

Hanga Roa, the quiet village

Hanga Roa

As soon as you leave your plane, you will have the opportunity to get straight into the atmosphere of Easter Island by being greeted by a necklace of flowers. You feel transported directly to Polynesia. Once installed in your accommodation, we advise you to explore Hanga Roa. Hanga Roa, which is the main village of the island. The town is very quiet and you will surely enjoy a pleasant sea breeze.

Ahu Tahai at sunset

Tahai sunset easter island sunset

We recommend you to visit the Tahai archaeological site! It is the most accessible site with the Moais… In addition, the spot is ideal for sunset. On the road, you can also see 2 lonely moais, including one with his eyes (and it is the only one on the island).

To finish your day quietly, stroll through the alleys and discover the local gastronomy.

Rano Kau, the sacred volcano

rano kau easter island volcano

Easter Island is a volcanicisland. Today, although the island has 70 volcanoes, only 3 are well known. Rano Kau is the largest volcanic crater on Easter Island! The spectacular eruption of Rano Kau, took place two million years ago, it was one of the three great eruptions that gave life to this magical island located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Rano Kau, is accessible by foot (recommended), by bike or by car. From the summit you will discover a crater filled with a lake that has beautiful shades of green and blue. In the background, appears the ocean. The place is magic. This impressive 0.6 miles diameter crater holds a large fresh water lagoon. There are some small islands made of reeds,with abundant vegetation and the presence of an aquatic microfauna.

Orongo, the ceremonial site

site ceremoniall orongo island of peacocks man bird

To the south, the ceremonial village of Orongo consists in well preserved ruins of typical houses and petroglyph. In addition, it offers a beautiful view of motu Nui islet, where the Birdmand took place. The site includes 53 houses built with flat stones that used to part of the ceremonial village of Orongo. Rocks with petroglyph are also located there. The cult of the Birdman took place there as part of an an annual ceremony that aimed to elect one of the most important men of the island. He was supposed to ensure a link between God and men. This ceremony consisted of sending chosen servants to jump off the cliff and swim to Motu Nui,retrieve an egg and bring it back to the king (after swimming the way back and climbing the cliff!). The anthropological Museum Padre Sebastian Englert is the perfect place to learn more about the origins and the different theories related to Easter Island.

Ahu Akivi, 7 moais who look at the ocean

7 moai on the island of easter chile ahu akivi

Akivi ahu, is known for its 7 moais that look out to sea. This is the only place on the island where Head Stones look at the ocean! Those seven moais would represent the envoys of King Hotu-Matua. The site is the access point of two hikes:the one to the top of the island or the one to go west, towards the ocean and down along the coast towards Hanga Roa.

Puna Pau (career of moais headdresses)

The site is located in the centre of Easter Island. We recommend to go there and then on the west coast. It was in Puna Pau’s stone quarry that the headdresses of the statues, the pukao, were carved. You will no doubt enjoy the panoramic view of the city.

Ahu Tongariki and his 15 moais (for sunrise)

tongariki moais ocean easter island

The imposing Tongariki site includes 15 Moai lined up with their backs to the sea. This is one of the most popular places onEaster Island. The Ahu (a kind of ceremonial platform) that lies below the Moai weighs 84 tons! Very popular for sunrise,this place has everything from a postcard.

Rano Raraku, the career of moais

Rano raraku carriere moai island of easter

World-famous Moais are silent witnesses of the past of the Rapa Nui ethnic group. Across the island there are more than 1,000 copies of these giant sculptures carved into the rock and 400 of them can be found in the rocks of the Rano Raraku volcano. Its surroundings are for many the most mystical place of Easter Island. To try not to miss anything and take your time. Wander aimlessly up the heights but don’t miss the Giant (the largest moai ever carved).

Anakena’s paradise beach

Anakena beach easter island

We would not close this section of our guide without recalling thatEaster Island has everything of a paradise island! EasterIsland’sDream Beach is called Anakena. This beach has everything from a paradise’s postcard: white sand, turquoise water, coconut trees and … 5 majestic moais. Everything you need to live a dream awakened while you swim. Ovahe, a small beach east of Anakena is a wild cove further away from tourists (because of ocean currents that can be dangerous). From the beach, you can see Poike Peninsula. It is currently closed to the public for renovation and environmental protection. Don’t miss the Ahu Nau Nau on the beach, which are 5 of the best preserved moais on Easter Island. A real postcard landscape: 5 moais with their headdress, against a backdrop of coconut trees, turquoise sea and fine sand.

Our selection of activities to visit Easter Island:

  • Visit the must-see archaeological sites of the Moais
  • Watch and try to understand petroglyphas part of the historical remains
  • Enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving and paddle in crystal clear waters
  • Sail on Polynesian canoes with top athletes
  • Understanding the island’s culture and history with an English speaking who has been living there for 15 years
  • Horseback riding to the highest mountain on the island
  • Swim, sunbathe and rest on a sandy beach
  • Discover ancestral dances in a traditional show
  • Go by boat for a fishing session supervised by an expert
  • Discover the unusual sights of the North island on a guided hike
  • Learn and understand the island during a visit to the Anthropological Museum
  • Enjoy a beautiful sunset behind the impressive Moais

easter island veloTraditional dancers at the Tapati festival Easter IslandEaster island equestrian hike

In this section, you will find all our practical information to organize your trip to Easter Island.

Practical information for a trip to Easter Island

Hanga Roa Island of Easter

What is the best season to go to Easter Island?

The climate of Easter Island is subtropical. In summer, the temperature varies between 16 and 28 °C. During winter, you can expect between 14 and 22°C. Remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are reversed, and summer takes place during January and February and winter in July and August. As for the weather, it is hot and humid all year round, and there may be showers in each season. May and June are usually the most rainy months, but this varies from year to year. In conclusion, you can visit the beautiful Easter Island all year round, whatever the season.

Rando island of easter

How much time should you spend on Easter Island?

Don’t be fooled by the small size of the island: two days are not enough to get to know it well. Take the opportunity to explore it in depth! On a three-day trip to Easter Island, you’ll visit the most important places, but it’s very likely that you have the frustrating feeling that you should have stayed longer. In Rapa Nui,there are not only a significant number of archaeological sites to visit, but also many activities that you can do. Not to mention that you will want to spend time enjoying the tranquility of the most isolated place in the world, watching beautiful sunsets or spending time with the locals. Thus, at Travel Coach Chile,our itineraries are adapted and offer you a fair and authentic way to discover Easter Island.

anakena beach easter island

How to get to Easter Island?

As you have understood, Easter Island is lost in the middle of the Pacific. Therefore, the only two ways to access it are not boat or by plane. There is, in fact, about twice a year a Chilean navy ship that connects the mainland with the island, in 7 days. But we recommend you fly (5 hours flight). Latam is the only airline to travel toEaster Island,either from Santiago de Chileor from Tahiti. Normally, there is only one daily flight, but in high season there are up to two, or even three during the Tapati festival.

Another tip: the earlier you get your plane tickets, the cheaper you’ll pay. This recommendation is especially true forEaster Island. We also recommend you buy your tickets from Santiago – Easter Island from abroad. Prices for flights to Easter Island are usually expensive, but are less expensive when you buy them from the US of the UK.

Where to stay on Easter Island?

The island has developed a solid touristic offer, and there is a great choice of accommodation. However, during our inspection tour,we found that the value for money was not as great as we would expect, and that many accommodations were poorly maintained and sometimes wet. We have made a drastic selection of some accommodations where we feel the conditions are nice and pleasant. These ranges from a simple and clean hostal facing the sea,a comfortable hotel with a swimming pool,an unusual glamping lodge, a family villa with garden and ocean views, to a high-end guest room with a breakfast room with ocean views. The smallest budgets can opt for a camping formula next to the ocean. Tents are provided and set up on site. Good to know: Since 2018, you are obliged to book it in advance, as you must show your reservation when boarding to Easter Island.

easter island room

How much cost a trip to Easter Island ?

The big question: what is the budget for a stay on Easter Island? At the risk of disappointing some of you, the price of a stay on Easter Island is high, even if you make economic choices about everything. This will make it difficult for you to organize a“cheap”stay at Easter Island. Here are all the criteria you need to consider to estimate your budget as accurately as possible.

car rental easter island

First of all you should know that a return ticket to Easter Island from Santiago de Chile costs at least 500 USD. From time to time a special offers decreased the price to 350 USD, but the dates are very limited. During Tapati festival, prices skyrocket to 1000 USD or more. Then you have to take into account the accommodation. As a good basis, you should plan to spend about 200 USD per night for comfortable and pleasant accommodation. To give a reference, the night in the cheapest hospital we work with costs about 90 USD, with breakfast. You also have to add the price of admission to the island to be able to visit all sites: 80 USD per person. Add to that the car rental (which seems essential, because the bike option only allows you to see a small part of the island) for about 65 USD per day for a Suzuki Jimny in good condition. Finally, to estimate your budget for your stay, add meals (about 15% more expensive than on the mainland), and all possible extras spendings (guide, hike, traditional dance show, shopping..).

Travel to Easter Island : documents and requirements

Easter island roadtrip

Since 2018, entry into the territory has been regulated by the authorities. At boarding you will be required:

  • To evidence that you have a return ticket with a flight back to Chile, at maximum 30 days after your arrival
  • To show a valid passport
  • To show that you made at a hotel officially registered in Sernatur, or an invitation letter. The document must state the address.
  • The FUI form, which you will complete online during your check-in 24h in advance) and which you will need to show before boarding

Our travel Blog

We have done our best to be as comprehensive as possible while preparing this travel guide to Easter Island. If you want to read our suggested itinerary for a stay on Easter Island,we recommend visiting our blog with our tips for a 5-day-trip Easter Island. We also suggest reading travel stories or watching documentaries, to prepare for this unique trip as best as possible If you are convinced by a trip to Easter Island then contact us now.

sunrise tongariki

Now that you have all the information you need to travel to Easter Island , you’re probably wondering which agency to contact to organize this fabulous trip. The answer is quite simple: we are the most attentive agency to build the trip of your dreams;-) If you are not yet convinced, read:

Should I book a travel package to Easter Island?

We are not fans of travel package where you simply get on a bus and watch the scenery. And for traveling to Easter Island, this is definitely not the type of trip we recommend. As an experienced travel agency in Chile, we organize tailored made trips to Easter Island. We take care of the entire organization of your stay, i.e. accommodations, car rentals, transfers, guide, and activities. We recommend this kind of trip, because it is the right balance between flexibility and organized tour. In addition, you will receive just as needed historical information from our english-speaking guides. We believe that a trip to Easter Island is a one in a lifetime journey, during which we want you to take the time to appreciate every detail and every moment. And for Easter Island honeymoons, we have unique tips such as having under the stars,or a unique stargazing session where you will talk about Polynesian traditions.

Ahu Pau Pau Island of easter beach anakena

Which destinations should you add to your bucket list after or before a trip to Easter Island?

We sometimes receive requests for a stay in Galapagos – Easter Island,for honeymoons for example. Or Peru – Easter Island. We do not recommend combining two destinations so far away, as you would spend far too much time on flights and connexions. In our opinion, the best combination trip remains: Chile – Easter Island. Indeed, Easter Island is accessible by plane only from Santiago de Chile or Tahiti, it is easier to choose a flight from Chile to reduce the cost and the duration of your journeys. In addition, we recommend you to travel to Patagonia and Easter Island if you travel between November and March. At another time of year, an Atacamaand Easter Island trip is a great idea. And for the ones who you have 3 weeks, you can even plan a trip with the 3 best destinations of Chile : Easter Island, Atacama and Patagonia.

Discover our tours to Easter Island

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