Easter Island brings to mind history and mystery. See its giant moai, statues of elongated human-like figures carved from volcanic rock. They rest on stone platforms called ahus and some wear stone headdresses. Learn about the ancient people who created these pieces as well as the explorers who pondered over them centuries later.
The island has about 900 moai, many in and around the Rano Raraku Quarry, with lava from the Rano Raraku volcano. They range in size from about 3 feet (1 meter) to 70 feet (21 meters) tall. Ahu Tongariki has one of the most prestigious displays. As you gaze at these amazing statues, marvel at the primitive engineering that transported the heavy carvings more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) across the island. Archaeologists have determined how the islanders used ropes, logs and human energy to complete this work, but don’t know why.
Explore distinct cultural developments over the last 1,200 years. The date is still debated but experts believe the Polynesians arrived in about A.D. 300 and developed moai starting about 700 A.D. but later destroyed many to build larger ones. After resource depletion and a fierce civil war, the local population dramatically declined. Europeans arrived on Easter Sunday 1722, giving the island its current name. Chile annexed the island, also known as Rapa Nui, in 1888 for sheep farming. Today tourism is the key industry.
Besides its historical significance, Easter Island offers very pleasant South Pacific beach vacation conditions. Travel to Anakena Beach on the northern shore to swim in azure waters the color of lapis lazuli gemstones, laze on the soft white sands under the shade of coconut palms or try bodysurfing. Gaze at the Ahu Nau Nau, with moai that are in exceptional condition after they were buried here in the sand for centuries.
Reach Easter Island by flying from Santiago, Chile, to Mataveri International Airport in the main city of Hanga Roa. Rent a four-wheel drive or use taxis to get around. Join a tour for best moai access and information.
Historical Buildings, Tours and Hiking
Relax on this sandy shoreline and learn about its history as the likely entry point for Easter Island’s first settlers many centuries ago.
The largest of its type on Easter Island, this impressive ceremonial platform features 15 huge head-and-torso stone statues lined up in a row.
See a carved stone figure that is almost twice the height of any other statue on Easter Island and hundreds more sculptures at this volcanic crater.
Venture inland to this sanctified site, home to a row of monumental carved stone heads created in the 16th century by the Rapa Nui people.
Climb to the top of this extinct volcano for spectacular views of the ocean and the rest of this picturesque island.
The pink sand and perfect blue water of this small cove are ideal for relaxing beneath the morning sun of Easter Island.
Rapa Nui National Park, a wildlife sanctuary spread across most of Easter Island and a UNESCO World Heritage site, contains about 900 moai sculptures as well as 300 ahu, or ceremonial platforms, on which the carved figures stand.
After hotel pickup in Hanga Roa, you're driven to the Ahu Vinapu ceremonial complex. The ceremonial center of Vinapú includes one of the largest ahu in Rapa Nui.
On your sightseeing adventure, you'll come across moai, stone giants that on average stand 13 feet (4 meters) tall and weigh 14 tons (13 metric tons). Said to represent ancestral spirits or preeminent tribal figures, some moai are placed upon ahu, or ceremonial sites.
Learn about the Rapa Nui people through their food, song, and dance. Native Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island, the Rapa Nui make up around 60 percent of the island’s population. Their unique cuisine and vibrant culture is something that must be experienced to be believed.
Itinerary This is a typical itinerary for this product Stop At: Ahu Tahai, Rapa Nui, Easter Island Chile Start the journey by visiting the ahu platforms at Tahai, where the clear morning light brings alive the moai that look over this restored ancestral village of the Rapanui people.
Hugging the coast on the southwest side of Easter Island is the village of Hanga Roa, the capital and most inhabited part of the island. Explore this quaint harbor village and get a taste of local life.
The Southern Hemisphere offers half a world’s worth of weird places to go and wild things to do all winter long.