Easter Island Guide, Chile

Fallen Easter Island moai, Tongariki, Chile

Easter Island Moai at Tongariki

Easter Island Guide for Visitors

Weather

Climate: subtropical with an annual average temperature of 20C. September to April, the drier months, is the main tourist season.

Coldest month, August/mid-winter (15C-18C). Hottest month February/summer (24C-27C).
Wettest month, May (16cm of rain). The driest month is September.

Easter Island’s capital is the tiny, practically invisible town of Hanga Roa.

Activities

Viewing moai is possible by rental bicycle though the best groups of statues – such as the Tongariki – are on the other side of the island from the accommodation in Hanga Roa, so this will take some time, and if clouds or rain arrive while en route a quick change of target destination is not that easy. Due to the not infrequent rain motorcycles can be a pain too.
A rental jeep (high ground clearance is necessary but not 4WD) is probably the transport of choice, wallet permitting, though informative tours from Hanga Roa can be easily arranged too.

Apart from hiking, biking and bathing off one of the island’s two pretty beaches (wheels required), scuba diving is apparently excellent, mainly due to Rapa Nui’s total absence of rivers dumping sediment into the sea and thus screwing up visibility.

Best Sights on Rapa Nui

• Fifteen moai lined up on Tongariki’s volcanic shore, the most on one platform(picture at top).

• Four well-preserved moai, a bunch of palms trees, soft white sand and the protected waters of delightful Anakena beach.

• Hundreds of well-preserved moai in varied stages of completion emerging spookily from the ground of the grassed, volcanic quarry of Rano Raraku, inside and outside the crater.

• The post-moai, bird-God ceremonial houses and petroglyphs of Orongo, perched on the ridge between the massive Rano Kau volcano and a sheer cliff face into the sea.

• The tiny but perfectly informed Padre Sebastian Englert museum on the outskirts of Hanga Roa which has clear descriptions and exhibits documenting the peculiar history of this island. This is where you will see a female moai, samples of the weapons used during the latter years of conflict and examples of wood engraved with Rapa Nui’s unique writing system, rongorongo (a picture-based concept where you have to flip the wood around to read each new line).

Time to spend here?

A minimum visit of two days in Easter Island is possible, but due to clouds and occasional rain that will disturb the ambience and attempts to take decent pictures, at least three or four days on Rapa Nui is recommended.

Inter-Chile transport

Buy your Lan Chile Air Pass when you buy your inbound ticket from outside South America. (i. e. there are no Air Passes if you buy from Argentina etc! )
Beware Lan Chile airline offices in Argentina and Peru. Staff are ignorant, inefficient and make costly mistakes, so avoid if you can, or double-check everything.

A Few Facts

Population: about 3, 800. Language, Spanish or Rapa Nui. Currency, preferably Chilean pesos. Dollars OK though the exchange rate is pathetic. There is one ATM on the island.

Distance from Chile, 3, 800 kms (2, 375miles). Distance from Tahiti (the next island), 4, 050 kms. Thus this is the most remote inhabited island in the world.

There are hundreds of moai (stone carved statues) on the island; sources differ on the precise number and we didn’t count them.

Easter Island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Rapa Nui is triangular, 23km long by 11km wide, and was created by the eruption of three volcanoes that are still visible. The total area of Rapa Nui is 171 sq kms. There are just two sandy beaches, on the north coast.