Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile

Anakena beach seen from the water, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile

Anakena beach onto which Polynesian King Hoku Matua, the first colonist stepped, sometime between 100 AD and 1200 AD.

Anakena Beach

Easter Island Anakena beach palms and moai, Chile

Anakena is the best beach on Rapa Nui, one of only two decent strands of sand (Hanga Roa has a couple of very small rocky beaches) and the other – neighbouring Ovahe – doesn’t have any tree shade, a good road leading to it, nor moai overseeing the marine action.

Anakena beach, the best on Rapa Nui, Easter Island, Chile

Anakena beach, lava rocks.

The Recovery

Rapa Nui’s recovery is largely attributable to an amateur British couple, William and Katherine Routledge who self-financed an expedition of cultural discovery in 1910, conducting extensive interviews with older Rapa Nui natives and exploring the island’s archeological remains and – perhaps most importantly – publicising the story of this extraordinary island in the Pacific Ocean.

Since 2010 the 5, 000 indigenous people of Rapa Nui have been waging a civil rights/independence movement against the Chilean government.

About 85, 000 tourists travel to Easter Island annually.

Anakena beach horses, Easter island, Chile

Palms give shade and locals sell drinks and barbied chicken. The beach is hardly used by humans other than weekends and public holidays. Archeologists and botanists calculate that when the and colonised the island, there were about 16 million palm trees (like the ones pictured above).

Evidence of social self-destruction dimissed

Anakena beach's moai, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile

Anakena beach’s moai; note the funky hats and the fine un-eroded features thanks to a few hundred years buried under sand – later revived and re-established by Thor Heyerdahl. They also have the finest back carvings of all Rapa Nui moai.

Recent archeological excavations have determined that before foreign intrusion:

a) there was no sign of starvation or cannibalism

b) there were plenty of trees left; they started with 16 million and needed a maximum of 100, 000 for moai transportation

c) natives were clever ‘gardeners’, protecting soil with scattered volcanic rocks (known as lithic mulching) and growing trees and root vegetables in rock wall protected gardens, using charcoal as fertiliser

d) they moved moai in two different ways according to the destination. One method, for ‘road’ transport, was an upright rocking motion controlled by ropes around the neck of the moai.