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Easter Island – or Rapa Nui, by its Polynesian name – is one of those places that feels like stepping into a parallel reality. Located deep in the South Pacific some 3,700km to the west of Chile, this tiny speck of land may be hard to get to, but it is definitely worth the effort.
This island is one of the most isolated places in the world, and a trip here will take you on a completely new journey through outstanding nature, surprising secrets and remarkable history.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Easter Island is best known for its Moai statues – the hundreds of giant stone statues that scatter the island and stand testament to the dramatic, and still mysterious, rise and fall of a centuries-ago civilisation.
To this day, no one is quite sure exactly when the Rapa Nui civilisation first inhabited the island – with estimates ranging from several hundred to more than 1,000 years ago – nor, more intriguingly, why it collapsed. But the famous and imposing monolithic statues standing between 4 and 13 metres tall tell a tale of an advanced and prosperous civilisation that once lived in this remote and isolated island, and historians and archaeologists continue to chip away and discover more and more of the secrets this island still holds.
It may be many more years before Easter Island's mysteries are fully revealed, if they ever are, but even without knowing every detail of this island's history, a visit to this tiny land in the South Pacific is a worthy delight.
Beyond its famous statues, this island offers beautiful white sand beaches from which incredible snorkelling and diving can be enjoyed, fascinating volcanic craters to explore, an extensive cave system and a small but enchanting local community.
And here at Latin Routes, we can help you build a visit to this incredible island into your perfect South American holiday. Truly individual, designed-around-you, tailor-made itineraries are what we do, so just let us know the things that are most important to you and we will design your perfect holiday to this magical part of the world, taking care of every single little detail so there is nothing left for you to think about but enjoying the trip of your lifetime.
Tongariki is one of the most iconic sites on the island, where 15 of its incredible stone statues stand proudly in line next to one other. Now imagine these same statues at sunrise, basked in the early morning light, the entire area shrouded in the most beautiful shadows and dramatic atmosphere. Simply put, you can't miss it!
One of the benefits of Easter Island's small size is that it is possible to cycle across the entire island in one day! And better yet, you wouldn't even have to rush in order to do so. The size of the island truly allows for a leisurely cycle where you can stop and enjoy the various incredible sights along the way.
Easter Island is not a mountainous terrain, it’s instead rather flat, with a few pronounced volcanic hills. The highest point you will find here is the Terevaka Volcano, which is only 507 meters above sea level, but whether or not that is high enough becomes irrelevant when faced with the perfect 360-degree view of the entire island.
Although the ancient Rapa Nui civilisation no longer exists, that doesn't mean traditional activities are out of question. On the contrary, as locals still speak Rapa Nui and also practice some of the Rapa Nui customs. Head to Vaitemiki, located in Hanga Roa, to see a traditional Rapa Nui dancing show. We promise it's not like anything else you will have ever seen!
If you are flying from Santiago your passport won't get stamped at the airport, as Easter Island is still part of Chile. However, you can make a little stop at Easter Island's post office to get the unique Moai stamp on your passport, which we think is a must. After all, how many people can say that they have one?
Hanga Roa is the capital of Easter Island. As the only sizeable settlement, it is where you will find most of the hotels, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. The town is also known for having a small collection of Moai fragments, stone tools, and a tablet showing the still yet-to-be-deciphered Rapa Nui written language.
Half of the Moai statues of Easter Island are located in the Rano Raraku National Park, which in itself is a spot not to be missed. Considered to be the 'living faces' of deified ancestors, the Moai statues are monolithic human statues that were carved somewhere between 1250AD and 1500 AD. They are understood to have been a sign of protection to the clans that created them, and are still impressively built by today's standards.
This white coral sand beach is in the Rapa Nui National Park and also includes some of the famous Moai statues. Anakena is believed to have served as the very first settlement on the island, and nowadays it is the go-to spot for relaxation and enjoying fantastic swims in its crystalline waters.
Not everyone is aware of Easter Island’s incredible network of caves, which are great to visit as they give a better idea about the island's people and nature. The Ana Kakenga cave is one to keep in mind as it is located right at the edge of the island and has an opening looking towards the sea, which makes for a particularly impressive sunset view.
If you are wondering why the cave is named 'Ana Kakenga' be prepared for a sad love story. According to legend, this cave served as a hiding place for a young couple who fled from punishment for their forbidden love. In order to not be found, they covered the entrance from the inside and remained there until their death. The bodies were never found so it is still a mystery whether they died of hunger or threw themselves into the sea. Either way, this is probably the most romantic place on the island, and even more so when the sun is setting.
As famous as the Rapa Nui people are for being the creators of the unique Moai statues, that is not all that they have accomplished on the island – they also left a legacy of written history in the form of pictorial petroglyphs. While they aren't quite as prolific as the statues, you can still see them in many places around the island, and particularly at Papa Vaka. You can also find them at Ana Kai Tangata and Orongo.
A luxury hotel on the western coast of Easter Island, this luxurious eco-resort offers outstanding views – especially at sunset. The relaxed atmosphere and incredible stories of Easter Island are all the more reason to visit. The hotel's restaurant Poevera might just serve the best food on the island.
This hotel has been uniquely designed in the style of the traditional Easter Island boathouse. It features a beautiful swimming pool overlooking the sea and large open spaces to relax after adventurous, happy days spent exploring the island. It also features a restaurant that serves a mixture of Peruvian, Chilean and Rapa Nui cuisine.
The Explora Rapa Nui has a privileged location on a hill overlooking the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. This hotel is the perfect base for exploring this beautiful and mysterious island. There are 30 very comfortable and stylish guest rooms and suites, all with a small living area, hydro-massage bath and particularly soft mattresses.
Easter island's climate is mainly subtropical: warm and humid in summer and mild in the winter. From January to March the daily average temperature is 23°C, and in the remaining months (July to September) it sits at around 18°C. Maximum temperatures are usually below 30°C but from January to March this can be exceeded with temperatures reaching 35°C. During the winter (June to August), night temperatures are slightly below 10°C.
Easter Island is great to visit all year round, as the temperature range is small due to the influence of the ocean. Nonetheless, if you are looking for the highest temperatures, the perfect time to go would be during the austral summer that goes from December to March. This is the warmest and sunniest period on Easter Island.
June to August is winter, but the weather is not harsh enough to mean you'll need extremely warm clothes. Spring/autumn clothing is usually a good choice for this period – jumpers, a jacket for the evening, and a raincoat or umbrella.
In summer, from December to February, light clothing is definitely the go to choice. Maybe also add a jumper for the evening and umbrella or light raincoat just in case.
Easter Island is one of the most remote places in the world, which has probably contributed to the fascination with its origins and history. After all, given its location in the middle of the South Pacific, it is incredible to think that this island was first discovered by Polynesian people who arrived on humble wooden canoes!
It is believed that these settlers first arrived in an organised party of immigrants around 300-400 A.D. According to oral tradition, the first king of Easter Island was Hoto-Matua, a ruler from a Polynesian subgroup – the Marquesa Islands. It is also thought that his ship travelled thousands of miles before landing at Anakena, the famous sandy beach on the island’s rocky coast.
But the mysterious arrival of these Polynesians is only the beginning of the story that makes Easter Island so fascinating.
The Rapa Nui people were not only incredibly skilled at sea but also evidentially incredibly talented, and intelligent, in other ways which is evidenced in their having created some of the most well-known statues in the world - the Moai stone statues. Spread all over the island and believed to be numbering nearly 900 in total, it is thought that these statues were built in order to protect and look over the clans that had built them. But meaning aside, if a giant stone statue between 4 and 13 meters tall is complex to build today, we can only imagine how they might have built 900 of them almost 1,000 years ago!
These enormous and famous stone statues were carved out of tuff (the light, porous rock formed by consolidated volcanic ash), and placed on top of ceremonial stone platforms called ahus. The reasons for these statues being constructed in such high numbers, and how they were moved around the island, are still unknown. Nonetheless, in our opinion that is something that adds to the charm and mystery of this tiny corner of the world.
The island's modern name of Easter Island, or Isla de Pascua, came about in 1722, when the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovered the island whilst sailing the South Pacific. It so happened that his discovery was made on Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar, and so the name of this beautiful and historically fascinating dot in the ocean thus became what we still call it today - Easter Island.
On this 16-day trip, you will immerse yourself in the enigma and mysteries of Easter Island, where you will come face to face with the Moai statues, and the enriching history of the Rapa Nui people who call the island their home.
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