If you want to pinpoint Easter Island on the world map, you’ll have to know where to look. Because Easter Island is just a tiny dot in the middle of the huge South Pacific Ocean. And although it’s officially part of Chile, it’s still a five-hour flight from the mainland. Add the mysterious moai statues to the mix and I knew we had to jump at the chance to pay Easter Island a visit.
There are some places in the world you just know you’ll only visit once. Not because you didn’t like them, but because they are so remote, hard to get to or expensive. Easter Island is one of those places and I feel extremely lucky to have visited it as part of our round the world trip. This isolated island is simply magical, and here are five reasons why.
1. The moai statues
Nobody knows exactly what their function was and how they were transported to their platforms. That is definitely part of the mystery of the famous moai. But even without knowing anything about the statues, you feel a kind of mystic energy and power coming from them. The fifteen moai at Ahu Tongariki are especially impressive and at their best at sunrise.
2. The volcanoes
Easter Island is gorgeous. It has a wild coast, great surfing waves, beautiful grasslands and it was formed by three extinct volcanoes that still dominate the island. We visited two volcanoes and they were very much worth it. The first one was Rano Raraku, where the giant moai’s were produced out of volcanic stone. From here they were transported to their platforms all over the island. The statues that didn’t make it are still lying on the slopes of the volcano and are definitely a must see.
The second volcano we hiked up to was Rano Kau and I’ve never seen anything like it. Inside the volcano is a 200 meter deep crater lake, which is one of the island’s only three natural sources of fresh water. The lake is party clogged up and overgrown with reed, which gives the lake its many colours. On the slopes of Rano Kau you can also visit the holy place Orongo and its rock drawings. The view from the volcano is simply amazing.
3. The Polynesian culture
Easter Island may be part of South America, but the island is definitely Polynesian. The people look Polynesian, the artwork is Polynesian and the traditions are as well. For me it was the first time I visited a Polynesian island and I found it very interesting.
4. The Wild West town of Hanga Roa
Hanga Roa is the capital of Easter Island, but it has only 3300 inhabitants and it’s more a sleepy village than anything else. It’s very laid back and I liked how the horses added to the Wild West atmosphere. You’ll often see horses tied at poles in front of the local store, patiently waiting for their owners to finish their shopping. And don’t be surprised to see a couple of them parading down the main street, without an owner in sight.
5. Feeling far, far away from the rest of the world
I don’t think I ever felt so far away from the rest of the world as I did on Easter Island. It’s a FIVE-hour flight from the mainland, and French Polynesia is just as far away. One evening we watched the sun set over sea. We could see so far away without any obstruction that we could see the curve of the Earth. Easter Island is truly a magical place!
Horseback riding, renting mountain bikes and hiking are all very well possible in Easter Island and are great options if you want to cover a shorter distance. But if you want to visit the main sights scattered around the island, it’s best to rent a 4WD. The roads are very bad, so you’ll you need your jeep. We rented a little Suzuki Jimny for a day and it was lots of fun to drive around the island. Beware of the horses roaming the roads though!