Besides Machu Picchu, another place we really wanted to visit was Easter Island or Rapa Nui. It’s not a cheap destination and meant that we had to give the birds in Galapagos and insects in Amazon a miss. Maybe next time.
We stayed for 5 days, but because the island is really small, 3 days is actually more than enough. We managed to visit all the main sites in our rental car and also caught the sunrise and sunset.
The locals seem really relaxed and Darren pointed out that most guys on the island, usually shirtless, look incredibly fit! At first, we thought it’s because of all the biking and surfing they do, but later heard that the island has a yearly king and queen contest where to be crowned king, you’ll have to take part in and win a physically demanding competition.
Just a short walk from the centre of town is Ahu Tahai. There are a few Moais there with the most famous being Ko Te Riku, the only one with restored eyes. We went back a couple of times to get good pictures.
If you want to spend some time at the beach, you’ll have to drive to Anakena. There you’ll find Ahu Nau Nau. Several Moais have their hair up, which look like hats. We didn’t spend much time at the beach because it was a super hot day.
Instead, we visited Ahu Akivi which has seven identical Moais. It’s interesting to note they are the only statues that look out towards the Pacific Ocean, the others face the island.
Of all the sites, our favourite was definitely Rano Raraku. You’ll need to purchase and show your park ticket, and you can only enter once. The statues were carved here before being shifted (locals say they “walked”) to various parts of the island. We saw some really huge ones. A ranger also mentioned that there are many more hidden Moais waiting to be unearthed, so we were actually standing on top of them.
We went to Rano Raraku after catching the sunrise over Tongariki which has the largest collection of 15 standing Moais. They actually toppled twice, but were later restored and erected by archeologists. There are other areas on the island like Ahu Akahanga where the statues are still lying down, waiting to be restored.
Domestic flights from Santiago to Rapa Nui cost about USD $500 per person. Once you get there, you’ll also need to purchase expensive national park tickets in town, CLP $54.000 or USD $80 for foreigners (they recently increased the price). The park rangers do ask for and check your tickets at the main sites, specifically Rano Raraku.
Where to Sleep
We knew we needed a place with a fully equipped kitchen because food in Easter Island is expensive. Our Airbnb host also helped us with our car and laundry. As Dani lived just next to us, she was always available if we needed anything. We enjoyed quite a few laughs with her!