Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands of the world. The closest country is Chile which is a five-hour-flight away. On the island there’s only one inhabited town named Hanga Roa. Inhabitants of the Easter Island know Spanish but they speak the indigenous language Rapa Nui when they talk to each other.
There are still a lot of mysteries about the history of the island and the famous Moai. Why and how did the indigenous people form these giant statues of stone? How did they carry them? Experts have different theses about when and why they were created. The legend says that they represent worshipped ancestors that passed away. They are always situated near the coast facing the island and they should symbolise a connection between this world and the other side.
When my sister and her boyfriend came to visit me in Chile in December we decided to spend Christmas on Easter Island. I was so excited to travel there because of its uniqueness.
The flights are quite costly and to be allowed to enter the national park of the island you have to pay a fee of 70€. Everything else like rental car, supermarkets, accommodation, etc. is also way more expensive than on the mainland.
Our Airbnb host was supposed to pick us up at the airport but apparently he forgot about us. After everyone else had already left the airport a nice woman approached us and offered us a ride. She asked where we needed to go and to our surprise she knew where to drive when we told her the name of our host. The woman explained us that in Hanga Roa almost everyone knows each other. She was Chilean but fell in love with a Rapa Nui and moved to the island. Rapa Nui is the name of the indigenous people on Easter Island, it’s the name of their language and also the name of the island in their language. The woman told us that she loves the easy-going island life where stress isn’t part of the vocabulary and everyone trusts each other. Apparently no-one locks their door or car on the island because there’s no crime. When we arrived to the apartment she refused to take money for the ride and simply wished us a nice holiday. She said it was important for her to give tourists a good first impression of the island and that we should call her if we needed anything else. Once at the apartment our host apologised and offered us a rental car at a special rate as compensation.
The island is extremely beautiful and green. When we were there it rained almost everyday for one or two hours, mostly in the mornings. So we never actually knew what weather to expect because within half an hour it could change from sunshine to wind and rain. Generally the weather was nice but very humid.
We had a car for three days and went to all the beautiful places we knew about. There’s a sandy beach called “Anakena”. Since we were there in December, which is summer in South America, we could enjoy the beach and go swimming. Some of the most impressive sights were Ahu Tongariki, where 15 Moai statues are next to each other, and Rano Raraku, where unfinished stone heads are spread over a hill.
On Christmas we decided to visit the mass in the only church on the island. It was completely different to any mass we had ever seen before. The priest was wearing a big feather crown and he was talking in Rapa Nui. Most girls and some women were wearing colourful dresses and flower crowns. The visitors of the mass sang songs in their language and all the people participated actively. The church was decorated with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The trip to Easter Island was completely unique. No place on earth has a similar cultural heritage. Learning about the mysterious Moai and the indigenous people was extremely interesting. The typical island-vibe and the relaxed lifestyle are amazing and I loved the colourful bars and restaurants. To my surprise the touristic sites were not crowded at all. Four to five days on the island are enough though, as it’s pretty small and except for visiting the famous sights there’s not so much to do.
- If you’re on a budget, buy food in Chile and take it to the island. On the island everything is 2-3 times more expensive.
- Buy souvenirs in jail. There’s a small jail on the island. The prisoners’ task is to manufacture souvenirs like small Moai which are sold to tourists in a small shop. They are handmade and cheaper than in the souvenir shops.
- In the post office you can get an Easter Island stamp for your passport.
- Rent a car. There’s a few busses that take tourists around but the schedule is very limited.
- Go to a mass. I’m not sure if it’s always like it was on Christmas, but if so, it’s definitely worth a visit.
- Watch the sunset at Ahu Tahai.
- Watch the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki.
- Download an offline map and do your research before getting there. Internet doesn’t work properly. Wifi in hotels and restaurant doesn’t work well either and there’s only one official wifi hotspot.