Easter Island, or Rapa Nui in the local language, everyone has already heard about it for sure. This island is in all the great travelers’ mind, the most adventurous ones! It is part of these mythical islands, that everyone dreams to be able one day to set foot there and see these famous “moaïs”, of which we still ignore many things, and above all how they were carried there! Being now a French Polynesia inhabitant, I had the opportunity last year to go to Easter Island for a week of vacation! What a great happiness, what a joy to be able to discover this island. This article explains the things to do (and things to see!) on Easter Island while traveling or on vacations! You will realize that there are not only the Easter Island Moaïs (the famous stone statues)!
As I write this article, I realize that we didn’t take the time, or even had the time, to do all the things listed below. This could be an opportunity to come back a second time, who knows? Note that Easter Island is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is obviously one of the main things to do on Easter Island, and certainly the object of the visit of all the tourists passing through the island: seeing these archeological carvings. There are many sites, of varying sizes and interests. This will be the subject of a complete article listing more or less known sites on the island. Some of them require renting a vehicle (car, scooter, motorcycle, etc.). Others are located near the main village, Hanga Roa, and are easily accessible on foot.
In the meantime, here are some remarkable sites:
The Rano Raraku site, the famous quarry of the island
Ahu Tongariki, the site of the 15 standing Moaï statues
Punau Pau: the quarry of the red hats of the moaïs (Pukao)
There are many others, which I will present in another article.
- Anakena beach: it is the most famous white sand beach of the island. The latter, in the northeast of the island, is partly known to have been the first landing place of the Polynesians when they discovered the island. The access to the beach is easily done by road, by crossing a superb coconut grove allowing to reach a line of Moaïs which welcome you on this heavenly beach! Take the time to discover the site of this beach. You can walk on the right side of the beach, along the coastline and observe horses. Not to be missed! Note there are some snacks next to the beach to eat.
- Ovahe Beach: famous for its pink sands resulting from the erosion of the same-color cliff, this beach is accessible from the on-site parking lot, after a 15-minute walk. You will appreciate this little stroll along the coast that leads to this beautiful beach. A swim here is appreciated!
At the southwestern end of the island is the old village of Orongo. The cult of the ancestors, represented by the Moaïs, ended around the XIV and XV centuries. The cult of “Make-Make”, also known as “The Bird Man”, appeared then.
A religious ceremony took place every year as a ritual on the site of the small town of Orongo. Each clan representative sent a selected one, who had to jump over the cliff and swim to the Motu Nui islet. A nest of black tern (“Manutera”) was then chosen. The first egg laid had to be hand-carried back to the king after swimming the return path and climbing the cliff overlooking the site. He thus became “Tangata manu”, the birdman.
The site shelters today beautiful ruins of the village, Petroglyphs. We can enjoy wonderful sights on the Motu Nui islet.
I must admit that I did not complete the trek to the summit Maunga Tereveka, but all tourist agencies and local guides offer this trek. According to the information I have, you can do the hike alone without any worries and enjoy a magnificent 360° panorama on the island.
Visiting some caves is one of the things to do on Easter Island. We visited one or two of them during our walks on the island, and it was quite nice. Ask at the place you stay or at the tourist office to know which caves to visit!
I haven’t dived on Easter Island either, but from what I’ve read and heard, it’s a pretty nice experience to do. You can also observe a Moaï that has been put in depth for the needs of a movie. It has since been left.
The Orca Diving Center club comes back very often as a reference club in stories about Easter Island.
This is one of the only museums on the island (if you don’t count the tiny one in the village of Orongo). It partly retraces the origins, histories and different theories about Easter Island. A very nice 1-hour soaking in culture of the island.
We hesitated to participate in a dance show. Rightly or wrongly, we’ll never know, but everyone advises it. So, if you feel like discovering the traditional dances of Easter Island, several places in town offer dance shows! You just have to walk into the tourist streets of Hanga Roa to find your happiness!
And yes, a little bit of food because eating empanadas is clearly one of the things to do on Easter Island, at least in my view. I don’t know South America for the moment and therefore didn’t know the dish! I frankly loved eating those donuts filled with anything and everything. You will find them with meat, vegetables, seafood, etc.
It’s really cheap and I find it perfect for lunch!
Finally, the last thing to do on Easter Island is to go for a ride to the Rano Kau Volcano. We pass in front of it and reach it by the site of Orongo. The view at the edge of this crater of more than 1.5 km in diameter is breathtaking. There is a path that apparently goes around the volcanic crater. I did not test this walking-tour personally, but I think it is a thing to do!
That’s it for my Top 10 things to do on Easter Island!
To get to Easter Island, there are several possibilities depending on your place of departure:
- From the island of Tahiti: there is a flight once a week, it is quite simple and “relatively economical” (for French Polynesia). The normal fare is about 50 000 fr, or 400€ round trip. But it is possible to find cheaper if you look carefully.
If you want to find the cheapest flights from Papeete to Easter Island, you can look here.
- From Chile: there are direct flights several times a week from Santiago. For cheap flights you can look here. Count about 250€ round trip, at least.
If you planning your trip to Easter Island, try to choose the best season. The island has a subtropical climate, meaning that the seasons are reversed compared to the European continent or the US. The coldest months are therefore the months of July/August (southern winter). Conversely, the hottest months are January and February. Compared to Tahiti, Easter Island is much cooler.
To avoid the relative “tourist crowds”, I advise to come, as in French Polynesia, in the off-seasons (the months of April-May and September-October). Note that the evenings and nights can be very cool – therefore, bring sweaters!
Rainfall can be considered as average with about 1000 mm/year. There is no real rainy season, and the rain is more or less distributed throughout the year.
Everyone will have an opinion on the subject, and travel agencies will advise not to stay more than 3 days. Personally, I find that it is too short, way too little to appreciate all the atmosphere of the island and to take your time.
In three days, you will run from site to site, and will not have time to really appreciate the island. I stayed one week on the island and it was great. With a little hindsight, staying there a few more days would have been not so bad for diving, and doing some hiking.
So, I advise you 1 week minimum, if you can.
I had personally booked in a guesthouse (Cabanas Moenga) because there was a promotion during the period we were there. It was nice, very simple, enough for my taste.
We had found other great offers on Booking.com. I advise you to do the same and take a look at the ongoing promotions. There is a very large choice for Easter Island. Be careful however to check the location of the pension. Ideally, choose something not too far from the city center.
Note that there are campsites on Easter Island for those traveling on a small budget. It is also possible to rent equipment on the spot.
Here are some travel tips and specific recommendations regarding where to eat there. In my opinion, the food there is very good, and it is clearly one of the things you’ll enjoy on Easter Island!
- You will find a lot of snacks at Hanga Roa offering empanadas at low prices. This is an ideal solution for those who visit the island on a small budget,
- For economic travelers, you can find everything you need to cook at the village market, which is full of many products (meat, fish, vegetables, etc.). This is perfect if you have a small kitchenette available where you sleep,
- For those who wish to enjoy the food on their visit to Easter Island, here are a few restaurants that I have personally tested:
- Au bout du Monde: I ate three times in this very good restaurant which mixes local and French cuisine. The ceviche, tuna with curry sauce or foie gras were particularly excellent. The service is impeccable and the setting magical, facing the ocean. I recommend it with my eyes closed.
- Casa Esquina Isla de Pascua: We ate several times in this small restaurant, situated on the corner of two streets. The reception is nice and the service very fast. I particularly recommend this small restaurant for its empanadas and sandwiches, either to eat lunch or to dine.
- Kai Sushi RapaNui: If you have a desire for sushi, this is the restaurant you have to test. Very good welcome from the staff and many choices of very original sushi (bacon, avocado). To know that their sushis are much bigger than usual.
- Haka Honu: I ate twice in this restaurant, very well located by the seaside. The two meals were excellent, the welcome was very good and no particular waiting. I recommend it.
So, I hope you enjoyed this article about Easter Island and that you discovered other things to do there. If you are on a trip around the world, and passing through Oceania, I suggest you to go and see our itinerary in New Zealand, on the North Island.
To speak frankly, for a traveler’s blog like I created, being able to talk about Easter Island is quite nice, isn’t it?
See you soon,