Easter Island, Isla de Pascua, or Rapa Nui, as the locals call it, is one of the few mystical places on Earth that easily finds a way to your heart and stays there forever! It happened to me. So I’d like to warn you, or, even better, inspire you to visit it too!
How does it feel to visit Isla de Pascua, this little gem in the Pacific?
Easter Island’s warm welcome
The first chance to fall in love with the island comes immediately after you arrive. Mataveri International Airport is ridiculously small and cute. After disembarking, an adorable dog sniffs your suitcase on the one luggage belt they have there. What’s more, your hotel pickup person will welcome you by putting fresh flowers around your neck! I previously thought this was done just on Hawaii and Bahamas :)
If you’re on a cruise and your ship embarks on Easter Island for a few hours it’s definitely worth setting your foot on it but, believe me, a few hours is not enough to absorb the magic of the place and learn the history.
Tiny bit of history
Easter Island has belonged to Chile since 1888. Before that, the complicated history saw Europeans passing through, with oppression and constant clashes with the original Rapa Nui inhabitants. Tribal wars occurred similarly often. The very first settlers who were to become the original Rapa Nui supposedly arrived there from Tahiti. It was around the time when Hawaii was also being first inhabited. Tahitians named the island Rapa Nui, meaning Big Rapa, as it reminded them of another smaller island in Tahiti called Rapa. The name Easter Island comes from the time when a Dutch explorer discovered its seashores on Easter Sunday, in 1722.
Climate & Landscape
The temperatures are moderate year round, so it’s possible to visit even in winter months. But don’t expect hot Polynesian weather either. It does get real warm in summer, you might just not always appreciate the strong winds and the temperature of the ocean.
The ozone layer has become very thin above the location of Easter Island, so visitors will need to use a sunblock with a very high SPF – ideally above 50.
The landscape is hilly, with several volcanoes across the island. Climbing the highest volcano Terevaka to the very top (511m or 1969feet) will offer unprecedented 360° views of the sea surrounding the island. I’ve never seen anything like it (on land).
Getting around Easter Island
Easter Island is only 25 km (15.5 miles) long and 12 km (7.5 miles) wide so it’s easy to rent a car and visit all the interesting destinations featuring Moai, the stone statues. There are also scooters and ATVs (four-wheelers) available for rent. Let me just prepare you for one unusual part of renting a vehicle on Easter Island – no insurance is available!
For sporty people comfortable with riding uphill, bikes are also available. Plus, hikers and fans of Nordic walking can roam the hills and valleys for hours.
Even though Easter Island is one of the most remote corners of the world, it’s not so complicated to get there, especially if you combine it with a trip to Chile. If you feel especially adventurous, you could even continue to Tahiti!
When leaving Easter Island, most likely with a heavy heart, you’ll be gifted by your accommodation host again, this time with a shell necklace or a Moai souvenir, just as a precaution not to forget about the island (as if that was even possible)!
Although Easter Island is a place I can’t imagine living at long-term, I’m sure sometimes… someday… we’ll meet again.
Are you wondering how I managed to write about Easter Island without mentioning the Moai much? The Moai are so magical that they deserve a post on their own! I haven’t mine yet, so I’ll leave you with Corinne’s post on the Moai and the Ahu on Easter Island.
So, are you booking your tickets yet? ;)
If you’ve been to Easter Island already, let us know whether you also absolutely loved it!