Most, if not all of the commerce on this island occurs in the port town of Hanga Roa. There are a number of small shops geared toward tourists, as well as an open market. If you join an organized tour, expect to see the same souvenir-sellers at each site selling the same items – generally a plethora of moai-inspired trinkets. The official currency is the Chilean Peso, but, unlike on the mainland, transactions can be performed in US Dollars.
When buying souvenirs it is best to use cash. Often the vendors will have a very high minimum charge or will tack on a service fee for using a credit card (about 10-20%). This is only if the vendor accepts credit cards at all; many small vendors will only accept cash.
At least four ATMs are available on the island: one from Banco Estado on Tu’u maheke, Hanga Roa, which only accepts Cirrus, Maestro and Mastercard branded cards but NOT Visa. The other one inside the bank Santander, a bit further, on Policarpo Toro, which accepts Visa, Cirrus, Maestro and Mastercard. There’s also an ATM in the departure hall of the airport, and also at least one at the gas station near the airport.
The local bank can do cash advances against a Visa card, but the bank opening times are limited and the lines can be long.
There are around 25 restaurants catering to tourists on the island. A few can be found close to the dock in Hanga Roa, with a few others scattered in the surrounding areas. Menus tend to be limited, as most of the food on the island needs to be imported. The range of fish, though, is considerable – as is true for most of Chile. There are also a few “supermarkets” where visitors can pick up snacks, limited sundries, booze, etc.
Like the souvenir vendors on the island many restaurants do not accept credit cards or will have a high minimum charge. Also tipping is appreciated but should be done in moderation, usually spare change or less than 10% works.
As a result of the increased amount of tourists, some of the restaurants may be a kind of “tourist trap,” so don’t hesitate to ask your guide or your host for advice where to go. At the end of the main street walking towards the east, are several food stands, which prepare hot dogs with many toppings, chicken sandwiches, to slightly more elaborate meals such as mashed potatoes and steak, in a pleasant outdoor seating area. from 1200 to 3000 CLP. Open until 22:00.
Pisco, a hard alcohol made from fermented grapes, is the unofficial drink of the island. Try a pisco sour, which is pisco mixed with lemon juice. Another common cocktail is the piscola – pisco and coke. Drinking pisco straight is possible, as it has less of a kick than Vodka, although Chileans would not advise it.
Rapa Nui Mythology
The most important myths are:
– Tangata manu, the Birdman cult which was practiced until the 1860s.
– Makemake, an important god.
– Aku-aku, the guardians of the sacred family caves.
– Moai-kava-kava a ghost man of the Hanau epe (long-ears.)
– Hekai ite umu pare haonga takapu Hanau epe kai noruego, the sacred chant to appease the aku-aku before entering a family cave.
Stone work The Rapa Nui people had a Stone Age civilization and made extensive use of several different types of local stone:
– Basalt, a hard, dense stone used for toki and at least one of the moai.
– Obsidian, a volcanic glass with sharp edges used for sharp-edged implements such as Mataa and also for the black pupils of the eyes of the moai.
– Red scoria from Puna Pau, a very light red stone used for the pukao and a few moai.
– Tuff from Rano Raraku, a much more easily worked rock than basalt, and was used for most of the moai.
The large stone statues, or moai, for which Easter Island is world-famous, were carved from 1100‚ 1680 CE (rectified radio-carbon dates). A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections so far. Although often identified as “Easter Island heads”, the statues have torsos, most of them ending at the top of the thighs, although a small number of them are complete, with the figures kneeling on bent knees with their hands over their stomachs. Some upright moai have become buried up to their necks by shifting soils.
Almost all (95%) moai were carved out of distinctive, compressed, easily worked solidified volcanic ash or tuff found at a single site inside the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. The native islanders who carved them used only stone hand chisels, mainly basalt toki, which lie in place all over the quarry. The stone chisels were sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled. The volcanic stone was first wetted to soften it before sculpting began, then again periodically during the process. While many teams worked on different statues at the same time, a single moai took a team of five or six men approximately one year to complete. Each statue represented the deceased head of a lineage.
Only a quarter of the statues were installed, while nearly half remained in the quarry at Rano Raraku and the rest sat elsewhere, probably on their way to final locations. The largest moai ever raised on a platform is known as “Paro”. It weighs 82 tons and is 9.8m (32.15ft) long. Several other statues of similar weight were transported to several ahu on the North and South coasts. It is not yet known how they transported the statues. Possibilities include employing a miro manga erua, a Y-shaped sledge with cross pieces, pulled with ropes made from the tough bark of the hau-hau tree, and tied around the statue’s neck. Anywhere from 180 to 250 men were required for pulling, depending on the size of the moai. Some 50 of the statues were re-erected in modern times. One of the first was on Ahu Ature Huke in Anakena beach in 1958. It was raised using traditional methods during a Heyerdahl expedition.
In 2011, a large moai statue was excavated from the ground, suggesting that the statues are much older and larger than previously thought.
– Tukuturi, an unusual bearded kneeling moai.
– Two ahu at Hanga Roa. In foreground Ahu Ko Te Riku (with a pukao on its head). In the mid-ground is a side view of an ahu with five moai showing retaining wall, platform, ramp and pavement.
– Ahu Akivi, one of the few inland ahu, with the only moai facing the ocean.
– View of Rano Raraku and Pacific Ocean.
Adventure To Easter Island • Locations & Activities