To See and Do
The biggest tourist attractions on Easter Island are, of course, the Moai. Please note that the Moai are archaeological features and should be treated with care as they are far more fragile than they seem. Often Moai will be placed upon ceremonial platforms and burials called Ahu. Do not walk on the Ahu as it is an extremely disrespectful gesture. Even if you see others walking on the Ahu do not do so yourself.
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Two exceptional sites are the volcanic craters of Rano Kau and Rano Raraku. The slightly inland quarry at “Rano Raraku” is where the moai carvings were born, out of the hillside of the volcanic rock where hundreds of labourers must have carved full-time. This 300 foot volcano remnant provided the stones for the great figures and is where a visitor can see various stages of the carving, as well as scattered partially-finished figures. A climb to the left side of the crater, over the top, and into the bowl, is well worth it. Hiking to the opposite lip of the crater, where the most moai are found, is one of the most dramatic sites on the island.
Similarly, Rano Kau is the remains of a volcanic cinder cone, which like Rano Raraku, is filled with fresh rainwater and has a mottled unearthly appearance that is breathtaking. The entry fee is 60 US dollars total for the two sites. Make sure you keep your ticket.
Easter Island features two white sand beaches. Anakena, on the north side of the island, is an excellent shorebreak bodysurfing location with a bit of north swell. Even the 1″ waves barrel (it’s also possible to surf in the harbor at Hanga Roa and many of the locals do so). The second beach is a hidden gem called Ovahe. Found along the southern shore of the island near Ahu Vaihu (along the road from Hanga Roa to Ahu Akahanga), this beautiful and desolate beach is much larger than that at Anakena and is surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. Note of caution: the path leading down to the beach is somewhat treacherous and unstable and best reached by foot – driving off-road (contrary to the misguided and somewhat callous actions of some tourists) on most of the island is illegal anyway.
Scuba diving and snorkelling is popular near the islets Motu Nui and Motu Iti (well known for “The bird man culture”) which are located about 1 km south of the island. There are three shops where it is possible to rent the equipment and from there get on a guided tour to the islets: Atariki Rapa Nui, Orca and Mike Rapu Diving.
An often overlooked but particularly fascinating and “other-wordly” aspect of Easter Island is its extensive cave systems. While there are a couple of “official” caves that are quite interesting in their own right, there is also real adventure to be had in exploring all of the numerous unofficial caves on the island, most of which are found near Ana Kakenga. While the openings to most of these caves are small (some barely large enough to crawl through) and hidden (amid a rather surreal lava strewn field that has been likened to the surface of Mars), many of them open up into large and inhibitingly deep and extensive cave systems. Note of caution: these caves can be dangerous in that quite a few run extremely deep. A person left without a torch/flashlight will be immersed in utter blackness with little hope of finding their way out soon…if ever. The caves are also extremely damp and slippery (the ceilings in some have collapsed over time from water erosion).
There are a few tour companies that do guided tours to Easter Island including Adventure Life, Globus Journeys, and Abercrombie & Kent. This is a wonderful way to explore the best of the island and its culture without having to worry about breaking any local rules. A well-respected tour guide can show you aspects of the location and culture that you might otherwise never see or understand.
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Adventure To Easter Island • Locations & Activities