"Easter Island and the Stone Heads" Top 5 Page for this destination Easter Island by easyoar

Easter Island Travel Guide: 632 reviews and 1,527 photos

Brief Introduction

When we landed at Easter Island, it was raining, the wind was blowing a gale and things looked pretty miserable. We had just flown from Tahiti, and for most of the journey, as we had looked out of the aeroplane's window, there had been thick dark clouds beneath us and they all seemed to be heading towards Easter Island. As I love taking photographs, this was a disaster. The wind was blowing so hard you couldn't even stand still to take a photo and the rain was coming down, and salt spray was lashing in off the sea and all over my lenses!

The one week we were staying on the Island looked like it was going to be a wasted week! When we spoke to our hostess Bicky (a local Rapa Nui - Rapa Nui is the Islanders name for themselves and the Island), she said we would have to wait for the wind to change direction, and then everything would be OK. 24 hours later she was still repeating this. Then suddenly the wind did change, and she was right, the sun came out and everything was lovely.

The one week we had booked flew by, and we would both love to go back as soon as we can. It's not a big Island, but there is so much to do and see (check out my Must See tips), and the Islanders are so welcoming and friendly, you quickly feel you have known them for years. If you go, don't stay in a hotel, stay with a local - see my tip on this. You will get much more out of it that staying in a souless hotel.

Easter Island is miles from anywhere (around 4-5 hours flying time to the nearest airports - those being Santiago and Tahiti - the only places that fly there). It is home to the famous stone heads (moai), many of which have now been re-erected after every single one had been torn down during inter-tribal conflict many years ago. One of the fascinating things about Easter Island is just how much of its history still remains a mystery. There are plenty of theories as to why they carved the moai (all from a quarry in the middle of the island) and then dragged them over the hilly terrain to erect them on alters (ahu) scattered all over the island, but no-one really knows for sure.

The Easter Islanders (in their own language they are Rapa Nui) have an ancient name for their island - "Te Pito O Te Henua". This translates into the Navel of the World. This indicates that the Islanders thought Easter Island was at the centre of the world. To the early Islanders, no other land existed – and no other people. So you can imagine their surprise and amazement when the first Europeans dropped in one day in 1722. It must have felt like Aliens landing in the centre of London.

Easter Island is seen as a land that mirrors what may become of Earth. The people there went into self destruct mode. It started innocently enough when the natives started building stone figures near their camps. It was only recently discovered that these stone figures (moai) had eyes. It is believed that the islanders thought that these figures looked over their camp and protected them. All of the tribes on the island started to build these figures. In order to transport them from the quarry, the islanders had to chop down trees as rollers. Such was the frenzy of the islanders to build more and more and bigger and bigger statues that they finally ended up chopping down every tree on the island. They suddenly found themselves trapped. No wood meant no boats. War started, Europeans brought plague, and enslaved the islanders. At one point only a handful of islanders remained.

In order to bring some stability, the birdman cult started. Each year, just as the sooty terns started to hatch their young, a competition occurred. Each tribe sent forward their best athlete to compete in a race. The athletes had to climb down a sheer rock wall to the sea. Swim two miles out in shark infested water to a small islet. There they competed with the other athletes to find the first egg and bring it back. Should it break tough luck. The winner (assuming there was one) was the first athlete to bring back an intact egg and present it to their chief. The chief then became king of the island for a year. The athlete was presented with a virgin (specially selected) who had been placed in a tiny cave for several months to whiten her skin (as this was considered highly desirable).

Easter Island only has one town, and it has around 3000 permanent inhabitants, so everyone tends to know everyone else. This results in an almost crime free place, and the visitor is made to feel extremely welcome. Easter Island was 'discovered' by Europeans in 1722 on Easter Sunday - hence its name. The nearest inhabited piece of land is Pitcairn Island, and that is over 1,200 miles away (and that is tiny!). Easter Island is just 50 square miles, but these 50 square miles are packed with over 600 Moai (stone heads), caves, wildlife and other natural treasures. It's a place that is well worth seeing!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lovely scenery, friendly people, photographers dream!
  • Cons:Miles and miles (and yet more miles) from anywhere.
  • In a nutshell:If you like the outdoors, go there!
  • Last visit to Easter Island: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated May 1, 2005
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Reviews (53)

Comments (99)

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jul 18, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    awesome tips on Easter Island - too bad you haven't been on VT recently - I have so many questions, hahaha

  • unaS's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    Thinking of this trip next year. Thanks for all of the great tips. Have saved most of them.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2009 at 10:41 PM

    I had no idea there was so much to do on the island or if there was any life still there. Even if there wasn't, it is still a fabulous place to visit. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure!

  • pure1942's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Really informative page Andy! I am even more excited about my upcoming trip to Easter Island after reading your tips and seeing your pics. THanks for sharing. Brian

  • clueless83's Profile Photo
    Jun 6, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    Great Easter Island page! Seems really fascinating there!

  • jahknee's Profile Photo
    Jun 2, 2008 at 5:55 AM

    I also read Heyerdahl's book a while ago, and although he may have got it wrong about the Inca/S American connection, it inspired me to go there one day. Great blog mate.

  • csordila's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2008 at 6:54 AM

    Andy, you are absolutely lucky that you visited that beautiful place! I have read before some decades the book "Aku Aku" written by Heyerdahl. This was a wonderful buzz for me at that time, likewise than your page now.

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    Nov 4, 2007 at 3:35 PM

    Andy! Did you get lost in one of those caves? Come out! WE miss you. Janet in Athens

  • abvideo's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2007 at 9:46 AM

    great page !

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    Hello, Andy! Thanks for your interesting and lively stories on your pages! The pictures are superb!

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