"Easter Island and the Stone Heads" Top 5 Page for this destination Easter Island by easyoar
Easter Island Travel Guide: 628 reviews and 1,507 photos
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: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!
This is Part 2 of my tenuous off the Beaten Path tip for Easter Island. This is the 'Hoa-haka-nanaiai' statue, and it... more travel advice
There is a lot of animal life running wild around Easter Island. Of course one of the results of this is that when an... more travel advice
- Don't Miss The Fresh Seafood!
- See All The enormous 'hats' for the Moai
- See All The rapidly changing weather
- See All Mass on a Sunday in Hanga Roa
- See All Rent a mountain bike
- Buy at the Smaller places
easyoar's Related Pages
Easter Island Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Easter Island - Rapa Nui"
- "Easter Island and the Stone Heads"
- "Mysteries and moai"
- "Rapa Nui - a very special feeling"
- "Easter Island - The Most Remote Frontier On Earth"
- "An Island of Legend, Beauty, and Mystery"
- "wadekorzan's new Easter Island Page"
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- Things to Do in Easter Island
- Hotels in Easter Island
- Transportation in Easter Island
- Nightlife in Easter Island
- Restaurants in Easter Island
- Shopping in Easter Island
- Warnings and Dangers in Easter Island
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