Polynesian corner of Chile in the remote South PacificWe hesitate to use a platitude, but Easter Island (Rapa Nui) really is a unique place. Isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a 5 hour flight from Santiago on mainland Chile, this tiny pimple of volcanic origin, first populated by Polynesians from the west, has become a mesmeric destination for visitors and low-key, controlled tourism is now its main source of income.
Once densely forested and fertile, the rugged, hilly island supported a prosperous population which had plenty of free time in which to sculpt the enigmatic moai, or giant stone heads, for which the island is most famous. The landscape is now covered by rocky, treeless and unproductive grasslands, beautiful in its gaunt and haunting way; its coast defined by rocky coves and the occasional sparkling white beach.
A visit to Easter Island is usually combined with a holiday in Chile, Peru (there are new flights from Lima) or Argentina, or en route to destinations beyond such as Tahiti and Australia.
We never receive negative feedback about Easter Island: clients are enchanted by the welcoming people, so proud of their culture and traditions; the archaeological sites – which in addition to the moai include cave paintings and petroglyphs - in their unspoilt natural settings, the balmy, temperate climate, the hikes and bike rides - both gentle and challenging.
We recommend a stay of around four days best to appreciate what the island has to offer. There is only one town, Hanga Roa, and just a couple of hotels to choose from - the best being the relatively luxurious explora Rapa Nui and the Altiplanico - and a number of fairly basic guest houses. There is no public transport, you can hire vehicles to explore (mostly jeeps) but we do not advise this as it is not possible to get comprehensive insurance. However we can offer a choice of guided excursions that will take you to the main sites and pretty beaches such as Anakena. Visitors to Easter Island are required to pay a US$60 per person fee (in cash) upon arrival which covers entry to these attractions.
You can visit Easter Island year round. The subtropical climate is maritime influenced, temperatures year round range from 16 to 26 degrees and it can rain a little at any time. You might be attracted by the Tapati cultural festival, with Polynesian music, dance and contests – in 2013 it takes place during the first week of February.
I recommend the walk to Hanga Oteo, the longest trek at 13.5km. Follow the coastline from Te Peu to Anakena beach, stopping to view ahu platforms and toppled moai en route. The views are fantastic and it's great to arrive at the inviting white sand beach and have a swim before your picnic lunch.
David Nichols, Product Manager
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To visit Easter Island before or after a highlights tour of Chile or a trip crossing ther Andes from Argentina.
Now there are direct flights from Lima to Easter Island, you can combine in one a heady holiday the ruins at Machu Picchu in the Andes and the stone head statues of Easter Island in our new Peru and Easter Island short holiday
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Most of the moai heads face inland
White sand subtropical beaches on Easter Island
The scale of the moai statues is staggering