My name is Elisabetta. I’m Italian and live close to the Cinque Terre. Welcome to my guide on how to visit Easter Island. My passion for travel started in childhood. I grew up watching Indiana Jones movies. Seeing those mysterious places on TV made me want to see them for myself.
My father is a professional photographer. I’m pretty sure that my love for photography comes from him. I have another big passion and that’s the one for foreign languages. That’s the reason why I decided to study Foreign Languages and Literature at university. I can speak five languages now.
One of the languages I can speak is Arabic. I moved to the Middle East to study Arabic and to have the chance to visit many beautiful places. Seeing ‘The Treasury’ of Petra in Jordan with my own eyes was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I felt a little bit like Indiana Jones!
My travels around the world started back then. I returned to Italy after completing my studies and started working for a cruise company. I was mainly working at the office but due to my foreign languages knowledge, I was chosen to start a sales project on the cruise ships.
This gave me the opportunity to work and travel at the same time. Once the project ended, I went back to office life. After a while I realised that I needed some space for myself. So I quit my job and spent some time in Asia. It was here that I started my website – Free Soul on the Road.
When I returned to Italy I met my boyfriend and we moved to a small village close to the Cinque Terre. Now I have a job here that not only allows me to keep creating content for my website and social media but also to travel for up to six months per year. So, I couldn’t be more grateful.
One of the places that I travelled to recently was the amazing Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Let me tell you about my experiences, the best things to see and do, how to visit Easter Island and everything else you need to know.
Inspiration to Visit Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has always been on the top of my travel bucket-list. I’ve always been fascinated by this place. The moai statues, the island’s remoteness and the fact that it’s not easy to reach – these factors all increased its charm, appeal and aura of mystery to me.
I was probably 8 years old when I first heard about this island. I was playing a video game and I noticed in one of the games there were these huge statues. So, I went to ask my father and he told me they were moai statues. Easter Island was a dream place for me ever since that day.
For my 30th birthday, I decided to treat myself with a gift. I booked a trip to Chile and Easter Island. The trip ticked off some incredible places such as the Atacama Desert, Chilean Patagonia and of course Easter Island.
I stayed at Iorana Hotel when I arrived on Easter Island which is close to the main city of Hanga Roa. A few magical days seeing all the places on the island was enough time. However, I would like to visit again to spend some more time on the unique and beautiful island known as Rapa Nui.
Favourite Place on Easter Island – Rano Raraku
I have to admit that I wasn’t very lucky with the weather on Easter Island. It was raining most of the time which limited some of my photography opportunities. But I consider this an extra reason to return one day.
My favourite place was Rano Raraku: the quarry of the moai. This was the place where the moai statues were carved. The quarry contains 397 moai statues which are all at various stages of carving. Walking along the path that leads to the ancient crater was like being in an open-air museum.
The tour of the island started here and I saw the first moai statue in this location. I think that’s why Rano Raraku has a special place in my heart.
Top 10 Attractions/Things To Do
Easter Island is quite small but there really are a lot of things to see and do here. Not only can you enjoy the rich culture and history of the island with the mystical moai statues but also discover the natural wonders of volcanoes, beaches and marine life. Below are my top 10 recommendations.
- Discover the place where the moai were carved at Rano Raraku
- Chill at Anakena – the islands main beach surrounded by palm trees
- Admire the Ahu Tongariki ceremonial platform with 15 restored moai
- Visit Rano Kau – the islands largest volcanic crater
- Hear about the Birdman Competition at the ancient village of Orongo
- Learn more about Rapa Nui’s history by visiting Easter Island’s museum
- Marvel at the seven restored moai on the inland platform at Ahu Akivi
- Watch the sunset at Ahu Tahai – the world’s most amazing sunset spot
- Taste the delicious local fish dishes and attend a cultural dance show
- Attend the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival if visiting in February
There are many beautiful spots to photograph on Easter Island too. At Rano Raraku you can take a nice moai portrait as the statues are super close to the protective fence. I also loved capturing the beauty of Ahu Tongariki where 15 moai are standing in line with the ocean in the background.
I recommend Ahu Tongariki especially if you want to photograph the sunrise as the sun comes up right behind the moai. The beach of Anakena is another stunning spot for photography. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the beauty here as it was raining extremely hard when I visited.
A final location I recommend is the panoramic viewpoint at Orongo. It’s situated in a pretty high position with a beautiful view over the ocean.
How to Visit Easter Island: Flying from Santiago
Easter Island is a small island (163.6 km²) located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The nearest continental point lies in Chile and it’s about 3700 km’s away. Rapa Nui is a special territory of Chile and Hanga Roa is the main town.
Visitors can only reach Easter Island by plane. Mataveri International Airport is the only airport on the island. LAN or LATAM Chile is the only airline that flies with daily connections from Santiago, the capital of Chile. The island is also connected to Tahiti and Pape’ete with one flight out per week.
The Mataveri Airport is right on the doorstep of Hanga Roa. This town is home to roughly 90% of the population with a few more houses spread out over the island. At Hanga Roa you can find hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, mini markets and souvenir shops. It has everything you need.
Easter Island’s economy is mainly based on tourism which has increased significantly in recent years. There are many local tour operators who offer tours and special experiences on the island such as stargazing at night and horse riding through the rugged island terrain.
Meeting the Wonderful Rapa Nui People
Half of Easter Island’s population descends from the first inhabitants, the Rapa Nui people. The other half are descended from all over the world. The Rapa Nui are fantastic. I found them to be fierce and proud of their origins – willing to share with visitors the importance of culture and tradition.
They are aware of their land’s uniqueness and are careful about its preservation. For this reason, the Rapa Nui are sensitive to pollution issues – especially regarding plastic and micro-plastics in the ocean. It was nice to see people connected to their origins and so in love with their native land.
If you get the chance make sure you interact with locals and make some new friends. You will be blown away by their warmth and friendliness.
Amazing Memories from my Visit to Easter Island
I had two really special memories from my visit to Easter Island. The first one was from one of the first moments I spent on the island. I was wandering around the small harbour when I heard a man calling out. He was speaking in Spanish and was asking me to come to him.
He was saying: “Aqui hay tortugas” which translates to “there are turtles here”. So I approached the man and looked into the water. There they were – tens of sea turtles swimming close to the shore. It was surreal!
The second moment that really sticks to mind was when I first saw the moai at Rano Raraku. Actually being on Easter Island was a dream come true for me. It was kind of hard to believe that what I was experiencing was real. A part of me was afraid of waking up from this beautiful dream.
Then I decided to ask a guy who was touring the island with me to take a picture of me with the moai in the back. When I looked at the camera and saw the picture, I realised that I wasn’t dreaming and that I was actually there. Some tears of happiness dropped from my eyes at that moment.
Final Tips for your Visit to Easter Island
For people looking to visit Easter Island I recommend at least 4-5 days to make the most of your time. You should also budget accordingly because prices on the island can get quite high especially for food. Most things are imported to Easter Island which sort of justifies the expense.
You don’t need to worry too much about language barriers as most Rapa Nui can speak English. If you can speak Spanish then that’s certainly an advantage as many locals can speak it fluently due to their ties with Chile.
Despite being a remote island, Easter Island is still extremely popular. Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the island every week so be prepared to find some of the more popular spots a bit crowded.
During the peak season it could be a good idea to visit the famous sites early in the morning. And last but not least, be respectful. You’ll be walking in an open-air museum. So respect the rules, follow the advice written on every sign, don’t touch the moai and keep the right distance from them.
Thanks for reading my travel guide on how to visit Easter Island. I hope it has helped you with some practical tips for your visit. You will totally fall in love with this mysterious and staggeringly beautiful place!