From: World Travel Guide
Easter Island is, along with the Galapagos Islands, one of the most mysterious and enchanting places on the planet.
Originally discovered by the West in 1722 it has become famous due to its bizarre and fairly massive head statue sculptures in stone called Moai which recently found further publicity in the Hollywood blockbuster film 'Night at the Museum' with Ben Stiller.
Regarded as being one of the most remote islands on the planet, its original inhabitants the Rapa Nui people (Rapa Nui being its original name taken after the original natives) seem according to archaeological records, to have fallen foul of overpopulation and food scarcity maybe, in this isolated neck of the woods... perhaps an ominous warning to us all here on our bigger 'island in space'... Earth!
Easter Island Travel
There is no public transport on Easter Island however there are plenty of taxi's readily available and walking around Hanga Roa is fairly straightforward. Other options available to you include car, bicycle and motorcycle hire:
Easter Island Weather
The summer months of December, January, February and March offer reasonably hot and humid temperatures often ranging from 60 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
The winter months of June, July and August are fairly mild and cool with temperatures averaging between 59 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
April, May and June often have the greatest amount of rainfall, although tropical rainfall can occur at any time throughout the year.
One of the best ways to get to know this intriguing place is with a guided tour of the island where you'll be taken to the islands atractions to observe not only the Moai but also to admire Petroglyph's, and sites such as the ruined ceremonial housing at Orongo, the Rano Raraku quarry where the Moai were carved. Whilst touring the island you'll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the landscape and get to know the locals... more about Tours of Rapa Nui
There are plenty of places to pick up some superb handicrafts that are totally unique to the island. Hand carved Moai in both stone and wood can be found just about everywhere on the island in a multitude of sizes with prices varying from place to place, in many cases souvenirs are offered at several of the main visiting sites and are often cheaper than you will find within the markets and shops in town, however the detail and craftsmanship of each varies so its worth having a really good look around to find just what your looking for.
Carved Rongorongo tablets and imitations of petroglyphs are also a popular item often replicating carvings from around the island. Other souvenirs such as clothing, jewelry and pottery are also widely found especially at the Mercado Artesanal and the Municipal Market in Hanga Roa which both have plenty of handicrafts on offer. The Anthropological Museum has a small shop with plenty of good quality souvenirs such as books, cd's jewelry and of course a wide selection of Moai.
There are several small restaurants around the island especially around Hanga Roa and you'll find that many of the hotels also have restaurants on site.
There is a good selection of Chilean classics such as the Chilean salad Ensalada Chilena, pastry dishes containing various fillings called Empanadas, a corn dish called Humitas and no end of fresh fish and seafood dishes that also shouldn't be missed. Price and quality of restaurants is ever changing and if you hire a reputable guide to show around the island they will often be able to let you know the best places to go at the current time.
There are plenty of smaller outlets where snacks such as empanadas, sandwiches and pancakes can be purchased as well as street stalls selling fresh fruit produce.
Pisco is one of the favorite drinks on the island and is often served with either lemon to make a Pisco Sour or coke to make a Piscola. Many of the restaurants have a good selection of beverages and the small supermarket type stores in Hanga Roa also have plenty of alcoholic beverages on offer.
There are plenty of hotels and guest houses within the town of Hanga Roa that range from budget to more quality lodging with extra facilities such as swimming pools etc. There is a hotel booking facility at the airport and most proprietors will collect you from the airport often presenting you with a floral necklace upon arrival, giving you quite a welcome to Easter Island. You will often find that tours of the island, hire vehicles and even the best restaurants to go to can all be booked or arranged through your hotel if not already organized.
You will find the Rapa Nui hospitality to be excellent and your stay will most likely be unforgettable, if your lucky at the end of your stay you will be presented with a shell necklace by the hotel proprietor on departure so it can be worth taking a gift ready to offer your host at the end of your stay.
Flora and Fauna
The island is well known for its limited supply of lush vegetation, the native tree to the island toromiro is now extinct largely deforested to aid in the movement of the Moai.
A scattering of Palm trees can be found around the island especially along Anakena beach and there a plenty of banana and other fruit trees around, especially in Hanga Roa. The volcano craters are filled with vegetation in the form of the reed totora and the shrub called Mahute which can be found in various other locations around the island, with grass covering much of the rest of the island.
Large animals such as horses and cattle roam the island having been brought over by visitors to the island and the main birds you'll see are the Frigate Bird, Birds of Prey, Tropic Bird, Finches and Terns.
The nightlife on Easter Island is based around the restaurant bar scene, with many of the restaurants offering lively and entertaining shows performed by the locals who dance and generally entertain customers within the town of Hanga Roa. There is also the opportunity to enjoy a disco, which is a great way to have some fun and get to know the locals as well.
Festivals - Tapati Rapa Nui festival
The annual Tapati Rapa Nui Festival is the biggest organized party on the island and is an incredibly popular event with tourists (so book your accommodation and guided tour early to avoid disappointment).
The festival takes place towards the end of January early February time and celebrates the Rapa Nui's ability to vote in the Chilean presidential elections which first occurred in 1963.
The festival has events and activities happening both day and night and involves just about all the islanders. The event includes lively and colorful traditional dancing and drama re-enactments of their ancestors arrival on the island to sporting events such as the popular Haka Pei competition were individual competitors ride on banana tree trunks that have been strapped together down a steep and often bumpy hillside, the competitor who manages to stay on the longest and go the furthest is the winner, this event is both fun and exhilarating to watch.
Another popular event is the triathlon where competitors wearing not much more than a loin cloth and colorful paint swim, paddle and then run to the finish carrying large bunches of bananas.
The festival concludes with a Festival Queen being chosen and at the end of the festival she is crowned under the moonlight, accompanied by much singing and dancing.
Easter Island Attractions
There whole island of Rapa Nui is an attraction in itself and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its dramatic coastline, volcanic craters and somewhat baron landscape provides the island with a certain air of mystery. The Moai have to take centre stage with or without their Topknots or platforms they remain incredibly impressive and the biggest attraction upon the island. There are Petroglyph's around just about every corner, cave paintings and the ruined ceremonial site at Orongo with its stone walls also makes a fascinating visit... More about Attractions and Tours of Rapa Nui
Easter Island Adventure Travel
With the varied landscape, rugged coastline and crystal clear waters there are plenty of activities from scuba diving, swimming and surfing to hiking up volcanic craters and mountain biking across the undulating terrain in search of Moai... more about Easter Island Adventure Travel