Have you ever dreamed of visiting the official or unofficial wonders of the world? Machu Pichu, Petra, the Pyramids…Easter Island?
Well I do and did. From the time I was given a coffee table-style National Geographic book as a tween, I dreamed of visiting the most mysterious places, one of which was Easter Island – the island with the mystical, still unexplainable statues called Moai.
Finally, after many years it was time to go. I actually booked and cancelled, changed my travel dates a few times, but eventually made the journey.
It was hands down one of the easiest and most enjoyable trips I have ever taken. I had no idea what to expect and even got a typhoid shot as I worried about how wild this tiny, mysterious island in the middle of the Pacific ocean might be.
It turns out it was and is the perfect amount of wild mixed with modern day amenities. With cruise ships that regularly dock for a day or two and a nice array of basic to luxury accommodation, an airport and a rather nice country club, Isla de Pascua is as cozy and luxurious as you’re willing to pay.
Though not big, there is a commercial centre with cultural dance and music shows, shops, restaurants, sports equipment-scuba diving, surfing, fishing- lessons and rentals, banks, schools and a post office.
If you couldn’t easily see the pacific ocean from almost every angle you could conclude that you were in any idyllic small town or suburb anywhere.
However, upon entering the national park, you realize you are somewhere very special. Somewhere unlike anything you will ever see anywhere else. After you pay the park fee which I believe was approximately 35 USD, you are free to roam the park for five days. How do you get around?
You can walk, bike, horseback ride, rent a car, or take a guided tour chaperoned from Moai site to site in a small shuttle bus. As a chronic and habitual walker, I chose to walk most days and took one guided tour. I loved every moment of it and pinched myself a few times as I walked along the road by the ocean past grazing horses and cows amazed and humbled that my life had brought me to that moment.
I went alone at 38…one of the best gifts I ever gave…myself…
This mysterious island is the perfect place for your next vacation.
Easter Island is located in the pacific ocean near Chile. It is a territory of Chile but has its own strong cultural identity. The island is called Rapa Nui, and its native people are called The Rapanui. It is well known for its many ancient statues called Moai. Some are found in clusters or lines, others scattered seemingly haphazardly over hills or on flat areas closer to the ocean waterline.
Although there are many Moai sites and I actually ran out of time and didn’t make it to Anakena (one of the most famous) there is still much of the island that is not accessible to tourists or in some cases, locals. These areas remain shrouded in secrecy as there is no indication on the average tourist map what is actually out there.
This island is very safe and attracts tourists in all capacities. Scientists, solo surfers, backpackers, newlyweds, families, tour groups, and cruise ship day-trippers are just some of the travelers that have made the journey to this Island Oasis. I hope to take my family back there one day and share this magical paradise with them.
In no particular order, here is a roundup of random information that will make your visit even better.
1) Moai passport stamps are only available from the post office…and the post office only has certain hours. I missed out…but now have another reason to go back one day.
2) There are dogs everywhere! Many horses and cows are meandering about as well, but they don’t want to be bothered. The dogs, on the other hand, move solo and in packs, scrap with each other and follow tourists looking for food.
I had one dog that stayed with me all day as I walked to the caves and one of the Moai sites. Another dog followed me to church, waited outside, and then back to my B&B, hoping for some food. So if you are not a big animal fan, you might want to drive instead of walk.
3) Although this island is seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it is quite modern. I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent water pressure and temperature of my shower, the many shops and services, and the generally busy, upbeat vibe.
4) There are some very talented musicians and dancers, who star in the cultural shows in the evenings but hang out during the day serving up bbq on the main road during the day. It’s a lot of people standing around and a lot of these packs of dogs fighting each other and trying to get scraps of food.
The whole scene was a bit overwhelming, and as a solo female traveler, I was intimated. I walked by them a few times on my way to the beach with my ukulele on my back, and a few of these locals tried to say hi and enquire about my ukulele. Next time, I will stop and chat.
5) The cultural shows are amazing! I only went for one night. Next time, I will go at least three times.
6) There are many Moai sites to see. I didn’t get to see all of them because I ran out of time. Next time, I will give myself at least 7 days to see the sites.
Easter Island has a super cute airport and most accommodations that offer a pickup service will greet you with a lei and a tiki tour around the downtown part of the island.
7) Only Rapa Nui natives can own land on the island – everyone else is leasing. This is great and ensures that the locals maintain their land rights and are not exploited or unable to stay on the island due to foreign, even Chilean business interests.
8) It’s actually much cheaper to eat at the restaurants than to purchase food from the local supermarket. I’m not sure if this is because much of the food is coming over by ship from the mainland or if I paid “tourist prices” but I ate better for less at restaurants like Club Sandwich and others along the commercial main street.
9) I am spiritual but certainly not someone who is overly sensitive, but I do think this island has something magical and otherworldly about it.
If you have any other questions about visiting Easter Island, let me know! Otherwise, I hope you go and experience this wonder magical place for yourself.