15 Easter Island Facts That Will Surely Amaze You

Easter Island is a place full of mystery and wonder.

It’s largely all about the unknown there but there are also a lot of interesting facts we do know about this place. Below are some facts about Easter Island that will surely amaze you.

There are about 1,000 statues on the island

The Easter Island statues, known as “moai,” are located all around the island and there are lots of them.

In fact, it’s estimated that there are approximately 1,000 moai on the island with new statues still being discovered today.

You’ll find lots of the statues along the coast in various stages of preservation. Some will be standing tall fully restored while others will be lying face down broken up into pieces.

Some are even buried up to their chests with only the (very large) head portion sticking out of the ground!

The statues are bigger than you think

The Easter Island moai are probably bigger than you think.

The average height is roughly 13 feet but some are much larger.

Paro Moai — the largest moai ever successfully raised at an ahu — stood an astonishing 10 meters in height with its ears alone measuring 2 m! They estimate that this thing must weigh 80 tons or more.

Also, in the quarry, there was one moai being built that would’ve stood close to 70 feet tall!

When you consider how far they transported the statues across the island and how large and heavy they were, you truly start to appreciate the ingenuity of the Rapa Nui people.

The statues would come “alive” with white eyes

After a statue would make its way to its final destination near the coast it would often receive the final touch which included white coral eyes being placed in the eye sockets of the statue, creating ‘ariŋa ora or “living face.”

These white eyes gave the moai a completely different look and perhaps represented the ancestors coming back to life in a way that allowed them to watch over the local tribes with supernatural powers.

You can find some of the original coral used for the eyes at the Rapa Nui Museum.

Most if not all statues were toppled over

Initially, the moai statues represented ancestors who had supernatural power to protect their people. But over the years, the people on the island faced tough times including things like starvation and fierce battles over resources and territory.

This ultimately led to them rejecting their stone ancestors and it led to many of the statues being toppled over, with some of them breaking in half in the process. Other natural factors like earthquakes and tsunamis could’ve also caused these to tumble.

Interesting geography facts

Easter Island has some unique and interesting geography.

With New Zealand and Hawaii, it forms one of the corners of the Polynesian Triangle and also is the most eastern part of Oceania. On top of that, it’s the most western point of Chile.

It’s in such a remote spot on the globe that NASA actually set up an emergency landing strip for their space shuttle back in the 1980s!

About 8,000 locals live on Easter Island

Some people are surprised to find out that people actually live on Easter Island but there is a decent sized community with a population of about 8,000 people.

The vast majority of people live in the one main town on the island called Hanga Roa where there is basically one main road running through town. And as you might guess, it’s one of those close-knit island towns where everyone pretty much knows everyone.

It’s practically treeless

Aside from a few tiny groves of palm trees and patches of eucalyptus trees that have been planted on the island, the terrain is largely devoid of trees.

But this is not always been the case. At one point, the island was likely covered in lush greenery by the now extinct palm tree, Paschalococos disperta.

But due to things like invasive species such as the Polynesian rat, fires, tsunamis, and over harvesting by natives, deforestation occurred.

Now, when you explore the island you’ll be hard-pressed to find any shade.

There’s an ancient script no one has been able to decode

There’s a lot of debate on whether or not the scripts of Rongo Rongo — the ancient “language” that has yet to be decoded — was actually a written language.

Regardless of how sophisticated this language actually was, it’s still really cool to see an ancient, undeciphered script. It looks like something straight out of a movie and it’s another artifact you can check out at the museum.

There’s a special species of Easter Island lobster

There’s a special species of lobster (Panulirus pascuensi) that inhabits the waters surrounding Easter Island.

Known as the “Easter Island spiny lobster,” it can grow up to 10 inches long and comes in a dark greenish purple color. It’s also delicious and you can try it out at restaurants like Neptunes.

Easter Island lobster

The island is full of caves

The entire island is volcanic in origin and consists of three extinct coalesced volcanoes. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find an extensive network of lava tubes running underneath the island.

Locals told me these likely number well into the hundreds and natives used a lot of them as places of refuge in times of heightened conflict.

These are some of the coolest caves to explore, especially Ana Kakenga which has natural windows that opens up to the ocean.

Many ahus were astronomically aligned

Many of the moai are placed on top of platforms called ahus. From these platforms, the statues could overlook and protect their local tribes.

Many of these platforms were astronomically aligned like Ahu Tongariki, the largest ahu on the island. It’s oriented to the sunrise on the summer solstice, while others align with the spring and fall equinox. Many other smaller structures were likely aligned with stars as well.

They have some of the darkest skies

You’ll find some of the darkest skies on the planet at Easter Island. They have Bortle 1 skies which are basically as dark as you can get.

This makes the island an ideal spot to stargaze and take astrophotography shots.

For people who live in the northern hemisphere, this is a golden opportunity to see stars and deep sky objects in the southern sky that you can’t normally see. Look up for objects like the Carina nebula, Magellanic Clouds, and the Southern Cross. They will dazzle you!

The 8th wonder of the world

Back in 2007, New 7 Wonders announced the new seven wonders of the world after considering over 100 million votes.

Unfortunately, Easter Island did not make the cut but it’s reported that they came in 8th place, making them a pretty official eighth wonder of the world.

Lots of locations semi-seriously claim to be the “eighth wonder of the world” but Easter Island may be the one spot on the globe that has a pretty valid (factually supported) claim to that title.

Astronomers named a dwarf planet after an Easter Island deity

There are currently five recognized dwarf planets in the solar system:

  • Pluto
  • Eris
  • Ceres
  • Makemake
  • Haumea

Makemake received its name from the creator god in the Rapa Nui mythology, which is just another example of this tiny island having an outsized impact on global culture. Pretty cool.

The farthest stretch of human exploration could be here

If you follow the progression of human migration out of Africa, through Asia, and across the Pacific, Polynesia is usually considered the last region that humans explored and settled.

While some places like New Zealand may have been the final spot that Polynesians arrived at, Easter Island could be considered the endpoint of human exploration in terms of arriving at such a far and remote spot on the globe.

The legend of the ancient Polynesian arrival says that the original explorers arrived at Anakena Beach, which would make a lot of sense because it’s one of the only beaches on the island and it would definitely be the easiest place to land at.

This means that you can now step on the sands that represent one of the farthest stretches of human exploration, which is a pretty mind blowing thing to think about.

Final word

Easter Island is a fascinating place, which you can probably tell by some of the facts above.

Here are some additional articles you may find helpful when preparing for your visit:

Where to Stay on Easter Island: Options for All Budgets

If you are trying to figure out where to stay on Easter island, I have good news for you: it’s not very hard to narrow down your options and find a place because the island and main town are so compact.

Still, you want to have some insight into the hotel situation before booking.

I recently spent over a week on Easter Island and we hopped around to different hotels in different areas of the island, so that we could report back on the best places to stay on Easter Island based on real experiences and not just summarizing reviews.

So below, I’ve broken down our experiences and also included some of the properties we were considering staying at so you can look into those as well.

Where you’ll likely be staying: Hanga Roa

Almost all of the hotels on Easter Island are located in the town of Hanga Roa or its nearby outskirts.

This makes planning a lot easier because you’re not having to choose from several cities like you would in most of their destinations.

You’ll just need to think about things like if you want to be close to the coast, near restaurants, farther from the city, etc.

In reality, as you’ll see below, everything is so close, that even if you are “farther away from it all,” you are still pretty close via a short car ride.

Things to look for


One thing to inquire about is the air conditioning or fan situation in your hotel room. Some lodges may not have these and they may not have the power to support them throughout the night if they rely on solar.

If you’re visiting during the peak of summer, it can get pretty hot and if you don’t have access to a fan or to air conditioning, it can be really difficult to get comfortable if you’re not used to the warmer temps.

If you have the room in your luggage, it might be helpful to bring a battery-powered portable fan with you just in case you end up getting too hot. Luckily, some of the hotels have really good air conditioning units and it’s possible to cool down your room.


The other thing you want to think about is the internet situation.

Luckily, Easter Island recently added Starlink so some places have very fast internet connections. If you don’t have enhanced Internet, you could be dealing with extraordinarily slow connections. For people planning to get off the grid that could be a very good thing.

But if you’re like me and need to remain reasonably connected, some of the hotels can make that borderline impossible! Hopefully, as Starlink continues to roll out on the island more hotels will pick it up.

Hotel locations and getting around

Getting to and from the airport

Lots of the hotels will offer a transfer service from the airport to the hotel, often included in your price.

If you’re staying in town, the airport is literally just a few minutes away, so it’s a very short journey.

Even if you are staying in one of the rural areas, it’s still probably only about 15 to 20 minutes away. I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize getting a hotel close to the airport but there are some hotels that are extremely close like Hotel Puku Vai.

There’s also a little pocket of hotels near Ana Kai Tanata at the west end of the airport, which is a really beautiful area to explore. If you stay near here, you’ll also be close to Mirador Rano Kau and the hiking trail that goes up and down into the crater.

Getting to the city

The town of Hanga Roa is very small and basically has one main road. Here you will find a lot of different mini-markets, shops, restaurants, etc. Think of it as downtown Hanga Roa.

Unless you are staying on the outskirts of the city then you should be able to get to that main area within about a 10 to 20 minute walk.

A lot of the restaurants will be on this main road but you can also find a lot of them near Playa Poko Poko which is along the coast.

Easter Island hotels near beaches

You might be drawn to the idea of staying at a hotel right by the beach but you don’t really have that option on Easter Island.

There are some places with nice ocean views like the Iorana Hotel, Kona Koa, etc. and some hotels are very close to some swimming and snorkeling spots like Hotel Boutique La Perouse but you’re not going to find high-rise hotels overlooking beaches like you would in some place like Hawaii.

Instead, to access the best beaches you’ll have to drive out from the city which brings me to the next point.

Playa Poko Poko

Getting to main attractions

To get to the most of the main attractions on the island you are going to have to venture “far” out of the town.

For example, if you want to get to the main beach of the island, Anakena Beach, it’s about a 20 to 25 minute drive. This is also the case if you want to get to Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki, etc.

For this reason, when you visit Easter Island you need a vehicle to get around or you need someone to take you around. Uber is not an option.

Some of the hotels may allow you to rent a vehicle through them. Other times, they will work with a tour provider who can pick you up and take you around. So this is something to be thinking about when choosing your lodging.

We chose to just rent a vehicle for the entire duration of our stay. That gave us the ultimate freedom to explore the island whenever we wanted and I thought it was a great decision looking back, although the company we went through left some to be desired.

We rented through Insular rental car company and while the car was mostly fine, the service was a bit iffy.

They “accidentally” canceled our booking after the refund cut-off date (but would not respond to any of our emails even though we had pre-paid), they told us at booking they would deliver the car and then said they couldn’t, and then when we were able to get over to the rental car building they told us it would be only five minutes and it ended up being like 45 minutes. It just felt very disorganized.

Some people do get around via bicycle or some other type of motorized vehicle such as ATV so those are also options.

Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki

Related Easter Island content:

Luxury hotels on Easter Island

If you want to have a bonafide luxury hotel experience while on Easter Island there are basically only two established hotels in that category I’m aware of.

First, there is the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa, which we stayed a couple of nights at. The service at this hotel was great and it has a beautiful and unique design inspired by Orongo, the ancient village found at Rano Kau. It’s also pretty equipped with multiple restaurants, a bar, pool, gym, and spa.

They had only been re-opened for a few months when we visited so they were still finding their stride, but I’m sure as time goes by the experience will be smoother.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa can go for $500+/night and it even has an all-inclusive option that includes food along with excursions, so it can actually be a pretty good deal depending on how you find the price. You can read our full review of that hotel here.

There is also the Explora Rapa Nui, which is located farther from the city and has some pretty nice ocean views (from a distance). We tried to check out this hotel during our stay but it was tucked away on the hillside — it definitely has a very secluded feel from what I could tell. This hotel is even more pricey at around $1,800 per night.

I saw a couple of other hotels with high price tags but they did not have the established reviews for me to feel good about booking with them or recommending them.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

Mid-tier hotels

If you’re thinking about spending somewhere in the middle tier range between $200 and $400 per night, here are some options:

  • Kona Koa
  • Taha Tai Hotel
  • Hotel Hare Uta
  • Iorana Hotel
  • Hotel Puku Vai
  • Hare Nua Hotel Boutique

We stayed at the Kona Koa Lodge which is one of the more remote hotels. It’s located farther away from the city than almost all of the hotels on the island but you’re still relatively close as you can get to the “city” in about 10 minutes while driving.

This distance gives it a very peaceful vibe. Moreover, the bungalows, which are fully equipped with mini-kitchens and private bathrooms, face west so you can enjoy those awesome Polynesian sunsets right from your patio.

There are only a few bungalows and the owners give each guest special attention to help them get acquainted with the island. Moreover, they are only steps away or are reachable by phone in case you need them for anything.

I really enjoyed the four nights we stayed with them and if you want something a bit removed from the city life, Kona Koa Lodge is an exceptional choice. You can read the full review here. Rates are around $250/night.

View from Kona Koa Lodge.

We also stayed at the Taha Tai Hotel. This hotel is located right in the city very close to Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa and only about a five minute walk to the main street area.

The owner was very friendly and we enjoyed the property. Rooms were very spacious and cool with good AC. They even had TVs!

Taha Tai Hotel.

They also have a really nice pool area. In addition to hotel rooms, I believe they also have villa-type lodging.

Taha Tai Hotel.

Budget hotels

You can find quite a few hotels and hostels for under $100.

We did not experiment with any budget properties but I did see quite a few like: Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana, La casa del Kori, Cabañas Henua Iti, and Hostal Marari.

The only thing I did not like about some of the budget options is that they did not have many photos or reviews so in some cases it could be hard to know what you are getting into.

Final word

Choosing a place to stay in Easter Island is not that difficult because your options are fairly limited.

Once you decide on a budget, chances are there will only be a few hotels that stick out based on your preferences, photos, and reviews.

I really enjoyed Kona Koa Lodge and for the luxury experience, I also would recommend Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa.

Do the Easter Island Heads Have Bodies? [Myth Explained]

You’ve probably seen any number of YouTube thumbnails or header images with a huge Easter Island statue, known as a “moai,” being excavated with a huge and (likely photoshopped) stone body being revealed.

I know I have seen my fair share of these images and this has led to a lot of people asking questions like do the Easter Island heads have bodies?

In this article, I want to clarify the answer to that question but also clarify what I think is a common misconception about our knowledge related to Easter Island.

Do the Easter Island heads have bodies?

Yes, the Easter Island heads have bodies.

However, this question is often accompanied by a narrative suggesting that this knowledge was gained by some type of major (recent) discovery when in fact it would have always been known to anyone familiar with the island or even just someone casually visiting.

Let me explain below.

The weird and nonsensical narrative that started this question

There is this narrative that exists that goes something like this.

Some team of excavators arrive on Easter Island one day (in recent memory) and decide to dig up the ground surrounding a moai statue.

Upon excavating, they discover that the moai statue does not just consist of a head but has an entire “full body” connected to it! Unbelievable!

This was apparently some type of major archaeological revelation that changed our understanding of the moai and Easter Island as a whole.

But this narrative does not make sense when you look at the facts.

Why this revelation never took place

First, consider that these moai were first built over the span of a few hundred years. There is some debate as to when exactly these were created but they were generally thought to be created between 1,100 and 1,650 AD.

(So the statues are likely not thousands of years old as some also believe.)

These statues were designed to represent the ancestors of the inhabitants of Easter Island.

Not just in a way that remembered them but in a way that captured supernatural power that could be used to protect their clans or community. This power was called “mana.”

Indeed, this is probably why the vast majority of the moai don’t face out towards the ocean – they needed to keep a watchful eye on their descendants.

Anyway, when these statues were created they were created with “full bodies.”

Yes, the heads were way oversized but the bodies had arms, hands, and were often decorated with art and tattoos and symbols. There were even these cool hats called pukao that were placed on top of them along with white corals eyes.

I should clarify that when I say “body” I mostly mean a trunk with flat arms and hands. Think body like a bowling pin.

Most of them always seem to have taken on a universal male shape although there were some feminine moai. Also, a few select moai do have feet and even “junk in the trunk” although that was rare to see.

Some of these statues were transported miles away from the quarry that they were carved out from.

Many believe that they were basically “walked” by using a system of ropes and a lot of muscle which is one of the most impressive human feats in all of history if you ask me.

The statues would be transported to platforms called ahu and that is where you could find a row of statues overlooking a local village.

Eventually, the inhabitants sadly seemed to have turned against the statues.

Perhaps it was famine, disease, or something else but it seems that the inhabitants rebelled against these ancestral statues and eventually toppled them over.

Other natural events like earthquakes or tsunamis could’ve also played a role in the toppling of many of these. But I think it’s pretty clear that the reverence for the moai was largely lost at some point and that resulted in many of these coming down.

As Europeans started to arrive on the island in the 18th century, they found some statues standing but lots of them toppled over.

At no point during this time would the original inhabitants or European explorers have thought the statues were commonly just heads.

Image via Wiki (creative commons)

Instead, they would have seen the moai’s entire body like the moai that was taken to the British Museum in 1868 and put on display for everyone to see the body.

Easter Island Statue British Museum
Easter Island Statue

Now, as you get close to the quarry, known as Rano Raraku, where the vast majority of statues were carved you will find a lot of statues covered up to their chest or chin.

If you were blindfolded and then just dropped on Rano Raraku’s slopes in front of one of these, you may not have thought that the statues have a full body.

But anyone who arrived on Easter Island within the last 1,000 years would have seen the statues toppled over or standing and would have instantly recognized that the statues typically have full bodies.

In addition, any scientist (or team of explorers) arriving on the island would surely have also known this by the time they saw a buried moai.

There have been many excavations on the island and they have dug up statues that were completely buried or partially submerged.

This, I’m sure, has led to a better understanding of the shapes and designs of the moai and probably the Rapa Nui culture but it doesn’t make sense that any explorer would have been shocked to find a body below one of the Easter Island heads as is commonly portrayed.

That’s because there were dozens and dozens of full body moai that could be found scattered all around the island. Moreover, the quarry where the statues are carved is full of incomplete moai (with bodies) that were essentially frozen in time.

So one would be able to easily deduce that the statues were always created with the intention of them having a full body.

Perhaps the excavated moai bodies could’ve been bigger, wider, or better preserved than originally thought but I don’t see how anyone could have ever seriously questioned whether or not there was a body under the ground or not.

Indeed, the surprise would have been if there was only a head!

Where did this idea come from?

So where did this idea come from that society was all of a sudden shocked by the existence of a full body moai?

That’s a really good question.

My guess is just that images at some point surfaced of the excavations at Easter Island.

Since so few people have actually visited the island or seen the standing moai on ahus (which were not restored until the 1960s and even more recently), all it would take is one publication to post some type of clickbait type of image and headline that made it look like as if some grand discovery had recently been made.

Easter Island heads, like the emoji 🗿, also became a thing in pop culture and so this “revelation” narrative easily found some footing and millions were introduced to it.

So there you have it.

Yes, the statues on Easter Island are more than just heads and have bodies.

And no, there should never have been any serious doubts that the “head statues” had bodies.

That was just some narrative that caught traction and that still has traction today, largely because of its clickbait potential.

Personally, I certainly understand why lots of people would be surprised to find out that there are full body moai (because of the fake narratives out there).

But when I see some platforms trying to promote some type of recent major discovery that never actually happened it’s just annoying and often just contributes to a false understanding about this place’s history.

I think the real story about these moai, which hits on their unbelievable human engineering, mysterious demise, and tireless restoration efforts, is much more fascinating than some fictitious discovery.

If you have interest in visiting the island and learning more about this history, be sure to check out these resources:

The Best Places to See on Easter Island [The Bucket List Sites]

Despite Easter Island being so small, there are a lot of places worth exploring here.

With so many different moai, ahus, and caves, you can easily get overwhelmed with options and lost in the rich history and fascinating stories.

So below, I have highlighted some of the best places to see on Easter Island.

I’ve also provided some historical insight into some of these spots so that you’ll better understand the significance of these sites before you visit. Trust me, it really pays to have some insight when visiting a place like this!

Overview of the Best Places to See on Easter Island

Below you will find over 30 places to see on Easter Island (or in some cases like scuba diving just “things to do”). I believe these are the most “worth it” sites to see and furthermore that these will give you a very well-rounded set of experiences.

We experienced virtually all of these places and things and some of them are places we found that were not even listed on any maps or recommended by local tour guides!

To visit some of the places below, you will need a guide and not all of these places are open 24 hours.

This means that you want to do some planning and put together an itinerary that works within the amount of time you have to visit Easter Island.

Easter Island related content

You may already be aware but Easter Island is not the easiest place on the planet to visit for a few reasons.

Here are some additional articles you may find helpful when preparing for your visit:

With all of that out-of-the-way, let’s jump into the different places you’ll want to visit!

Rano Raraku

When the average persons thinks of Easter Island, chances are they are conjuring up images of Rano Raraku.

This is the birthplace of virtually all of the moai. It was here at this quarry known as Rano Raraku where the vast majority of the moai were carved out of tuff (volcanic ash) and then began their downhill journey, usually to an area along the coast.

The smooth hillsides of this volcanic crater are covered with moai of various sizes and there is just something majestic about strolling through this area — I only spent 45 minutes here but I could’ve easily hung around for a couple of hours.

It’s estimated that there are about 400 statues located around Rano Raraku, so this place has by the far the highest concentration of moai.

To fully explore Rano Raraku it’s somewhat of a miniature hike so be prepared for some steps but nothing too strenuous.

I particularly liked seeing some of the huge moai still unfinished, including the largest one which would have stood an unimaginable 60 to 70 feet tall! You really get the feeling of history being frozen in time at this place like no other.

Something extra fascinating about Rano Raraku is that there is a lake on top of it that recently went dry. In fact, that is where a moai was discovered while we were visiting the island!

This is one of the destinations that you only can visit one time per park entry pass so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time and that you visit when you have all your energy.

If you only have a short amount of time on Easter Island then you have got to see Rano Raraku — there’s simply is no way around it!

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki, which can be viewed from the hill sides of nearby Rano Raraku, is one of the most popular sites on Easter Island.

The largest ahu on the island, you’ll find a row of 15 stone giants towering along the horizon including the largest one erected on the island which weighs a whopping 86 tons! Like some other ahus, this one is oriented to the sunrise on the summer solstice.

Ahu Tongariki

Not only can you appreciate Ahu Tongariki from the front but take a loop path around the back which gives you an entirely different perspective.

Ahu Tongariki required decades of restoration work after a powerful tsunami in the 1960s caused a great deal of damage to the ahu. What you’re seeing today is a relatively recent product!

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki is THE spot where people convene for the sunrise.

There’s a small mound in front of the ahu and if you get there early enough you can lock down that spot. But there is plenty of space to get a great view of the sunrise here.

Before the sun emerges, look for a bright “star” that is probably actually the planet mercury as seen in the photo below.

Ahu Tongariki

I would recommend that you get here 30 minutes to an hour before astronomical twilight ends so that you can stargaze under some of the darkest skies you’ve ever seen: Bortle 1 skies!

We were fortunate enough to watch the Milky Way rise behind these beautiful moai statues and it was a sight I’ll surely never forget.

Ahu Tongariki milky way
Ahu Tongariki

If you are interested in stargazing there is a stargazing tour where you can actually use a telescope to admire the night sky. Unfortunately, availability did not line up for us so we just did our own stargazing which was still very impressive to see.

Easter Island is in the Southern Hemisphere so for people coming from the Northern Hemisphere (US, Europe, etc.), you can observe a much different night sky.

If you don’t know much about stargazing, here’s what to look for:

  • Southern half of Milky Way Galaxy
  • Carina Nebula
  • Southern Cross
  • Magellanic Clouds (two cloud-like things pictured below)

Ahu Tahai

There are quite a few places worth catching the sunset on Easter Island and Ahu Tahai is probably the most popular.

We checked out the site on a couple of different evenings and one of those nights blessed us with a sensational sunset. You likely will run into some crowds here but every night that we visited, the crowds were never that bad.

Ahu Tahai

This is also one of the few places where you will see a standing moai with restored eyes. These were typically one of the last things added to a moai after it arrived at its ahu.

There’s something about those white eyes that make the moai take on a completely different appearance, especially with a magnificent sunset in the background!

Ahu Tahai

Ahu Tahai

The other great thing about Ahu Tahai is that you don’t need to have a guide with you and it is open all night so it’s also a great place for stargazing (although there is some nearby light pollution).

Mirador Hanga Kioe

If you want a more low-key sunset spot then head to Mirador Hanga Kioe.

It’s just a little bit up the road from Ahu Tahai and it’s another spot that does not require a guide. I like this spot because it primarily features a single moai and it’s also very easy to access.

We watched the sunset here the first night of our trip and there were only a couple of other people in this wide-open area. It was a very still and spiritual type of feeling compared to the more festive oriented Ahu Tahai.

The light pollution over here is also less of an issue so this could be a better place for stargazing or astrophotography.

The blowhole

Just a little up the way from Mirador Hanga Kioe is a cool little blowhole that you can get up close to.

We randomly stumbled upon this so you probably won’t find this on a map or local guide books. It’s found right about -27.128737090229826, -109.424727846241. It seemed to be firing away around low tide but I’m not sure if it also puts on a performance around high tide. Perhaps it’s even more impressive then!

This is also just a cool spot to go tide pooling and to admire the rocky coastline. We found lots of sea urchins, crabs, and some really cool coral fragments. (Of course, you can’t take these with you.)

Go to a dance show

Another thing that I would consider a must to do is to attend an evening dance show. Music and dancing is big here and the shows are a sight to behold.

Personally, I enjoy luaus in Hawaii but these Polynesian shows are a little bit different.

They are smaller and more intimate than your typical luau, so it’s easier to get up close and personal with the performers which I really liked. The shows also had more of a “primitive” feel to them with less reliance on the spectacles.

The show that we saw was Te Ra’ai, which might be the most popular.

They offer a full package or you can participate in a traditional dinner. We opted just for the show. Make sure you don’t turn down your opportunity for some face painting and a traditional head dress!

Te Ra’ai dance show.

Other shows to look at to attending include Kari-Kari, Te Moana, and Vai Te Mihi. We actually were able to enjoy a surprise outdoor show by Kari-Kari at our hotel which I really enjoyed. They literally stopped traffic which was pretty funny!

Kari-Kari dance show.

You can talk to your tour guides and locals about which show is best but chances are you’ll end up getting recommendations for all of them!

Note: Sometimes they may not have enough audience members to put on the show for the night so you may have to get confirmation just before the show starts in some cases.


Orongo is a ceremonial village found on the rim of the Rano Kau volcano and is one of the most significant sites on Easter Island.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it served as the hub for the Tangata Manu or “Birdman” cult. After the moai culture declined sometime in the 16th century, the “Birdman” ceremonies took place here.

Clan members climbed down the treacherous cliff side and made a swim to the islet of Motu Nui, where they would attempt to recover the first sooty tern egg of the season. Then they’d swim back and climb back up the cliff.

The first person to return with an intact egg was declared the Tangata Manu or “Birdman” and earned the right to rule the island for the following year.

As you wander atop the cliff sides, you’ll get up close views of the stone houses (hare paenga). These were used by the competitors during the ceremony, which I was told lasted up to a month.

Your tour guide should also help point out some of the petroglyphs or rock carvings depicting the Tangata Manu and then eventually show you an amazing view of the crater.

Note: You can only visit Orongo one time per park pass.

Mirador Rano Kau

Mirador Rano Kau is the lookout point for the Rano Kau crater that has the added bonus of a beautiful ocean view in the background.

You definitely want to stop by after a visit to Orongo but the great thing about the spot is that unlike Orongo, you don’t need a guide.

This is also where the trail drops down into the crater so if you are feeling adventurous you can give that trail a shot.

Mirador Rano Kau
Mirador Rano Kau

Ana Kakenga

Ana Kakenga was one of the major highlights of the trip for me. It’s probably the most iconic lava tube on Easter Island. If you just want to see this cave, it’s about a 2.25 mile round-trip hike with just a small amount of elevation gain.

Hopefully, your guide will take you along the coast so that you can admire the impressive cliff views but be careful about getting too close. Also, make sure you don’t roll your ankles on the uneven terrain.

There is no official trail along the coast — you just sort of find your own route. But on your way back, you can walk along the road which is a much easier path with less risk for rolling an ankle.

During the winter months you might be able to spot whales off the coast but if the whales are not there, you’ll probably see some people practicing for canoeing competitions.

There were some seriously skilled canoers slicing through the swells during our visit!

As for the cave itself, it has a pretty small opening that you enter through.

I’m personally pretty claustrophobic but I was able to power through the cave because it is only confined for a short amount of time. Then it opens up to two separate windows that look out to the ocean.

Taking in the views from those lovely two windows was extraordinary.

I don’t know of many other places where you can do this so.

To make life easy for yourself wear a headlamp, especially if you want to do any kind of recording while you are going into the cave. You can also leave your backpack at the entrance of the cave to make it easier to get through the tight spots.

Ana Kakenga

Ana Te Pahu

Another very famous cave is Ana Te Pahu. We did not visit Ana Te Pahu proper but instead went into a “secret” cave that I believe is next to it or at least is very close to it.

The opening to the cave was wide and had a pretty large tree coming out of it which we had to use to help us climb down a pretty steep little path.

Once inside, this cave had a pretty confining crawl that we had to do to get to this little under water pond which was pretty interesting to see.

In retrospect, I wish our guide would have offered us to also see the main cave known as Ana Te Pahu, because it would’ve been cool to see both of them.

You can talk to your guide about seeing all of the caves in one trip which would also include Ana Te Pora and Ahu Tepeu — just make sure you have the time for them.

Anakena Beach

You won’t find many beaches on Easter island but the premier beach without a doubt is Anakena. It’s home to a pretty wide beach area (for small island standards) and it’s quite a beautiful beach.

It’s also the place where the original settlers came to shore according to legend.

Some people consider Easter Island to be the “final place” that mankind settled after spreading out from Africa, through Asia, and throughout Polynesia. So in a sense, it could be argued that this beach is where the first major wave of human exploration reached its furthest point.

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach

There’s a small trail that takes you to the end of the beach where you can admire the views or even check out a shaded area where campers can take advantage of one of the most idyllic campsites.

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach

If you visit in the afternoon, you’ll find a few different restaurants (all next to each other) serving up scrumptious ceviche and hearty fried potato dishes. Just make sure you have plenty of time because each time we ate at these restaurants, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to get our food even when the crowds were nonexistent.

A few other things to know about the beach:

  • Beautiful palm trees provide shade where you can rest and relax on picnic tables.
  • When the cruise ship was in town, Anakena became significantly more crowded!
  • They have bathrooms at the beach which makes it easy for you to spend more time here.

Ahu Nau Nau

Just next to Anakena is Ahu Nau Nau, one of the most picturesque ahus on the island with well-preserved moai.

If you like seeing moai with pukao (the red headdresses) this is the best place to catch them since most moai are not adorned with pukao.

It’s believed that construction of this ahu involved three stages spanning from 1100 AD to 1400 AD and that the site is connected to the earliest history known to the island.

Although Ahu Nau Nau is located just next to the beach, you are still required to be accompanied with a guide to visit it.

There is a hill that you’ll see in this area and if you want a higher vantage point, you can make the trek up the hill.

Ahu Nau Nau

You can also check out Ahu Ature Huki, which is another moai located right next to Ahu Nau Nau. I thought this one was interesting because it had a very “stretched out” appearance.

Ahu Ature Huki


The other main beach to visit is Ovahe, located just a couple of minutes away from Ahu Nau Nau.

Ovahe doesn’t have all of the restaurants and tourist facilities so it also has fewer crowds. You’ll need to walk along the trail to get down to the beach area but it’s pretty easy to do.

There actually are two different beaches here but you need to climb some rocks to get to the second one. You will surely be tempted by some of the caves in the cliffs but those are off-limits so be sure to respect the signs keeping you away.

The manmade bath

There’s a cool little spot located directly across from Pu o Hiro (near GPS coordinates -27.0933464396, -109.2803474044).

I didn’t see a name for it on any maps but it’s a cool spot with beautiful turquoise water and a little man-made bath placed right on the coast. You’ll take a short little dirt road to get to the edge of the coast and then you can simply walk down to check out the bath.

Playa poko poko

While its name may indicate a beach, this is more of a natural swimming pool sheltered from the waves.

The shallow waters makes it a fantastic spot for families and others who don’t want to venture too far from the coast. You can swim, snorkel, and just soak in the clear waters here.

Since Playa poko poko is located so close to the city, it’s one of the easiest spots to get to.

Playa poko poko
Playa poko poko

Pea swimming pool

About 1,000 feet away from Playa poko poko is the Pea swimming pool. This is another nice protected area to get into the water and go for a nice little swim.

There are two sides to this area with one being larger and more protected than the other.

Pea swimming pool
Pea swimming pool

One of the main reasons you come to this swimming area is for an encounter with beautiful sea turtles and we saw several!

Pea swimming pool

Petroglifos Papa Vaka

There are various places where you can find petroglyphs on Easter island but one popular place to find them is Papa Vaka — the largest petroglyph that has been found on Easter Island.

You’ll see recognizable shapes like fish hooks, a squid, shark and a large tuna etched into the rock. But the biggest design you’ll discover is a huge double cano.

Papa Vaka is located right off the road so it’s extremely easy to access. Consider planning a stop when you visit the beaches on the north side of the island since it is right on the way.

Petroglifos Papa Vaka

Pu o Hiro

Pu o Hiro is another one of the quick stops along the road — it’s found just across the road from the beautiful man-made bath mentioned above.

At first glance, this just looks like a strangely shaped rock. However, it’s said that this stone was actually used as a musical instrument.

Supposedly, you can blow through one of the holes and it will produce a loud sound similar to a trumpet that was used to summon the god of rain. Apparently making the sound is not easy and there are only a few locals who know how to do it.

If you look very closely you may be able to see some petroglyphs on the rock. Just keep in mind that you have to remain behind the barrier so you can’t come into contact with the rock or give it a blow.

Pu o Hiro

Ahu Akivi

Ahu Akivi has the special designation of being the one ahu that faces out to the ocean (and one of the few that exist inland). It’s believed the construction of Ahu Akivi initially began towards the end of the 15th century, with the moai being added about 150 years before Europeans arrived in 1722.

According to the local legend, King Hotu Matu’a initially sent scouts across the sea to locate Easter Island and to settle there. Seven of these scouts stayed on the island waiting for the king and the seven stone moai here represent those brave scouts.

This is hotly debated based on the late dates of construction though.

Still, this ahu is also significant for being the first to be restored which created the momentum needed to make widespread restorations throughout the island.

The modern day standing moai found on Easter island all started with this ahu!

Ahu Akivi

This site also has celestial significance. The moai, which are all of roughly equal size, face sunset during the Spring Equinox but have their backs to the sunrise during the Autumn Equinox.

It’s just a short walk to get to the moai from the entrance, so you can visit Ahu Akivi with relative quickness.

Note: if you want to visit during the special time of the sunrise during the spring equinox, you’ll probably have to get special permission since the kiosks do not open that early.

Something to think about is that the trailhead to the top of Mount Terevaka, the highest point on Easter island, is also found at this site.

Ahu Akivi

Rapa Nui Museum

Another absolute must visit is the Rapa Nui Museum.

We were extremely fortunate because the museum had just opened up a couple of days before we visited. It’s a pretty compact museum but it is full of fascinating information about the history of Rapa Nui.

A couple of the exhibits that you cannot miss include the coral eyes of a moai which I understand to be the only original coral eyes found. You can see exactly how they fit into the moai up close!

Rapa Nui Museum

And then there are the scripts of Rongo Rongo, the ancient language that has yet to be decoded. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not this was actually a written language but it’s still really cool to see an ancient, undeciphered script. It looks like something straight out of a movie.

Rapa Nui Museum rongo rongo

Best of all, this museum is free to visit, so make sure you make time for this because it’s absolutely worth it. (They also have English interpretations for the exhibit panels.) The days of operation and hours can be a little bit weird for this museum so be sure to do some research ahead of time.

Ana Kai Tangata

Ana Kai Tangata is a cave area with historic pictographs that have been preserved inside of the walls of a large cave.

The name “Ana Kai Tangata” is subject to a number of different interpretations including “cave where men are eaten.” Lots of artifacts have been found in the cave including stone tools, pottery, and even human bones.

Some suggest that this site is evidence of the ancient practice of cannibalism but the evidence is still very much debated from what I can tell.

Ana Kai Tangata

You can still see the historic pictographs on the inside of the cave’s walls but it seems that a lot of the art has fallen off the walls so you may not have much longer to check out these visuals.

Ana Kai Tangata rick art

You can venture inside the cave but you have to do so at your own risk. Not because of cannibals but because it’s pretty obvious while you are in there that rock slabs constantly fall from the ceiling so be careful if you choose to go in.

Ana Kai Tangata cave

Hanga Roa Beach

Just beyond Ana Kai Tangata, is Hanga Roa Beach. Although that’s the name you’ll find on Google Maps, it’s not much of a beach. Instead, it’s more of a dramatic cliffside with stunning lava rocks.

I’d recommend making some time to just wandering around these cliffs and check out the magnificent views.

Hanga Roa Beach
Hanga Roa Beach

Scuba diving

I was super fortunate to get one dive in at Easter Island considering that I arrived with a pretty bad cold (and diving with a cold is not recommended).

Luckily, it cleared up for me towards the end of the trip but the drawback was that I wasn’t able to go on the famous moai dive.

The reason is that some of the dive shops will require you to go on a refresher dive if you have not recently been diving. My last dive was about 12 months prior in Hawaii so that was not “fresh” enough to avoid the refresher course.

I believe the underwater moai is somewhere around 60 to 70 feet deep and your dive shop may want you to show that you are comfortable before letting you go down that deep.

I was bummed but I could live without it because the moai down there is not an actual moai created by the original inhabitants of the island hundreds of years ago. It’s a recent creation that was used on a movie and TV show so I didn’t quite feel like I was missing out on a piece of history.

With my moai dreams dashed, I felt like it would still be worth it to dive just to see what the terrain was like down there, especially because I had heard so many amazing things about the visibility.

I found the visibility to be great although it wasn’t exactly pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming clear down there and I would compare it to some of my prior dives.

From what I heard, the conditions were pretty great so I wouldn’t say I was disappointed but just not quite blown away like I thought I might be. We also did not encounter a ton of wildlife down there as the fish, while beautiful, were still not very abundant.

Also, something you should know about the refresher course.

Unlike some other places that allow you to refresh your skills in a pool or shallow water and then go on a dive, Mike Rapu gets you to perform the refresher skills during your dive. Had I known that, I would have really tried to get a second dive in because that eats up such a large chunk of your dive.

(A slight language barrier made it a little difficult to know exactly how things were going to happen.)

I would say to try to plan things out as best you can before you arrive but the dive shop failed to get back to me when I tried reaching out prior to arriving so it really made things difficult to plan anything out.

In the end, due to the cold I was dealing with, I doubt I was going to get a lot of diving action in on this trip so just getting one dive in was honestly a win for me.

Ahu Vinapu

When it comes to the ahu, Ahu Vinapu is probably the most interesting one on the island.

Located on the south coast of the island near the airport, the main ahu here is called Ahu Tahira and it faces the winter solstice at sunrise.

But the real reason it stands out is the ahu showcases a style of stonework found nowhere else on the island.

It’s a style that many believe is transplanted from the Inca and is evidence of the early contact between the continent of South America and inhabitants of Easter Island.

Ahu Vinapu

Specifically, the precisely cut basalt slabs resemble the techniques found at Saysachuaman and at the chullpas of Sillustani (near Lake Titicaca).

Some historians speculate that Inca Tupac Yupanqui may have arrived at Easter Island during an expedition to the Pacific around 1480, though there’s still a lot of mystery around these claims.

Another point of interest is the red column that stands alone, which represents a rare feminine moai. According to some, this may have possessed two heads.

Ahu Vinapu

The secret beach (27°10’09.5″S 109°23’52.9″W)

Nearby Ahu Vinapu, there’s a beautiful stretch of coastline worth checking out. At the very least, you can just pull over and check out the view for a few minutes. Find it near 27°10’09.5″S 109°23’52.9″W.

You can descend a few hundred feet and check out the little beach cove if you have the time and energy. It’s sort of like having your own private beach which is pretty cool but you may want to be careful during high tide. I’m not sure how powerful the waves get.

Puna Pau

Puna Pau is the red scoria quarry found on a small extinct volcano. It includes a reddish color due to the iron oxide it contains and was used to carve the hats or (hair) that went on top of the moai, known as pukao.

Puna Pau

This is a pretty small site so you don’t need to plan a lot of time but just be ready for a short but relatively steep walk. It’s beautiful to take in during the morning.

Puna Pau

I was surprised to find that some of them had designs in them along with notches presumably made them fit on the heads better.

Puna Pau

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Ahu Huri A Urenga is another spot that you can visit without a guide and it’s generally going to be a very quick visit, as it’s located right off the road.

This is yet another ahu found inland and consists of one lone moai standing tall on a platform 13 meters long by 4 meters wide.

The moai here is particularly interesting because it has two pairs of hands and nobody really knows why.

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Likely used for funeral rituals, this ahu and moai also has celestial importance.

Both the statue and platform line up with where the sun rises during the winter solstice. Also, at the entrance, you can find a water well and stone holes that were used to accumulate rainwater and these reportedly aligned with the stars during certain times. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Ahu Huri A Urenga

Ahu Akahanga

Ahu Akahanga is home to the remains of an ancient village where it is believed that the first king was buried.

You’ll find lots of ruins here including the old foundations of houses and stone ovens.

The main ahu here, spanning 18 meters in length, has several toppled moai. Interestingly, the face both down and up which is in contrast to most of the moai that were toppled face down.

Where exactly the body of the original king could be is anybody’s guess, as modern excavations haven’t been able to confirm if those remains were actually buried here.

Ahu Akahanga

One moai that lies on its back behind the ahu is thought to be one of the oldest carved moai. The older moai did not have as much detail and were shorter than the larger ones that later came out in a more uniform condition.

Ahu Akahanga

Another site worth checking out before leaving is the small cave which would have provided shelter to fisherman working along the coast.

Ahu Akahanga

Te Pito Kura

Te Pito Kura is one of the most visited moai spots, as it is home to two pretty remarkable things.

First, you’ll find Paro Moai, which represents the largest moai ever successfully raised at an ahu. The moai is astonishingly 10 meters in height with its ears alone measuring 2 m. They estimate that this thing must weigh 80 tons or more.

Te Pito Kura

Just beyond that oversized moai is a large ovoid shaped stone called the “navel of light” and some people call it the “navel of the world.” It’s a special stone because according to legend it was brought over by Hotu Matu’a, the founding king of the Rapanui people because of its special energy, or mana.

The stone has a high percentage of iron content which is activated by heat and will throw off a compass if it’s put too close.

Te Pito Kura rock

Hanga Te’e / Vaihu

Hanga Te’e/Vaihu is the very first place that we visited and could be the first spot your tour guide decides to take you to.

It’s home to a large ahu, 86 meters long and 12 meters wide, which made up the base for eight statues. The statues now lie on their face and give a good indication of what the sites looked like during the 18th century.

Something else cool about this spot are the models found at the Centro de Interpretacion that depict what the homes looked like along with other things like chicken coops, ovens, and orchards.

Other sites

As you explore the island you’ll find countless number of ahus and moais located all around the coast line.

Some of the sites that are less prominently featured on maps are okay to visit without a guide so you can explore these places when (and if) you decide to ditch the guide.

I’ll list some of the places below that I would try to check out but you are bound to stumble upon at least a couple of places.

Try to take some time to investigate these because sometimes you may only see a pile of unremarkable blocks from a distance but upon close examination you may discover a beautifully preserved moai.

Just make sure you are aware of what’s off-limits because at some of these lesser visited sites, it’s kind of difficult to know where are you permitted and where you’re not.

Ahu One Makihi

Ahu One Makihi

Ahu Riata

Ahu Riata

Random fallen moai (27°08’13.4″S 109°18’38.7″W)

Sunday morning mass

One thing that some travelers like to do is attend Sunday morning mass at the local church.

That really did not appeal to me but I had a dive scheduled for Sunday morning anyway which was the last available spot for me so this was not really an option. Still, for something different it might be worth checking out.

Horseback riding

You’ll find horses everywhere on Easter Island.

And if you enjoy riding horses or if you want to give it a try, this is probably one of the best places. Specifically, you can look into tours that will take you to places that you can’t access with a vehicle due to a lack of roads. So you can really explore more of the island and get away from crowds.

I kind of regret not looking into horseback riding more but our schedule was so full during the week we were there that I don’t think we would’ve had time anyway!

Visit the Sernatur

Back when we originally had a trip to Easter Island planned in 2016, I was stoked about getting my passport stamped. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the trip but the tradition still lives on today just in a different form.

You can head to the visitor information center, also known as the Sernatur, which is where you can ask for a passport stamp. It’s 100% free and you don’t even need to tip.

Just keep in mind that this is considered a “souvenir stamp” and there is always the small risk that it could cause problems down the line in some countries.

easter island passport stamp

This is also a great place to get a quality map because some of the maps that the rental car agencies hand out are not super helpful. They had two people in the office who spoke great English and were able to explain a lot of things. So if you have questions that is absolutely the best place to go.

Additional reading: To get more context around a lot of the sites mentioned in this article, check out this website that goes into great detail for a lot of the sites.

Final word

There’s obviously a ton of things to see and do on Easter island. Hopefully, this article has helped you to round up some ideas for things to do and given you some insight on what to expect!

Is Easter Island Open to the Public? [2023]

For over two years, Easter Island remained closed off to tourists due to the threats ongoing from the pandemic. But after a long wait, things changed and the island made some major modifications in order to re-open to the public.

Check out the article below for the latest on whether or not Easter Island is open to the public!

Is Easter Island open to the public?

Yes, Easter Island opened up to the public in August 2022. This opening came after the island had been shut off to the public for over two years since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the island is now open to tourists, there are certain things that you need to know before deciding to plan a trip there. I’ll break these important things down in detail below.

There are still a limited number of flights

Starting in the fall of 2023, the flights may be closer to full speed in terms of volume but right now there are still only about three flights a week to Easter Island aboard LATAM’s 787 Dreamliner.

So while the island is open, it is not as easy to plan and book a flight as it was before the pandemic shut things down due to more limited flight inventory. Booking in advance is pretty important.

Related: How to get to Easter Island: Everything You Need to Know

Filling out your paperwork

Your first priority when getting to Easter Island is to make sure that your paperwork is in order.

You’ll want to fill out your Rapa Nui Entry Form before you ever arrive at Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL). You can fill out the form online here. Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated.

Initially when the island reopened they required visitors to be fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR test taken no more than 24 hours before boarding a domestic flight to the island. Also, tourists aboard international flights to the island had to take an antigen test once they arrived.

However, they eventually relaxed the requirements so that if you had proof of vaccination you did not have to show a negative PCR test. (This was the policy when we visited.)

It’s possible that as more time goes by, the coronavirus requirements for vaccinations and testing may become more lax.

Unfortunately, it’s somewhat difficult to get real time information about these things from Easter Island because there is often little to no literature produced when a change is made.

Try to get into contact with a lodge owner or business owner and see if they can provide you with the latest details that you can later confirm (hopefully on a government website).

Related: Guide for getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) to Rapa Nui/Easter Island

Sites are only open if you have a guide

Whenever Easter Island opened back up, they changed the way that you explore the island.

Virtually every site on the island now requires you to have a guide or local host with you in order to get access. The price for a tour guide can very dramatically from $50-$200 a day depending on the guide and how long you will be exploring.

While the new rules will help keep unruly tourists under control, it makes it much more difficult and expensive to visit Easter Island now.

It is not possible to visit (and appreciate) all of the sites in one day.

This means that you will need a guide for at least two days and some people may even need three days to see it all. (When I say “see it all” I mean all of the spots that require guides and some spots inbetween — not the entire island which would take much more time.)

So you have to factor in the additional expense of hiring a guide which is on top of the $80 you will spend for your 10 day park pass (per person). As you can see, you may end up spending several hundred dollars just to get access to the basic archaeological sites.

Also, most of the Easter Island sites are not open 24 hours a day, so you’ll want to plan out an itinerary that allows you to see the sites within open hours.

Related: Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park

Get familiar with the island

Easter Island is a special place but there are some things that will stand out that you want to know about.

Be sure to read our guide 21 Things You Need to Know About Easter Island Before Visiting. It will help you anticipate a lot of the big and small things that may catch you by surprise when you visit.

Final word

Easter Island is officially open to tourists after a very long wait.

While that is exciting news, it’s important to remember that some things have changed since the reopening and those changes don’t necessarily make your life easier as a tourist.

So stay up-to-date and be ready to take the extra steps for your planning and you should be able to enjoy your time on Easter Island if you choose to visit.

21 Things You Need to Know About Easter Island Before Visiting

Anytime you head to a far-flung, bucket-list destination like Easter Island, you want to do your research to make sure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience.

In the case of Easter Island, there are quite a few things you will want to know before you visit.

Below, I’ll highlight everything that you need to know about this amazing place so that you’ll be fully prepared on your first visit to make the most of your time!

For information on the documents needed and getting through the airport, check out this guide right here.

It feels very safe

One thing about this little island in the middle of the Pacific is that if you commit a crime, there’s nowhere for you to run. I mean, you could always live the rest of your life inside a lava tube I guess but that doesn’t necessarily sound ideal. 

As far as humans went, the island felt very safe. We didn’t feel the need to constantly watch our back or anything of the sort.

Obviously, you don’t want to let your guard completely down but the experience is very different from visiting some islands in other places of the world such as the Caribbean where you still have to remain vigilant.

Easter island lava tube

Seat belts are entirely optional

Wearing seatbelts is not really “a thing” in Easter Island. And we never even heard a seatbelt alarm/reminder during our entire time, so I’m not even sure the vehicles have those built-in.

Because it’s rare for anybody to drive with any real speed they’re probably not really needed in most cases. But this is something that takes getting used to.

You can always strap in if it makes you feel better, but I enjoyed going without a seatbelt just because it felt so different (and a little liberating).

Animals roam free

Animals, including dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and cattle have free reign on the island. You’ll find dogs hanging out at seemingly every corner and majestic horses trotting along the coast.

If you’re a dog lover (or just animal lover in general) you’ll really enjoy seeing so many of them. According to locals, most of these animals do have owners but they are just allowed to roam where they wish.

This means you need to be extra careful when you’re driving. Lots of the dogs like to sleep in the street and other times the animals just sort of come out of nowhere, especially at night.

On a couple of occasions we did encounter a couple of dogs that made us a little bit nervous but they were mostly just aggressive watch dogs being territorial.

I don’t think they would do non-intruders any harm but when a large dog jumps up on top of a fence post and lets you know that you are not welcome, it makes you a little uneasy.

Easter Island horse

You have to have a guide for most sites

To see the vast majority of the sites on Easter Island, you will have to accompanied by a guide or local host. This can get expensive over the spans of a few days and really limit your exploring abilities.

A private guide for two people for a full day will run you about $200 USD. If you want to see all of the sites, you will need at least two days so be prepared to spend some cash on guides.

Related: Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park

Easter Island, tour guide

It’s expensive 

Related to the above point, Easter Island can be pretty expensive.

Just getting there can be pricey because of all of the connecting flights and the hotel prices aren’t exactly the cheapest.

But when you throw your park pass and guides on top of everything, you’ll quickly be spending a nice chunk of change.

Related: How to get to Easter Island: Everything You Need to Know

Easter Island cave

You can easily find markets

On Easter Island, it’s not very difficult to find markets and mini markets where you can buy produce, snacks, essentials, etc.

To help ease the cost mentioned above, we made our way to the markets quite often. For about half the time we spent there, we just ate sandwiches and soups which helped us get by.

If you need anything medical related, such as sunscreen, you can get that at the pharmacy.

Internet is iffy but can be quite good

Starlink recently made its way to Easter island and some lodging places and businesses now have high speed internet. It’s been a game changer according to many locals.

We tested out Starlink for a few days and it was awesome out there. I was even able to conduct video conference calls without any type of issues.

However, a lot of places still do NOT have Starlink. For those places that don’t, the internet connection is seriously lacking. It makes it very difficult to be productive. Don’t even think about streaming anything.

So my suggestion would be to be prepared to embrace being largely off the grid or if you need to get some work done doing your trip, find a place with Starlink.

Starlink sign

Cell phone service or data is really hard/impossible to get

Depending on your provider, you might be able to get cell phone service but if you’re hoping to use your data on your phone to help you get around just know that there’s a good chance you won’t have access to it. We have Verizon and were never able to access our data. 

To make it easier to navigate around the island just download the Google Maps offline version for Easter Island. You probably won’t be able to pull up directions but you can still pretty easily navigate by following your little blue dot on the map. 

Just be aware that Google Maps is not fully updated with the latest business locations on Easter Island. On a number of occasions, we ventured to a location shown on Google Maps that was no longer there!

As things kick back up after the closure from the pandemic, I imagine the maps will get cleaned up.

Power and AC limitations

If you are accustomed to keeping your house ice cold like us, you might want to start turning up the temperature in your house in the weeks leading up to your trip.

That’s because some hotels and lodges don’t have AC and some don’t even have the power capacity to run fans all the time. This means that you could be running very warm and humid during your stay.

The temperature will cool down in the evening and with a breeze, it can feel heavenly outside or an a patio but inside of your room, it can be a real challenge to remain comfortable.

Little tree cover

Although the island was once home to huge palm trees, it no longer boasts thick forest canopies. You’ll find some pockets of thick eucalyptus forest, but the vast majority of the island is barren.

It’s still a beautiful site with green volcanic slopes rising and falling along the horizon but you’ll be hard-pressed to find shade in most spots (unless you’re standing next to a giant moai!). 

Don’t be surprised by insects or other critters

Lots of the lodging and other buildings are very open to the environment on Easter Island.

This means that you can expect to find bugs and other little creatures making their way into your hotel. We saw lizards, roaches, and other little bugs in our hotels.

We never had an issue with mosquitoes although the flies did come out pretty hard on a couple of occasions when dinner was served.

So just adjust your expectations accordingly and try not to be shocked if you wake up to find a roach in your bathtub!

You’ll want to rent a car

I strongly recommend renting a vehicle while in an Easter Island.

For us, this was vital to getting to sunset and sunrise locations and enjoying our early morning stargazing sessions. While you are still limited in what you could see due to the guide restrictions, it’s still a fun place to drive around in.

Another option could be to rent an ATV or scooter but we went with a four-door vehicle because we knew we would be riding around with a tour guide and we wanted to be comfortable.

A lot of the vehicles are manual but you might be able to find an automatic which is what we were given (even though we ordered manual).  

Credit cards are widely excepted

Most of the places we went to accepted credit cards, including American Express. You’ll just need to let the place know that you are using a credit card and not a debit that requires a pin.

A couple of places did not accept cards but they made it clear that they only accepted cash from the beginning. If you need cash, there is an ATM machine in the middle of town.

The sun sets late

The sun sets really late in Easter Island. 

In December, sunset will be around 9 PM, while in the winter it is still around 7 PM.

This gives you a lot of time to explore and then relax around sunset time.

But if you are coming from North America, the shift in daylight can be more dramatic than what you may have expected. You might even need an eye mask if you plan on getting to sleep at your usual time.

They have cool souvenirs

I really love the souvenirs at Easter Island!

It’s going be almost impossible for you to leave that island without some type of moai-inspired souvenir.

You’ll find them in all different types of shapes and sizes. Take your time and check out several different shops to see what you like the most.

The skies are ridiculously dark

If you’ve never experienced truly dark skies, Easter Island is the place to do it. 

Even better, if you’re coming from the US or an equivalent latitude in the northern hemisphere, you’ll be able to see the Southern night sky!

My biggest regret was not doing a stargazing tour with a telescope but our plans just didn’t align with the open dates for that. But even if you don’t book a proper stargazing tour, you can just go out to any area on the island and appreciate the beautiful night sky.

Watching shooting stars blaze through the night sky over towering moai is a true bucket-list worthy experience.

Roads are not the best

The roads are not the best and mostly consist of what looked like set stone roads but they are still very doable and not as bad as I thought it would be.

Some of the dirt roads are pretty bumpy and quickly get filled with large puddles — the potholes can be a little treacherous so watch out for those!

But unless you are traveling around during or after heavy downpour, you won’t have issues getting around, even without having a 4×4.

There’s great seafood

If you like seafood, Easter Island will impress. We had some fantastic ceviche, tuna, lobster, and shrimp and there are plenty of other tasty food options out there.

Spanish is the way to go but you can get by with English

If you can speak Spanish, or just broken Spanish like me, that can get your pretty far on Easter island.

Some people do speak the “Chilean style” of Spanish which is pretty fast and that can be difficult to communicate with for people like myself.

But a lot of the locals also know a bit of broken English so you can generally work out transactions without much of a problem.

The only issue is that because you probably won’t have access to data on your phone, it can be hard to translate things whenever there is a problem.

Beaches are few but beautiful!

Easter Island does not have a lot of beaches.

It’s mostly jagged volcanic cliffs along the coastline, which are quite stunning. However, there are a couple of beaches that I thought were pretty beautiful and they are right next to each other. You want to check out: Ovahe and Anakena.

You might also find come across a couple of hidden cove with beautiful mini beaches, so be on the lookout for those!

The annual festival is in early February

Easter Island puts on an annual festival in early February called Tapati Rapa Nui that celebrates their history and culture.

It looks like an enjoyable time filled with nighttime festivities and daytime competitions, but it can be hard to find flights during this time so if you plan on visiting the island during the first couple of weeks of February you need to make operations well in advance!

Final word

As you would probably expect, Easter Island is a very different place. I’d suggest really thinking about all of the factors above and how you can best prepare for them.

If you do that, I can guarantee you that you will have a smoother stay as you’ll be much more prepared than the average tourist!

Guide for getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) to Rapa Nui/Easter Island [2023]

Getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) on your way to Rapa Nui/Easter island is a little bit different from a typical domestic flight and in this article, I will break down everything you need to know.

Filling out the Rapa Nui Entry Form

First, you probably want to fill out your Rapa Nui Entry Form before you ever arrive at Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL). You can fill out the form online here.

It only takes a couple of minutes to fill out but you will need to know:

  • Flight departure number and date
  • Seat (optional)
  • Country of origin or previous connection
  • Country of nationality
  • Document type (e.g., passport)
  • Document number (e.g., passport number)
  • Phone number
  • Flight departure
  • Contact information
  • Hotel

You will need to select the type of visiting status you have which will be “tourist” for lots of people.

For your hotel status, you can just select the first hotel that you will be staying at as we had three separate hotels during our stay.

Very shortly after you submit your form, you should receive an email confirmation. It is this email confirmation that you are going to print out and show at the airport so be sure to have it ready. (It basically summarizes all of your key details.)

We actually struggled to receive the email confirmation on a couple of occasions so if that happens to you, try to fill out and submit the form with a Google incognito browser. As soon as we tried that, it worked.

(We ended up submitting several forms but it did not end up causing any issues thankfully.)

When you arrive at the airport, you will need to head to the terminal for domestic flights known as Terminal Nacional (T1). Even though it is a domestic flight, LATAM recommended us to arrive four hours early due to potentially long lines.

We were arriving at around 5AM so I thought this was overkill but the airport was actually pretty busy during those early hours.

The reason why you would want to arrive early is because after you drop off your bags, you will have to go through an additional checkpoint which I will talk about in a second.

Checking bags to Rapa Nui/Easter Island

If you have bags to check, you can head to the standard check-in area for LATAM. We were flying business class so we took advantage of a very short line in the Premier check-in area but the line was already pretty long for economy.

Make sure that you have your Rapa Nui Entry Form ready because you will need to show it here at baggage check-in as well as at the security checkpoint later on.

We checked our bag and then headed back down some stairs and through a couple of long hallways to get to the checkpoint specifically designed for Easter island.

You will know whenever you hit the checkpoint because other domestic passengers will be directed to go in a different direction. Also, you can look for the signs which should be easy to find and those will direct you where to go for Rapa Nui/Easter Island.

We arrived at the security checkpoint a little under four hours prior to departure and there were already a dozen or so people in this area.

It’s essentially a small waiting area with some seats but they get taken up pretty quickly so you might have to be standing around or sitting on the floor if the area is particularly busy.

The checkpoint is directly adjacent to this area and the speed at which you go through may vary similar to customs and immigration.

At this checkpoint all we had to show was our passport and the Rapa Nui Entry Form. They did not ask us to provide any verification status for our vaccine status or even itineraries for the hotel stay or round trip.

That’s not to say that they won’t ask you those things, so it will be best to come prepared with all of those printed out and organized inside of a folder.

At the time of this article in February, 2023, they require proof of a negative Covid test if you do not have a vaccination but it’s possible that it could be changing.

While we were able to get through quickly, there were a couple of passengers who took a lot longer to get through. Why exactly that was the reason, I’m not sure. (From the time that they opened up the station to the time that we got through, it was about 15 minutes.)

After you get through the checkpoint, then you are free to head to your gate. You’ll be happy to know that there are no further checks for anything until you arrive in Easter island!

Just be aware that this process could be changed in the future. I have a feeling that Easter island will always require additional documents or verification so that they can keep extra close tabs on who is entering the island but the exact process could change.

Final word

Overall, the process of getting through the airport at SCL to Rapa Nui/Easter island is not quite as bad as it might appear. As long as you fill out your form, and have the requested documents on hand, you should not have a problem.