Easter Island, known locally as Rapa Nui is the most remote inhabited island in the world, being some 2,400 miles from Santiago de Chile, way out into the Pacific Ocean. It may officially be a part of Chile but in location and heritage it is firmly Polynesian. There has been much speculation as to how the once strong community of Easter Island dwindled to almost nothing, before finally gaining a resurgence with support from the mainland.
For many years, it was believed the islanders themselves were to blame by mishandling their natural resources but more recent evidence indicates that it could have been the arrival of Europeans themselves that weakened the community here to near extinction. Whatever the truth behind the theories, Rapa Nui culture is once more alive and kicking.
The island is dotted with a spectacular collection of hundreds of mysterious moai, huge statues carved in stone, some reaching a height of up to six metres, lined up on raised platforms and staring out to sea. There are many more that are still incomplete, residing in the quarries where they were once being carved.
These statues form an eerie and ever present backdrop to exploration of the island. Uncover also the island’s petroglyphs, stylised body painting, unique gastronomy, dance, music and a hieroglyphic writing known as rongo rongo, which still has not been fully deciphered. All these archaeological wonders are set amid some stunning geological formations from volcanic craters to lava formations and pristine beaches surrounded by azure blue waters on this sub-tropical island.
Time your visit to coincide with Tapati Rapa Nui Festival in early February, which celebrates Rapa Nui ancestral customs through music, dances, typical costumes and other ancient traditions and sporting events such as the Haka Pei (involving sliding down the side of a volcano on banana trunks!) or the triathlon. This is an event organised by the locals for the locals although they very much welcome visitors who come to watch, and even participate!
This truly unique and remote speck of land in the Pacific is most decidedly worthy of an extra journey by air from Santiago on your bespoke Chile holiday. We can arrange for you to hike up its highest volcano, Terevaka, scuba dive amid the coral reefs of its waters and even sample an Umu, a traditional Polynesian method of underground cooking.