Rapa Nui Rapture: Hello Paradise!

When I left on my RTW trip, my mother had one main worry and request: that I please, please don’t decide to stay in New Zealand or Australia and settle down at the other end of the world! So I heard her, and instead of New Zealand or Australia, I have set my sights on… Easter Island!

Yes: of all the places I could fall in love with, it had to be this tiny island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, 3,512 km – and a 4-hour flight – from the nearest continental point.

Rapa Nui seascape
Lost at sea: the mysterious Rapa Nui

For those of you who only vaguely know it by name, Easter Island, a.k.a. ‘Rapa Nui’ in the island’s native Maori language, is located halfway between Chile and French-speaking Tahiti. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, it is a special territory of Chile, although its culture is inspired by a rich mix of Polynesian and Maori traditions. According to the island’s last census, it has a population of 3791, with the quasi-totality of the residents living in the only ‘town’, Hanga Roa.

With a superficy of 166 km2, the island has two official languages, Spanish and Rapa Nui, and its inhabitants are also called – you’ve guessed it – Rapa Nui! Of course, it is mostly famous for being the home of the intriguing, giant carved statues known as moai that are sprinkled all around the island.

When I was young, my father had a big coffee table book full of pictures of the moai – and relating the various theories about their mysterious origins – which absolutely fascinated me. So, when I had the opportunity to include the island as a stop on my RTW ticket, I didn’t have to think about it twice!

Rapa Nui Tahai moai
I was keen to meet those guys…

As I began to plan my visit however, I was a little phased by some of the blog posts and comments I kept coming across describing the island as ‘boring’, ‘disappointing’ and ‘not worth spending more than one or two days on’. Could it really be?

Well, what I found when I arrived on the island was a quiet little paradise, blessed with stunning scenery, plenty of archeological and cultural wonders, a near-perfect climate nurturing lush vegetation, and some of the friendliest people I’d ever met. Somewhere that managed to be at once more traditional AND much more modern than I’d expected…

Rapa Nui coast

Day 1

With only two days and a half on the island, there was no time to waste – so, after changing into some lighter clothing to adjust to the summery weather, I decided to forget all about my serious sleep deprivation, and immediately set off on my first exploratory walk of the island… which took me to picturesque Hanga Roa bay and the nearby moai sites:

Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui
One of Hanga Roa’s main streets


Hanga Roa church, Rapa Nui
The local chuch


Hanga Roa Bay, Easter Island
Quaint, colourful Hanga Roa Bay…


Hanga Roa Bay moai, Easter Island
…overlooked by its own moai


Hanga Roa Bay with moai, Easter Island
So pretty I couldn’t get enough of it!

It was there I first sighted these strange creatures:

Easter Island lone moai

Easter Island weird moai

Easter Island moai

Coming face to face with my first moai was a rather amazing feeling, and as I followed the archeological path I was also pleasantly surprised at how tourist-free the place was: in fact, I was pretty much alone there. The coastal path was punctuated by outdoor gyms where you could do your fitness and body-building exercises facing the ocean and the statues… as well as herds of wild horses:

Rapa Nui wild horses

Rapa Nui horse

My hike took me to the Tahai site, which features a line-up of six individuals (well, four still standing…) and one of the few moai with eyes:

Rapa Nui Tahai overview

Easter Island, Tahai alignment

Easter Island, Tahai moai with eyes

Easter Island moai with goggles

After walking for three hours, I turned back and regained my camping ground… where I suddenly realized I was about to drop dead and, embarrassingly, went to bed at 7pm..!

 

To be continued… check out the rest of of my Easter Island adventures in Part 2 .

 

Easter Island, bore or beauty – what’s your verdict so far? Have you always dreamed of going to legendary Rapa Nui? Let me know in the comments below!

If you would like to follow the rest of my adventures, consider subscribing to the blog to receive all updates by email, and connecting with Camille in Wonderlands on Facebook, where I regularly post snapshots and musings that haven’t made it onto the site.

 

Camille

Hey, I'm Camille! I quit my life to travel the world in 2013 – and I haven’t stopped since! I have visited 40+ countries as a location-independent travel/lifestyle writer and digital marketer. I like hammocks, scooters, eating, and scaring my mother trying adventure sports! I was chosen as a top travel influencer by Influence.co, and have co-founded Helipad Marketing to help travel & lifestyle brands soar with killer online marketing.

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2 thoughts on “Rapa Nui Rapture: Hello Paradise!”

  1. Très intéressant. Nous attendons la suite…
    Ces sculptures ont-elles une signification religieuse ? Sait-on qui les a dressées, quand, comment et pourquoi?
    Et de quoi vivent les habitants ? Uniquement du tourisme ? Se sentent-ils isolés sur leur petite île ? Sont-ils plus tournés vers le Chili ou vers le reste de la Polynésie (essentiellement française) ? Parlent-ils rapa nui ou espagnol dans la vie quotidienne ?
    Y a-t-il une faune qu’on trouve uniquement sur cette île ?

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