Easter Island Back to Chile

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Between 3 million and 300,000 years ago, three under-water volcanoes erupted and created a landmass—shaped in a near perfect triangle—that lay uninhabited until Polynesians arrived, sometime between 400 and 700AD. The first Westerner to set eyes upon the mystical land, a Dutch sailor named Jacob Roggeveen, arrived on Easter Sunday in 1722, naming it Easter Island, though it is called Rapa Nui by locals and Isla de Pascua by Chileans (the island is governed by Chile). After visiting in 1872, the French poet Pierre Loti described the island as “a half fantastic land, a land of dreams.”

Cheat Sheet

Lay of the Land

“It astounded her, really, how completely the island bared itself to the sun. Almost as if shadows, too, had become extinct.”
~Jennifer Vanderbes

About the size of Martha’s Vineyard (and coincidentally, similarly shaped), Easter Island is a perfect triangle, its three corners created by volcanoes that erupted from the sea. The widest length only reaches 15 miles and the island’s circumference could in fact be walked in a single day. The only town, Hanga Roa, and the airport sit to the southwest, and each of the three corners of the island are capped with an extinct volcano. The 1,000 famed Easter Island heads are located throughout the island, mostly bordering the sea, and at the Rona Raraku quarry.

The current lack of trees on the island has long been a mystery to scientists and archaeologists, and makes for a barren—but beautiful—landscape. Perhaps this lack of forests allows for the eye to absorb vast distances, creating a landscape that seems larger than it is.

Although technically in the same time zone as the Central zone of the U.S. (ie Chicago), Easter Island doesn’t get light until 8:30am, leading guests to get the impression that the time zone is just a few hours “off.” The ideal Easter Island visit is 4-5 nights, allowing time to see all the sights and to recover after lengthy flights. Americans can now fly to Easter Island via Lima (rather than Santiago, further south), shaving a few hours off flying time, and it is recommended to spend a night or two in Lima (or Santiago) before leaving for Easter Island.

When to Go

Easter Island’s temperature rarely dips below 60° or rises above 80° and constant breezes keep the climate cool. Rain is relatively rare, but May sees more precipitation than other months. Tapatai is an island-wide festival that runs from the end of January until the beginning of February and includes celebrations and competitions. The island’s high season is from October through April.

Getting There

Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world, lying roughly equidistant—about 2,500 miles—east of Tahiti and west of Chile. The 5-½ hour flights from Lima and Santiago leave multiple times per week. A tip for those coming from the US: flying via Lima shaves three hours off the overall flying time.

Getting Around

Explora’s excursions include all transportation and any tour guides hired by guests of Hangaroa Eco Village will provide transport. Failing this, both hotels can call radio taxis. For ultimate freedom, Insular rents cars by the hour or day (Atamu Tekena 56 32 2100 480; www.rentainsular.cl). Scooters and ATVs are also available for rental, but poor roads would make for a dusty and bumpy ride.

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Beyond… Easter Island

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