We spent 5 days exploring Easter Island back in May 2017. While sticking to a budget we still managed to visit the entire island by car, bike and by foot for around €600 each! Here are our favorite places, that for us, cannot be missed.
1. Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki
This is probably the most meticulously restored Ahu on the island. Here, you can see 15 standing Moai. Only one however wears its Pukao! 220 metres long, Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial platform in Polynesia. Watching the sunrise was probably our favourite moment on Easter Island. What a chance to be standing in front of the Pacific Ocean with these giants overlooking at us while the sun pokes out of the low clouds behind them. A must-do.
Tip #1: Take off early from town so you can stargaze alone before entering the site.
Tip #2: Check the weather! We noticed we would only have one morning on the island without rain. So we made sure to see the sunrise that morning. Everyone else we met had clouds & rain and the photos didn’t look as impressive.
2. Swim at Anakena Beach
This white sand beach is dotted by tall palm trees and hosts a Ahu of 7 standing Moai. Behind them, the clear blue water of the Pacific Ocean is undoubtedly calling you for a swim. The water is shallow and as the sun rays break through the clouds, you know you are the luckiest person on earth.
Tip: Try to visit in the morning to avoid the crowds, as the organised tours have lunch here.
3. Spend the afternoon at Rano Raraku
This is the birthplace of the Moai. It also offers one of the most beautiful views of Ahu Tongariki and the Pacific Ocean. We loved walking around the paths, bringing us from one Moai to another. All of them now stuck for eternity at a different stage of carving. You can spot half buried statues and a couple still attached to the volcanic rock.
Tip: hike up to the crater for a relaxing time alone by the lake.
4. Watch the sunset at Ahu Tahai
Ahu Tahai is such a beautiful place. We watched the sunset here 3 times out of our 4 nights on the island! It is the closest Ahu from Honga Roa town and there is a very large area to sit down, read a book and relax while waiting for the sunset. Bring something to drink and snack on!
Tip : Do not seat on the forbidden sections, a ranger will shout and whistle at you. Bring drinks and food and relax after a long day.
5. Learn about bird-man at Orongo
Close to town, on the edge of the volcano Rario Kau, you can visit the Orongo village that once was used for the Bird-man ceremony. There, you can see the stone houses that were restored. What we thought was the most amazing part are the stories regarding the annual egg collection competition and the Bird-man cult.
Tip: There is a nice walk along the saddle of the crater. The views over the rest of the island and the ocean are spectacular.
6. Cycle to the caves on the west coast
The rocky path that leads north west from Honga Roa is only accessible to bikes and hikers. The road follows very rough cliffs where you can find incredible caves. These caves were once used by the islanders to hide from the rival tribes or to prepare the young man participating to the egg collection competition.
Tip: Finding the entrances are not easy. When you find one cave, walk until you find the other exit!
7. The only Moai’s facing the sea
Ahu Akivi is another site that has been restored by the archeologists. This site is very special as the Maoi are facing the ocean instead of looking inland. They are thought to have been erected this way to help outsiders finding the island. This is on only Ahu on the island built like this. This is also a very good place to watch the sunset if you have a car.
Tip: The Ahu is also known to be a celestial observatory as the stars align with the platform during the spring and autumn equinoxes.
8. Hike to the 1km large crater lake
The southern volcano of the island Rario Kau is easily accessible by a short hike from the town of Hanga Roa. This spectacular natural amphitheater hosts one of the only three fresh water sources on the island. From the edge of the crater you can see the damaged caused by the ocean, which step by step erodes one of the crater’s side. From there the views of the Pacific Ocean, Motu Nui (Birdman’s island) and most of the island is incredible.
Tip: The most suitable time to visit the Rano Kau crater is in the morning as the sun will reflect on the lake.
If you want to read more about Easter Island, all there is to do, how to visit and what is the budget for a 5-days trip, check out our ultimate guide for a self-guided tour.
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