Places of Interest, Easter Island, Pacific Ocean


Should you make it to Easter Island (Rapa Nui), also known as “Isa de Pascua”, what is there to do? Effectively, the entire island could be seen as a giant open-air museum. It is a fascinating place or those who revel in archaeology, petroglyphs, ancient history, and artefacts, but Easter Island is much more than that.

It is, perhaps, one of the most “mystical” places on Earth. It is a “pinprick” of land amid the massive, Pacific Ocean and totally remote from all other inhabited corners of the World. That reality is what makes Easter Island so special, and one of the places to visit when you can.

However, it is not a “stereo typical” tropical paradise, so do not come here if that is what you want.

The Key Places

Among the numerous sites to visit the key places that any newcomer should see are:

Rano Raraku Volcano and Quarry

This is where the Moai’s were carved out from the volcanic rock, and where many finished Moai’s are scattered around as well as some left unfinished in the quarry wall.

Ahu Tongariki

The Ahu Tongariki, close to Rano Raraku, has 15 upright Moai’s on an Ahu, all in a line with the dramatic high cliff backdrop of Poike Volcano and the Pacific Ocean.

Rano Kau Volcano

Many aerial pictures of Easter Island show a large, circular, water-filled volcanic crater covered with clumps of vegetation and this is the Rano Kau Volcano. Fascinating to see, close to Orongo village and incredible views from the crater rim.


The ancient village of Orongo, near to Hanga Roa and just off the rim of the Rano Kau Volcano. Here there are ancient, stone huts with immense significance to the history of the culture of the Island.

Anakena Beach

Only if you seek a trip to the beach, this is the one to come to. Sandy with turquoise-coloured sea, warm water, tropical fish in the water and coconut, palm trees in the background.


The “stars” of the Island are, of course, the vast Moai Statues and the questions that accompany them such as who built them? How were they put into position? And why?
More information below on two key locations for Moai.

Easter Island is Not the Caribbean

Coming to Easter Island is not like going to a Caribbean Island, or Tahiti insomuch that is it not a typical, tropical paradise island with lots of golden, sandy beaches and palm trees, no. Nor does it have any high-rise hotels or apartment blocks either. It is, as we say, rustic and undeveloped – thank goodness!

It is a volcanically-created island and its coast is almost entirely made up of sharp and rugged ancient lava flows, and vertical cliffs that meet the Pacific Ocean, apart from a few “gaps” where beaches have been established.

How Long Should I Plan for Easter Island?

In our view you should plan for a minimum of four nights on Easter Island, but if you have the luxury of time and money, make it five, only to be able to enjoy the sensation of being “totally cut off” from the World.

Normally, your time would be occupied by having a rest day on day one, followed by two days touring the historical and geographical sights and a final fourth day doing an activity or relaxing.

In addition, depending on the weather, there are boat tours from the small harbour, Hanga Piko at Hanga Roa, as well as kayak, canoeing, diving and snorkelling, hiking and biking options.

Other activities are to get up early to see the sun rise at the Ahu Tongariki location, horse ride, visit caves that were used by the indigenous people as shelters and lookouts, and trek from Hanga Roa village all the way around to Anakena beach, among other trails.

The Right Hotel Matters

However, if you are at the right hotel, which is where we can help, you will be able to enjoy time by the pool on relaxing days and just absorb the remoteness, which, in itself is a unique experience on this Island. If we arrange for you an all-inclusive program and one of the top hotels you will have guided tours, shows and comfort to enjoy.

Below we will talk about only the principal places of interest, however, when on the Island you will find that there are many more.

Moai’s and Ahu’s

What is an Ahu?
An Ahu, is the name given to the mound that supports standing Moai Statues.

Easter Island is, literally, covered with sites where there are Ahu’s with Moais standing upright, as well as one particular place where Moais are not yet finished, and half embedded in the ground – at Rano Raraku, the quarry.

Ahu Tongariki

The Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial Ahu to have been constructed on the Island and also considered to be the most significant megalithic monument in all of Polynesia.

Upon the Ahu Tongari (the name means easterly wind) are 15 upright Moai, facing inward to the Island, as opposed to facing out to sea.

This Ahu is located near the Rano Raraku Quarry. If standing in front of the line of Moai’s, looking at the Ahu with the sea behind, on the left, on the southern side of the Poike volcano, there is a high cliff face that drops vertically down to the Ocean below creating quite a dramatic view. However, if you turn around so that the Ahu is behind you, to the left (if looking from the sea) is where the Rano Raraku Volcano and Moai quarry is located.

Therefore, a trip to see this Ahu can also include seeing the Moai quarry.

The main base of the Ahu measures about 100m in length and has extensions that make the full length closer to 200m and this has been constructed to be aligned with the rising of sun during the summer solstice.


After a major 9.5 Richter scale earthquake on mainland Chile (epicentre Valdivia) on the 22 May 1960, a tsunami wave was generated, which travelled across the Pacific and hit Easter Island with all its force. The wave is estimated to have been 10m in height and travelled inland to the Rano Raraku Quarry, which is some 1km inland from the coast and about 1.5km from Ahu Tongariki. Hango Roa village, being on the other side of the Island escaped any damage. The consequence of the tsunami was that the Ahu at Tongariki was destroyed with the Moai’s being toppled and pushed inland by about 100 meters. However, a few months later a massive restoration project managed to put the Moais back on the Ahu and once again upright.

Also, close to this sacred site are petroglyphs both at the base of the Ahu and on a wall about 200m in front of the Ahu.

Ahu Tahai

Close to Hanga Roa village is the Ahu Tahai, comprising three ceremonial Ahu’s, making it the largest and best restored archaeological site near to the village.

Known to be one of the oldest archaeological sites on Easter Island, and one which was a village in its own right, dating back to 700AD. From here there is a slope that leads down to a natural inlet enabling easy access to the sea for fishing as well as a supply of potable water from underground springs.

The area covered measures around 200m west to east and 250m north to south. In order to create more of a level area, the settlers had to fill it with thousands of cubic metres of stone and earth and then level it out.

The Moai

The main reason to come to Easter Island is to get to one of the remotest places of Earth – that, in itself, is something unique and exciting to spend a few nights on a tiny dot of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

However, in addition to this “thrill”, Easter Island is all about “mystery” and ancient history connected to its Moai Statue heritage.

Although there are over 800 Moias on the Island, at various locations, here we will highlight the place where there is the greatest concentration of statues, which is at the Quarry on the side of the Rano Raraku Volcano. Here, there are several hundred Moai heads sticking up out of the ground, with the body buried under the earth, then there are others lying down, some at angles, large statues and smaller statues. In addition, there are Moai’s still embedded into the rock, half carved, left as though the people here doing the work had to “suddenly go”.


Even though Easter Island is a rustic place it does have two quite nice sandy beaches, one with a palm tree backdrop, but these are small beaches. And, in addition, it has an even smaller beach at Hanga Roa village, plus an adjacent natural sea-water inlet, which is used like a bathing pool.

The more traditional, sandy beaches are called Anakena (about 18km out from Hanga Roa and the main beach) and Ovahe, like a small, sandy cove, also close by to Anakena (1km away).

Anakena Beach

The water here is a warm 20ºC and turquoise in colour, often with exotic fish swimming close to those bathing. And, at Anakena Beach the scene does look to be in line with the “stereo typical” Caribbean-type place, but on a very small scale. The sand is a white colour and there is a backdrop of swaying, coconut palm trees that were introduced from Tahiti about thirty years ago. Therefore, if a beach holiday is your desire, yes, you can have the beach experience here, but this should not be your main reason to come to Easter Island. Tours usually arrive in the afternoon, therefore, the time when least people visit is the morning. The transfer time here from Hanga Roa takes around 30min.

Ovahe Beach

This is known as the second “sandy” beach on Easter Island and only 1.5km from Anakena. It is much smaller than the Anakena Beach and “less exotic”, but it is also a lot less busy.

Noted for its “natural, wild beauty”, and being in a cove with high, red-coloured cliff sides that give the sand a pinkish tint, combined with the turquoise-coloured water make for a nice scene.

At one period in history the some of the indigenous settlers lived here and there is still evidence of caves in the cliffs to support this as well as an ancient burial ground (or crematorium). In 2012 a large ocean swell impacted the cliffs and dislodged a section to reveal archaeological remains, including bones dating back 200 years.

This beach cove is also one of the sites for original Rapa Nui flora such as the Boerhavia Acutifolia.

Hanga Roa Beaches

Pea Beach & Poko Poko Pool
Easily accessible from Hanga Roa village is Pea Beach, together with an adjacent natural inlet called Poko Poko (which means bowl or deep plate in the Rapa Nui language). Both are located at a place called Hanga Vare Vare. This area (hanga Vare Vare) is like an English village green, an open, grass-covered space where events are often held.

In fact, there is wall that separates Pea Beach from the Poko Poko “lagoon” and on this promontory is a restaurant offering not only food, but a fine view of the Ocean, especially when the sun sets. It should be noted that Pea beach is very short, but there is sand and if you get the space you can lie on the beach.

At Pea Beach it is possible to watch local teenagers surf the waves, often using natural reed-made boards, as well as spot sea turtles in the water near the shore.

For those in hotels in Hanga Roa, as well as residents, these areas offer bathing in the sea without having to drive 18km out to the Anakena and Ovahe beaches.

In addition, close to this area is the sacred “Ahu Tautira” (an Ahu is the mound upon which a Moai, or Moais stand), and here are two Moais.

Also in this sector is a small boardwalk leading to the Hanga Roa Otai Cove and opposite is the Municipal Stadium, inaugurated by Brazilian Football legend Pelé.


The Island is a result of various underwater volcanic eruptions that breached the ocean surface over hundreds of thousands of years, whereupon the hot lava cooled to form volcanic rock (all are currently dormant). However, there are three volcanoes that are largely responsible for the final, triangular shape, and creation of the Easter Island we know of today: Rano Kau, Poike and Maunga Terevaka volcanoes; and two volcanos, Rano Raraku and Puna Pau generated the stone used to create the giant Moai’s.

Rano Raraku is the volcano where the quarry from where the Moai’s were carved from and one of the main places to visit.

Orongo Ceremonial Village

There is a walking trail from a lookout point at the rim of the Rano Kau Volcano, where it is possible to walk along part of the rim offering exceptional views over the volcano crater and Pacific Ocean beyond. However, there is also an important ceremonial village here as well called Orongo considered to be the most interesting archaeological locations on the Island.

It is said that the village of Orongo was inhabited, on occasion, by the chiefs of the ancient tribes who competed against one another in the spring, to bring back from the rocky islets in the Pacific opposite Orongo, the first egg of the “Manutara Bird” (sea gull). This competition was called the “Tangata Manu” (“Bird Man”) contest.

Bird Man Contest

One aspect of this competition was to dive from considerable height, down into the Pacific and swim to one of the islets about 1km away, capture a seagull’s egg and swim back. It is obvious that to dive down into the Ocean from a great height and swim a significant distance in the ocean required great strength and stamina. Very much like an “iron man” contest of today.

Orongo Houses

The stone houses at Orongo have been dated back to around 1400AD. It has been determined that there were 54 houses lined up on the edge of the Volcano crater, in three groups, all facing the Ocean.

Unfortunately, early European explorers looted and destroyed many of these houses.


The small, mainly circular dwellings were constructed from basalt, stone slabs found at the edges of the volcanic crater to provide 2m-wide, thick walls. The roofs were created from placing thinner, longer slabs horizontally across the walls. These were then covered over with smaller slabs and finished off with small stones, earth, and grass, which grew. This was not only totally environmentally friendly, it also offered protection from the elements and maintained an agreeable internal temperature. The floors are oval in shape with a length of between 6 to 12m and a maximum height of 2m. It is assumed that due to the difficulty to stand up inside these buildings and also with very narrow, low entry access that these shelters were likely only for sleeping.

In many of these huts, figures of the “Tangata Manu” (Bird Man) have been found along with the figure of the “Ao” (a ceremonial Staff in the shape of an oar), human faces and the mask of the “God” “Make Make”. In addition, there are images of European sailing ships (also found in a cave called Ana Kai Tangata).

One of the most surprising artefacts discovered at Orongo is a Moai carved from basalt. Called “Hoa Hakananai’a”, the statue measures 2.5m in height and is unique because basalt is the hardest rock to cut. It was found, half buried, in a dwelling in the central part of the village and extracted by the crew of an English ship called Topaze in 1868 and installed at the British Museum in London.

Incredibly, around the village the rocks are adorned with over 1,700 carved petroglyphs.

Above is only a sample of the history surrounding the village of Oroga, There is a lot more, some of it myth, some of it speculation. If you can get to this place, please make sure the guide explains it all.

Evening Shows

For the evenings there is usually a great show performed by Rapa Nui inhabitants demonstrating, through dance moves accompanied with live music, dramatized preparation before a tribe battle and heavy flirting moves by each sex to woo the opposite sex. These shows are very much in line with the Polynesian culture, of which Easter Island is considered to be.

These shoes require prearranged tickets.

Places of Interest Around Hanga Roa Village

Fishermen’s Warfs

The entire coastline of Easter Island comprises hard, jagged volcanic rock, apart for the couple of breaks where sand has created a beach. There are no natural harbours, which why large boats and ships cannot get close to shore, but there are some small coves where local fisherman can operate from. Here we will disclose the two located on the coast of Hanga Roa village because they can be interesting places to visit, especially when the fishing boats return with their catch.

Hanga Roa Otai

Located in an area behind a residential sector is the small inlet called Hanga Roa Oyai. Here, a handful of artisanal fishermen keep their boats. This is also where moderate sized cargo boats, with a low draft, can get into and unload their cargo, but their entrance depends totally on the weather conditions such is the difficulty to navigate into the small port.

Hanga Piko

If you walk along the waterfront of Hanga Roa you will come across a small, square-like harbour where there are a number of small fishing boats. This harbour is called Hanga Piko. This is like the “main hub” for Hanga Roa shore activity.

This is the main place for the small fishing vessels as well as a key where passengers disembark from their tender from larger cruise ships that are anchored offshore.
Also, along the quay are a few scuba diving operators, as well as boat trip and kayak services.

Just to the right of this small harbour is the Pea Beach, an outdoor restaurant and then the natural inlet lagoon of Poko Poko.

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