Best Things to Do in Easter Island: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Easter Island
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Are you thinking about visiting Easter Island this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Easter Island. These enigmatic sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Easter Island (or Rapa Nui), is a place that captures the imagination like no other. Nestled in the vast Pacific Ocean, this remote island is a world of its own, brimming with ancient mysteries and natural wonders. If you’ve ever daydreamed about standing in the shadow of the iconic moai statues, or walking along the rugged coastlines where history whispers through the winds, then Easter Island is calling your name. Amidst this enchanting landscape in Chile, there are a myriad of things to do in Easter Island that promise to make your journey truly unforgettable.

But let’s get one thing straight: Easter Island isn’t just a one-trick pony. Sure, the moai are the island’s poster children, but there’s so much more to explore. Think volcanic craters, hidden beaches, and cultural experiences that will make you feel like a time traveler. This is a destination where adventure and discovery are the daily norms, and where each sunset feels like a curtain closing on a day well-lived.

So, if you’re itching to venture into the unknown, you’ve come to the right place. This article is your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Easter Island, from the must-see attractions to the hidden gems that most tourists never get to experience. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Easter Island.

The top places to visit in Easter Island right now
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Best Places to Visit in Easter Land

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Easter Island? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this captivating vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Easter Island places to visit.

Are you looking to engage in captivating archaeological explorations to uncover ancient mysteries? Or would you prefer wandering among monumental statues or participating in traditional rituals? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Easter Island can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Easter Island that you should know about.

1. Ahu Tongariki

When it comes to the coolest things to do in Easter Island, nothing is more iconic than a visit to the towering moai statues. And there’s no better place to witness these enigmatic figures than at Ahu Tongariki. With 15 moai lined up like ancient sentinels, this site is a photographer’s dream and a history buff’s paradise.

But here’s the kicker: Ahu Tongariki isn’t just about snapping photos and moving on. It’s a place that demands contemplation. As you stand before these colossal figures, you’ll feel a connection to the island’s rich past and the people who crafted these masterpieces. Wondering about what to do in Easter Island? Start by soaking in the aura of Ahu Tongariki at sunrise; it’s a spiritual experience that words can hardly describe.

Thinking about where to go in Easter Island to know its history? Ahu Tongariki is the answer. Whether you’re a solo traveler or with a group, make sure to hire a local guide. They’ll provide invaluable insights into the history and significance of the moai, enriching your visit tenfold.

Ahu Tongariki is one of the best things to do in Easter Island.
Explore the iconic Ahu Tongariki, where 15 towering moai statues await on Easter Island.

2. Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach, where the sand is as white as the clouds and the water as clear as crystal. If you’re curious about the activities in Easter Island that don’t involve ancient statues, look no further. This beach is a slice of paradise that offers a different kind of island experience.

Now, you might be thinking, “A beach is a beach, right?” Not quite. Anakena isn’t just any beach; it’s a place steeped in Rapa Nui mythology. Legend has it that this is where the island’s first king, Hotu Matu’a, landed. So, while you’re sunbathing or snorkeling, you’re also soaking up centuries of history.

Now, let’s talk about activities. From paddleboarding to beach volleyball, Anakena offers some of the coolest activities in Easter Island. And if you’re a foodie, don’t miss the chance to try some freshly grilled seafood from local vendors. It’s a culinary delight that captures the essence of island life.

When planning for your Easter Island places to visit, make sure Anakena Beach is on that list. It’s an experience that combines leisure, history, and culture in one stunning package. As such, it’s no wonder this is among the top spots in South America.

Anakena Beach boasts white sand and crystal-clear waters, offering a different kind of Easter Island experience.
Anakena Beach boasts white sand and crystal-clear waters, offering a different kind of Easter Island experience.

3. Rano Kau Volcano

Welcome to Rano Kau Volcano. Picture this: you’re standing on the edge of a volcanic crater, gazing down at a tapestry of vibrant colors created by floating reeds and microorganisms. It’s a sight that will leave you speechless, and it’s only a short drive from the island’s main town, Hanga Roa.

The volcano’s crater is home to Orongo, a ceremonial village that played a crucial role in the Birdman cult, a part of Rapa Nui’s intriguing past. So, you’re not just hiking; you’re walking through the pages of history.

What makes this one of the best things to do in Easter Island? Well, the hike itself is an adventure. The trail winds through varying landscapes, from lush forests to barren volcanic rock, offering panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking.

Explore Rano Kau Volcano, a short drive from Hanga Roa, for stunning natural colors created by reeds and microorganisms.
Explore Rano Kau Volcano, a short drive from Hanga Roa, for stunning natural colors created by reeds and microorganisms.

4. Orongo Village

If you’re planning about where to visit in Easter Island that combines both history and stunning vistas, explore the Orongo Village. Perched on the edge of the Rano Kau Volcano, this ancient ceremonial village offers a glimpse into the island’s fascinating Birdman cult.

Orongo is not just another historical site; it’s a window into the soul of Rapa Nui culture. The village consists of 54 stone houses, petroglyphs, and the ceremonial platform where the Birdman competition took place. This annual event was a test of bravery and skill, where participants would swim to a nearby islet to fetch the first sooty tern egg of the season.

What makes Orongo Village one of the best places in Easter Island? The answer is simple: it’s the blend of cultural richness and natural beauty. As you explore the stone houses and interpret the petroglyphs, you’re also treated to panoramic views of the ocean and the three islets that were central to the Birdman cult.

Explore Orongo Village on Easter Island for a blend of history and stunning vistas, perched on the edge of the Rano Kau Volcano.
Explore Orongo Village on Easter Island for a blend of history and stunning vistas, perched on the edge of the Rano Kau Volcano.

5. Ahu Akivi

Ah, the tranquility of Ahu Akivi—it’s one of those Easter Island attractions that you simply can’t miss. Nestled amidst rolling hills and lush vegetation, this sacred site is home to seven Moai statues that are uncommon for one reason: they face the sea, unlike most Moai that are oriented inland.

What do you think about the vibe? More than a place to snap some photos, Ahu Akivi is a spiritual sanctuary where you can feel the ancient energies of the island. The seven Moai are believed to represent the seven explorers sent by the legendary King Hotu Matu’a before he colonized the island.

For those seeking unique things to do in Easter Island, a visit to Ahu Akivi offers more than just sightseeing. It’s a chance to connect with the island’s mystical past. As you stand in front of these towering figures, you’ll likely feel a sense of awe and wonder, as if the Moai are sharing secrets of a time long gone.

Explore Ahu Akivi, a must-see Easter Island attraction with seven Moai statues facing the sea, set amidst lush hills and unique in their orientation.
Explore Ahu Akivi, a must-see Easter Island attraction with seven Moai statues facing the sea, set amidst lush hills and unique in their orientation.

6. Puna Pau Quarry

If you’re on the hunt for Easter Island places to visit that offer a blend of history and natural beauty, you shouldn’t miss Puna Pau Quarry. This lesser-known site is the birthplace of the Moai’s iconic red topknots, known as pukao.

Visualize that you’re walking through a landscape dotted with massive red scoria rocks, each one holding a story of the island’s past. It’s like stepping into a real-life history book, but with the added bonus of panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Curious about what to do in Easter Island when you’re at Puna Pau? Well, besides marveling at the unfinished pukao, you can also hike the surrounding trails. These paths offer a distinctive vantage point to appreciate the island’s diverse geography, from its volcanic craters to its expansive ocean views.

Puna Pau is often overlooked by tourists. This makes it one of the unique places in Easter Island for those who prefer a more secluded experience. So, if you’re yearning for a slice of Easter Island that’s off the beaten path, make sure Puna Pau Quarry is on your itinerary.

Don't miss Puna Pau Quarry, a site blending history and natural beauty, where the iconic red topknots, known as pukao, were born.
Don’t miss Puna Pau Quarry, a site blending history and natural beauty, where the iconic red topknots, known as pukao, were born.

7. Rapa Nui’s Petroglyphs

The petroglyphs are a must-see among the many Easter Island attractions. These ancient rock carvings offer a fascinating glimpse into the island’s rich cultural history. And let’s be honest, there’s something incredibly magical about standing in front of these intricate designs, knowing they’ve been around for centuries.

So, what’s the scoop on these petroglyphs? They’re not just random carvings; they tell stories of ancestral spirits, legendary heroes, and the island’s distinct mythology. One of the most famous sites to witness these carvings is Orongo, near the Rano Kau volcano, but there are other less-visited spots that are equally captivating.

Try deciphering the petroglyphs! While some are straightforward, like the symbol for ‘man,’ others are complex and open to interpretation. It’s like an open-air museum where you’re the explorer, piecing together the fragments of a long-forgotten world.

And here’s a pro tip: visit during the late afternoon when the sun casts long shadows over the carvings. This makes them even more dramatic and photogenic. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Easter Island? You bet!

Explore captivating petroglyphs, ancient rock carvings that offer a fascinating glimpse into a rich cultural history.
Explore captivating petroglyphs, ancient rock carvings that offer a fascinating glimpse into a rich cultural history.

8. Tapati Festival

If you’re searching for Easter Island things to do that offer a deep dive into local culture, explore the Tapati Festival. Held annually in February, this vibrant event is the epitome of Polynesian spirit and tradition. Imagine a week-long celebration filled with music, dance, and ancient sports, all set against the backdrop of this mysterious island.

Now, you might be wondering, what makes Tapati so special? Well, it’s not just a festival; it’s a fierce competition between two clans who vie for the title of the year’s champion. Participants engage in various challenges, from spearfishing to traditional Rapa Nui dance-offs. It’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Thinking about the best places to go in Easter Island for cultural immersion? The Tapati Festival is your answer. The event is free and open to the public, so you can join in the festivities without breaking the bank. And don’t worry if you’re not a dance pro; the locals are more than happy to teach you a step or two.

So, mark your calendars and make sure to visit during this exhilarating time. It’s a unique blend of culture, competition, and camaraderie that you’ll cherish forever.

Tapati Festival in February is a week-long celebration of Polynesian spirit and tradition on the mysterious island. | Source: http://www.easterislandspirit.com/
Tapati Festival in February is a week-long celebration of Polynesian spirit and tradition on the mysterious island. | Source: http://www.easterislandspirit.com/

9. Ana Kakenga – The Cave of Two Windows

Do you crave a bit of adventure? Ana Kakenga is a must-see in Easter Island. This isn’t your typical cave; it’s a subterranean wonder that offers an unparalleled perspective on the island’s volcanic origins. The cave is known as the “Cave of Two Windows” because it features two openings that provide breathtaking views of the ocean.

As you navigate through the dark, narrow passages, you’ll feel like an explorer uncovering the secrets of a forgotten world. The cave’s interior is adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, adding an extra layer of mystique to your journey. And when you finally reach the windows, the sight that greets you is nothing short of magical: the endless blue of the Pacific framed by rugged cliffs.

Easter Island places to visit often focus on the above-ground wonders, but Ana Kakenga invites you to delve beneath the surface—literally. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but the experience is well worth the effort. Just remember to bring a flashlight and sturdy shoes!

If you’re up for an adventure that combines natural beauty with a dash of the mysterious, Ana Kakenga should be on your itinerary. It’s a cool destination in Easter Island that offers a different kind of thrill.

Ana Kakenga offers unparalleled perspectives on the island's volcanic origins through its two openings, known as the "Cave of Two Windows."
Ana Kakenga offers unparalleled perspectives on the island’s volcanic origins through its two openings, known as the “Cave of Two Windows.”

10. Hanga Roa’s Astronomical Observatory

Stargazing at Hanga Roa’s Astronomical Observatory is a celestial experience you won’t want to miss when it comes to the best things to do in Easter Island. Far removed from the light pollution of major cities, Easter Island offers some of the clearest night skies you’ll ever see. And what better place to take it all in than at an observatory designed to make the most of this natural wonder?

As you peer through high-powered telescopes, you’ll be greeted by a tapestry of stars, planets, and constellations that seem almost close enough to touch. The observatory also offers guided tours where experts explain the significance of the night sky to Rapa Nui culture. You’ll learn about Polynesian navigation techniques, ancient myths, and the islanders’ deep-rooted connection to the cosmos.

If you’re a fan of astronomy or just want to experience something truly awe-inspiring, the observatory should be high on your list of places to visit. It’s not just about looking up; it’s about connecting with a culture that has revered the heavens for generations.

So, grab your telescope or simply come with a sense of wonder. Either way, you’re in for an unforgettable night.

Stargaze at Hanga Roa's Astronomical Observatory for a celestial Easter Island experience with clear night skies far from city lights.
Stargaze at Hanga Roa’s Astronomical Observatory for a celestial Easter Island experience with clear night skies far from city lights.

11. Rano Raraku Quarry

Rano Raraku Quarry is a hidden gem that often flies under the radar if you’re considering Easter Island attractions. This is the birthplace of the island’s iconic Moai statues. As you wander through this open-air museum, you’ll encounter nearly 400 Moai in various stages of completion, frozen in time as if the sculptors just stepped away.

Starting from Hanga Roa, a short drive will bring you to this fascinating site. Once there, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the lush slopes of an extinct volcano, where the Moai were carved directly from the volcanic tuff. It’s a surreal experience, walking among these giants, some of which never made it to their intended ahus (platforms).

Exploring Rano Raraku Quarry is undoubtedly an essential thing to do. Your guide will share intriguing details about the Rapa Nui’s complex carving techniques and the cultural significance of these enigmatic figures. You’ll even find a Moai still attached to the rock face, forever waiting to be freed.

If you’re keen on diving deep into the island’s history and culture, Rano Raraku Quarry is the place to be. It’s an experience that will leave you with a profound sense of awe and wonder. This makes your Easter Island adventure truly unforgettable.

Explore Rano Raraku Quarry, a hidden gem and birthplace of iconic Moai statues, with nearly 400 statues frozen in time at various stages of completion.
Explore Rano Raraku Quarry, a hidden gem and birthplace of iconic Moai statues, with nearly 400 statues frozen in time at various stages of completion.

12. Ovahe Beach

Ah, Ovahe Beach, a slice of paradise that often gets overshadowed by its more famous counterpart, Anakena. But let me tell you, this is one of the best places to go in Easter Island if you’re looking to escape the crowds and bask in some uninterrupted serenity. Situated between dramatic cliffs and the azure ocean, Ovahe is a secluded haven perfect for soul-searching or simply soaking up the sun.

The beach is accessible via a short hike. This makes it a rewarding destination for those willing to venture off the beaten path. The pinkish sands and turquoise waters create a surreal setting that seems almost too beautiful to be real. It’s an ideal spot for snorkeling, with an underwater world just as captivating as the landscape above.

Ovahe Beach offers you the chance to have a beach all to yourself making it among the unique things to do in Easter Island. It’s a rare luxury in today’s world. Pack a picnic, bring a book, and let the hours slip away as you become one with nature.

Ovahe Beach: Easter Island's serene, secluded paradise between dramatic cliffs and the azure ocean, perfect for relaxation.
Ovahe Beach: Easter Island’s serene, secluded paradise between dramatic cliffs and the azure ocean, perfect for relaxation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Easter Island

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Easter Island? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Easter Island:

What’s the best time to visit Easter Island?

The best time to visit Easter Island is during the shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) and fall (March to May). The weather is pleasant, with milder temperatures and fewer tourists. These periods offer an optimal balance between comfortable climate and a more tranquil experience of the island’s wonders.

What do people do on Easter Island?

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a remote volcanic island in Polynesia that’s part of Chile. It’s most famous for its nearly 900 monumental statues called moai, which were created by the Rapa Nui people. Here are some activities that people usually engage in when visiting Easter Island:

  • Visit the Moai Statues: The iconic moai statues are the main attraction, and visitors often tour various sites like Rano Raraku and Ahu Tongariki to see them.
  • Explore Rano Kau Volcano: This is a dormant volcano with a stunning crater lake. The views from the top are breathtaking.
  • Anakena Beach: Spend some time at this beautiful white sand beach, which also features some moai statues.
  • Hike to Terevaka: This is the highest point on the island and offers panoramic views of the entire island.
  • Visit Orongo Village: This ceremonial village is located at the edge of the Rano Kau volcano and is known for the Birdman competition.
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: The clear waters around the island offer excellent opportunities for underwater exploration.
  • Attend Local Festivals: If you’re lucky to be there during a local festival, it’s a great way to understand the Rapa Nui culture.
  • Visit the Anthropological Museum: Learn about the history and culture of the island at the Museo Antropológico P. Sebastián Englert.
  • Stargazing: Due to its remote location, Easter Island offers some of the clearest night skies for astronomical observation.
  • Horseback Riding: Explore the island’s landscapes on horseback for a unique experience.

How do I get to Easter Island?

Easter Island is accessible by air only. Regular flights depart from Santiago, Chile. The Mataveri International Airport is the island’s sole gateway. The flight takes around 5 to 6 hours, and booking in advance is recommended due to limited flights. Once on the island, you can explore its captivating treasures.

What is so mysterious about Easter Island?

The air of mystery surrounding Easter Island primarily stems from its iconic moai statues and the unanswered questions about their creation, transportation, and purpose. Here are some of the key elements that contribute to the island’s enigmatic allure:

  • Origin of the Moai: While it’s known that the Rapa Nui people created the moai, the exact reasons for their construction remain a subject of debate. Some theories suggest they were built to honor ancestors, chiefs, or other important figures, but there’s no definitive answer.
  • Transportation of the Moai: One of the most puzzling aspects is how these massive statues, some weighing up to 82 tons, were moved from the quarry at Rano Raraku to various locations across the island. Various theories, from rolling them on logs to “walking” them using ropes, have been proposed, but none have been universally accepted.
  • Toppling of the Moai: Almost all of the moai were found toppled over. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, though theories range from tribal wars to environmental degradation.
  • Rongorongo Script: Easter Island is home to its own set of glyphs known as Rongorongo. This is a script that has yet to be deciphered. The inability to understand this writing adds another layer of mystery to the island’s history.
  • Birdman Cult: The ceremonial village of Orongo serves as the center for the mysterious Birdman cult and their annual competition. The purpose and origins of this are not fully understood.
  • Isolation: The island’s remote location, far from any other landmass, has long puzzled anthropologists and geographers. How the original settlers reached this isolated island and how they survived is still a subject of research and debate.
Coastline of Easter Island with azure ocean waters
Coastline of Easter Island with azure ocean waters

Is Easter Island safe for travelers?

Absolutely! The island is generally safe, but like any travel destination, it’s always wise to take standard precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings and respect local customs and regulations.

Do I need a visa to visit Easter Island?

Traveling to Easter Island as a tourist falls under Chile’s regulations. If you don’t require a visa to enter Chile, the same applies to Easter Island. Citizens of many countries, including the US and EU member states, typically receive a tourist card upon arrival, granting a stay of up to 90 days.

What is the most famous thing on Easter Island?

The most famous attractions on Easter Island are the Moai statues. These massive stone figures, created by the Rapa Nui people, have intrigued visitors and researchers alike for centuries. They symbolize the rich history and enigmatic culture of this remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Is it worth going to Easter Island?

Absolutely, Easter Island is a bucket-list destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and ancient culture. The iconic Moai statues, mysterious archeological sites, and stunning landscapes make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a must-visit for those interested in history, anthropology, or simply looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Here are some more reasons why Easter Island is worth going to:

  • Moai Statues: The iconic stone figures are a marvel to see up close. Each has its own unique features and they are scattered in various locations around the island.
  • Rich History and Culture: Beyond the statues, the island offers a deep dive into Polynesian history and the mysterious Rapa Nui culture, including its undeciphered script, Rongorongo.
  • Stunning Scenery: The island isn’t just about the moai. It offers beautiful beaches, volcanic craters, and caves that are perfect for exploration.
  • Unique Experiences: From watching the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki to participating in traditional Rapa Nui festivals, the island offers experiences you can’t find anywhere else.
  • Stargazing: With little light pollution, Easter Island is a fantastic place for stargazing. The clear skies offer an incredible view of the stars, adding to the island’s mystical allure.
  • Limited Tourism: Due to its remote location, Easter Island doesn’t get overcrowded. As such, it offers a more intimate and peaceful experience compared to other tourist destinations.
  • Archaeological Sites: Apart from the moai, there are several other archaeological sites. This includes Orongo, a stone village and ceremonial center that provides insights into the island’s Birdman cult.
  • Adventure Activities: For the more adventurous, there are plenty of activities like scuba diving, horseback riding, and hiking, allowing you to experience the island’s natural beauty in an active way.

Concluding Thoughts on Exploring Easter Island

And there you have it, folks! A comprehensive guide to the coolest activities in Easter Island, a place that’s so much more than just its iconic Moai statues. From hidden beaches to cultural festivals, Easter Island offers a rich tapestry of experiences that go beyond the ordinary. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book that flight, and get ready to uncover the secrets of one of the world’s most enigmatic destinations. Trust me, it’s a journey you won’t forget.

The top things to do in Easter Island for all types of travelers
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