Easter Island is an enigmatic place. The mysterious stone statues carved and erected by the Rapa Nui people have enthralled mankind since their discovery. The key to understanding Easter Island and making most of your time there is in gaining an insight into the island even before you go. Here is some recommended background reading before your first visit to Easter Island:
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After C & I booked our tickets to Easter Island, I searched Tripadvisor for the best guide books for Easter Island. The Complete Guide by Shawn McLaughlin was highly recommended by everyone. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find this book at a budget price. I bought a used copy of the first edition and can’t recommend it enough. While the older version is not up-to-date on information about businesses in Hanga Roa; the historical and archeological information about Easter Island is mostly the same. It has wonderful drawings and charts while the big foldable map at the end was priceless in navigating around the island. It also has an English – Rapa Nui dictionary which helped us in communicating with the locals and understanding some of the names on the island.
This guidebook written by James Grant-Peterkin is my choice for a secondary guide book. The author is a native Easter Islander and shares local tips to seeing Easter Island. The practical information about hotels, restaurants, shopping and other tourist activities is really useful. The thing I liked most about this guide book is that it shares optimal times to visit archaeological sites to avoid crowds and reveals photography tips for capturing the best shots. Planning self-guided tour is quite easy with this book.
Click on the image to check out in-depth reviews by travelers who used this guide book to plan their Easter Island trip.
No mention or history of Easter Island can be complete without a reference to Katherine Routledge, the first woman archaeologist to work in Polynesia. Katherine, along with her husband, conducted the first excavations on Easter Island. This biography is a compelling read of Katherine Routledge’s life and her path breaking explorations on Easter Island. This book provides excellent background reading for your first trip to Easter Island.
Pulitzer-prize winning author Jared Diamond explores how environmental changes, unsustainable population explosion and civil unrest have resulted in the collapse of civilizations. He discusses the vividly striking case of Easter Island as one of the failed societies in the book. The book inevitably links the lessons from the past to today’s world and what can be done to avoid a collapse of modern societies.
The gigantic Moai or the stone statues at Easter Island have fascinated everyone since they were discovered. Every year thousands of tourists travel to the most remote inhabited place on earth to marvel at the Moai. This book by archeologists Hunt & Lipo seeks to answer some of the questions and mysteries that abound the Moai. It offers an interesting alternative to the prevalent theory of eco-suicide and self-destruction by the Rapa Nui civilization.
Enigmas of Easter Island seeks to answer the most baffling questions surrounding the Moai, Rapa Nui and Easter Island by combining a wealth of archeological detail, island lore and accounts of European explorers. The book references and analyzes most scientific theories around Easter Island and is a comprehensive background reading for anyone interested in Easter Island.
Author Steven Fischer examines and pens down the essential history of Easter Island. The book starts with ancient history of the island including population by Polynesians to the civil unrest and eventual decline of the Rapa Nui society and subsequent contact with the Europeans before moving to modern eras covering annexation and colonization by Chile and the Rapa Nui fight for civil rights in recent history.
Some parts of Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island are available to read for free on Google books.
The original account written by Katherine Routledge herself makes a good light reading on Easter Island. Written in 1919, the book lacks strong discussion and inferences present in other books but the first person account from building the yatch ‘Mana’ to living on the island, understanding the customs of tattooing, documenting the Moai and interviewing the Rapa Nui makes for a very enthralling read.
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Dotted Globe has tons of resources on Easter Island and Chile, check them out below!