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Exploring Easter Island Heads: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Easter Island and its mysterious stone heads have beguiled travelers, historians, anthropologists, and even conspiracy theorists since generations.

The remote volcanic island, bare of trees and vegetation but full of giant stone statues and a handful of inhabitants, has spawned many mysteries – the chief among them being ‘Who built the Easter Island heads and what was their purpose?’ The best way to discover the answers and understand what happened on Easter Island years ago is to visit Easter Island for yourself.

It will be, without doubt, the trip of a lifetime – just as it was for me! I loved every minute I spent on Easter Island and wish to go back again in a few years.

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Very few Easter Island travel and guidebooks have detailed, all-encompassing information about the island and so I have compiled this list of important things to know before you visit Easter Island.

Some of the information is practical and useful in planning your trip to Easter Island while some of it answers questions about the isolated civilization that flourished on the island and the magnificent statues they built.

(Spoiler Alert: There were no aliens involved!)

CONTENTS

EASTER ISLAND TRAVEL FAQS

Where Are The Easter Island Heads Located?

The famous Easter Island heads are located on a remote island in the South Pacific Ocean, about 2000 miles from the western coast of Chile. Easter Island is formed from the Nazca Plate, an oceanic tectonic plate, and is a volcanic island formed by the eruption of 3 volcanoes many years ago. Easter Island is a territory of Chile. Easter Island is famous for its 887 stone statues called the Moai built by the ancient Rapa Nui people that first inhabited the island. Easter Island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visited by thousands of people every year.

When Was Easter Island Discovered And By Whom?

Easter Island first recorded European visitor was the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen. He came across the island on Easter Sunday (April 5th) in 1722 while exploring new land in the Pacific Ocean to open a trade route with south-east Asia. At the time of contact, he reported seeing 2000 – 3000 inhabitants on the island.

What Are The Other Names For Easter Island?

Easter Island is so named because it was discovered on Easter Sunday years ago. The island is also known by many other names. Its official Spanish name is Isla de Pascua – your plane to Easter Island will have Isla de Pascua printed on the ticket and on airport screens. The local Rapa Nui people also have various names for the island – it is popularly called Rapa Nui in Polynesian and the archeological park is called Rapa Nui National Park. Even today locals prefer to call it by the native name Rapa Nui than Easter Island or Isla de Pascua. The island has also been called ‘Te pito o te henua’ or the Navel of the world.

How To Visit Easter Island? Is It Safe?

Many people assume Easter Island travel is only for the most adventurous traveler. However, the island is served daily by commercial flights. LATAM Airlines (LAN Chile) operates one flight daily from Santiago to Hanga Roa (IPC) airport. The approximately 6 hrs flight across the Pacific Ocean is the quickest and only way to reach the world’s most remote inhabited island. Since Easter Island is a Chilean territory, the flight is considered a domestic one. Flights also arrive from Tahiti but are less frequent at one flight per week. Easter Island is extremely safe to visit. Hanga Roa is a very tranquil place and the natives are friendly people. There are virtually no typical tourist scams on Easter Island.

Is Easter Island A Typical Polynesian Island With Lush Vegetation, Swaying Palm Trees And Sandy Beaches?

Contrary to what you would expect, Easter Island is mostly devoid of large trees. Its coastline is volcanic and rocky and there is only one ideal beach at Easter Island. Anakena Beach is the only beach on Easter Island. It has powdery white sand and swaying palm trees. The trees are not native to Easter Island – they were imported from Tahiti many years ago. Anakena Beach is unlike most beaches in the world – it is beautifully rugged, picturesque, and remote and is set behind a majestic Ahu of 7 elaborately carved Moai. However, Easter Island of today is vastly different from the island of thousands of years ago. Before the advent of the Polynesians and their Moai, Easter Island was a tropical paradise – with large trees, plenty of birds, waters rich in marine life and a mild climate. To fully understand what happened on Easter Island, we must revisit the island’s ancient history. (read below)

When Is The Best Time To Visit Easter Island?

Easter Island is in the Southern Hemisphere. Summer begins in December and ends in March. This is the peak tourist season on the island. The Tapati festival is held in first two weeks of February and is one of the most expensive times to visit Easter Island. Summer days on the island are hot and humid and traveling via foot or bicycling is tiring. The water at Anakena Beach is perfect for swimming during summer. Fall which is from October to December is the other high season on Easter Island.

Spring on Easter Island is from April to June. It rains in April and May and visitors may get wet as they travel to different archeological sites. Winter which is from June to September is accompanied by wet and windy days and high points on the island like Rano Kau crater or Terevaka get quite cold. For this reason, spring and summer form the low season on Easter Island. We visited Easter Island the first week of September and found the weather to be quite mild and prices on the island were a lot more affordable.

How Much Does Visiting Easter Island Heads Cost? What Is The Budget For Easter Island Travel?

The main cost of visiting Easter Island is the cost of flights from Santiago to Hanga Roa. Since the route is monopolized by LAN airlines there is no competition and fares are usually high. They are in the range from USD 400-1200. We recommend traveling off season and booking on LAN’s Chilean website to get the best deals. We visited Easter Island in the first week of September for Labor Day weekend and found tickets at $525 roundtrip per person.

Entrance to Rapa Nui National Park costs USD 80 per person for adults and USD 40 for children. Tickets can be purchased at the Mataveri Airport upon arrival and we highly recommend purchasing tickets as soon as you land as opposed to searching for a ranger station afterward. Tickets include detailed maps of Rapa Nui National Park with clearly marked archeological sites, trails, and facilities. The ticket is valid for 10 days and tickets are strictly checked for Orongo and Rano Raraku. We also rented a car on Easter Island and the rental rate was USD 55 per day for 5 days totaling to USD 275. Goods are expensive on Easter Island since everything has to be flown in from Chile. Both the Chilean pesos and USD are accepted on the island. Prices were often quoted to us in USD. Credit cards were not widely accepted, and we had to rely on cash for the most part.

How Much Time Is Required To Explore Easter Island? How Much Time Should I Spend On Easter Island?

We have seen many tourist guides and travel agents recommending 2-3 days stay on Easter Island since it has a small area. However the archeological sites on Easter Island are innumerable, all are distinct from each other and have some historical significance. There are also many things to do on Easter Island for every type of traveler. We stayed on Easter Island for 5 full days and recommend everyone to consider a similar time frame to explore the island in its entirety. The day you arrive and depart have only limited number of hours for sightseeing and should not be considered while planning your itinerary.

Where To Stay In Easter Island?

Easter Island is mostly divided into two parts: a small, bustling, touristy town of Hanga Roa and the Rapa Nui National Park where most important archeological sites are located. Majority of the places to stay on Easter Island are in the town of Hanga Roa. Here you will find accommodations to fit all budgets from luxurious all-inclusive hotels to basic camping tents targeted towards backpackers. Midrange and budget hotels and hostels with rooms and beds are also abundant on the island. Also common is the proliferation of cabins, Airbnb and glamping style accommodations.

What To Eat On Easter Island?

A distinct local cuisine developed on Easter Island due to its isolation. Items based easily available seafood like shrimp, tuna, mahi-mahi and locally grown products like sweet potatoes, plantains, etc were consumed to a larger extent. Here are some dishes to try while on Easter Island:

Umu Tao / Curanto: It is Easter Island’s traditional dish which is cooked in a hole in the ground with meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables. This dish can be eaten either at a local’s home or during the festival of Tapati where it is cooked in large quantities.

Tunu Ahi: It is another local dish made with fresh fish and cooked outside on hot stones.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Sweet potato is locally grown on Easter Island since ancient times and the gnocchi became popular on the island due to colonization. The result is sweet potato gnocchi – a delicious dish that blends the local flavors on the island.

Ceviche: Though Ceviche is said to have originated in South America, it has slowly become an Easter Island special. The tuna ceviche is most popular. We also tasted the Chilean seaweed Ceviche on Easter Island and it was delicious.

Empanadas: The island’s Spanish influences have given rise to many outlets selling empanadas. They come in many varieties and are large and tasty. Empanadas are budget meals for most travelers. The empanada stands at Anakena Beach serve delicious empanadas.

Rape Rape lobster: Rape rape is a small local lobster found in the waters surrounding Easter Island. The lobster is served as a large spectacular dish and is very tender and flavorful to taste.

Po’e: Po’e is a sweet cake type dessert made from plantain, pumpkin, and flour. We bought some Po’e at the eatery outside Rano Raraku and it was delicious.

Typical drinks on Easter island include pisco sours, Mahina beer which is locally brewed on the island and fresh fruit juices which can be found in abundance.

How To Get Around Easter Island?

Public transport on Easter Island is nonexistent. There is a Hop-on Hop-off bus called ‘Ara Moai’ but we saw hardly anyone using it and do not recommend it to anyone. There are many other ways to get around on Easter Island as detailed below:

Walking: Technically it is possible to see all of Easter Island while walking. The village of Hanga Roa is a short walk from the airport. If you have accommodations booked in advance, most hotels offer free airport pick up. Walking to major tourist sites gives a great idea about the remoteness of the island.

Bicycles: Bicycles are a cheap option for walking. Many shops rent bikes on the main road in Hanga Roa. Rental rates are around USD 15 to USD 25 for 4-8 hrs. However many roads are unpaved and cycling in the heat is exhausting.

Mopeds / Scooters / Motorbikes: We found scooters or mopeds to be a popular option for backpackers. Renting one requires a valid driver’s license from your home country. They are cheaper than cars, budget-friendly when shared between two people and a good way to get around the island.

Taxis: Taxis are easily available on the island. They are also cheap and a standard rate of CLP2000 applies for most places within Hanga Roa. Taxis to Anakena Beach and other further sites can cost up to CLP 30,000. We recommend taxis only for travel within Hanga Roa.

Rental Cars: Cars are the most efficient but a definitely non-budget option of getting around on Easter Island. None of the major car rental companies like Hertz, Enterprise, and Budget have branches on the island. Car rental facilities on Easter Island are limited to a few local companies – Insular and Oceanic are most popular. Most cars are manual transmission and 4WD vehicles suited for rough roads on the island. Visitors can also rent cars privately from their hotels or hosts. Driving on Easter Island is very easy. One road circumnavigates the entire island and can be covered in a couple of hours without stopping at any sites. We rented a car from Mahinatur and enjoyed traveling around the island in our car. There is no rental insurance on Easter Island.

Quad Bikes: One of the interesting options for traveling across Easter Island is a quad bike. We found many people using the quad bike on the bumpier, longer hikes like the North Coast hike to Anakena beach.

Is A Guided Tour Necessary To See Easter Island?

Guided group tours are a popular option to explore Easter Island since there is lack of reliable public transportation and renting a car is expensive. Sharing a tour with a group of travelers can be a budget-friendly and efficient way of seeing the island and its many archeological sites. However, we do not recommend this option as the key to understanding the island’s culture is its remoteness. This feeling of remoteness is lost when going from place to place with a guided tour group. If you prefer a guide, we recommend a private tour over a group one which can be altered as per your needs and can offer the isolated feeling. However, the best option to explore Easter Island is renting your own car, purchasing a reliable guidebook and exploring on your own.

EASTER ISLAND HEADS: UNDERSTANDING THE MYSTERIES AND DISPELLING MYTHS

What Is The History Of Easter Island? Who Built The Heads On Easter Island And When?

Easter Island’s famous monolithic human figures are called the Moai. The Rapa Nui people or the native people of the remote Pacific Easter Island carved the Moai statues from volcanic tuff stone found inside the island’s volcanic craters. Majority of Easter Island statues were carved between the years 1,250 and 1,500 AD. Over that time period, they built over 887 statues of increasing heights and width. Most of the statues were carved from volcanic tuff found inside Rano Raraku, which is called the quarry of the Easter Island heads. The largest Moai called Paro is 33 feet (10 meters) high, weighs 82 tonnes and it still remains carved in the rock face of the crater. More than half of the statues remain where they are carved on the inner and outer slopes of Rano Raruku while remaining have been transported to various ceremonial platforms or Ahus on Easter Island. The earliest Moai were minimalist figures similar to other stone sculptures found throughout Polynesia. As the Rapa Nui Civilization evolved the art of carving statues also evolved. The later statues were either larger in height and in weight or had more refined sculpting with elaborate features such as lips, earlobes, eyes, and headgears.

Why Are The Statues Popularly Known As Easter Island Heads?

The Moai statues have disproportionately large heads compared to their bodies. The heads dominate the bodies and are roughly one-third of the total size. Visitor’s attention is automatically drawn towards the heads with their minimalistic features and enigmatic expressions and hence the name. Also, the statues are Rano Raraku are buried neck deep in the earth and only the heads are visible ensuring continued use of the name ‘Easter Island heads’.

Why Were The Moai Or Easter Island Statues Built? What Was Their Purpose?

Archeologists and historians believe that the statues were built to honor the Rapa Nui people’s Polynesian ancestors. The Moai are primarily sculpted faces of revered Rapa Nui ancestors. All of the statues when erected on platforms faced away from the sea and towards village settlements and were thought to be watching over the people. The statues are thought to be symbols of religious and political authority and hence they were subsequently toppled to denounce the power of a clan.

Petroglyphs

Who Were The Rapa Nui People? Where Did They Come From? Are They Extinct?

The Rapa Nui people are the original inhabitants of Easter Island. They were Polynesians and excellent seafarers and chose to colonize and populate Easter Island more than a thousand years ago. The Rapa Nui people sailed to Easter Island from other islands in the Polynesian Triangle. (Polynesian Triangle is an area in the Pacific Ocean consisting of a scattered group of islands and formed by Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island as its apex.) Other theories suggesting that Rapa Nui could have come from South America have been largely disregarded. At one time, Easter Island was home to over 10,000 Rapa Nui people. They developed the statue worshiping religion and built large statues or the Moai. Gradually their population dwindled to less than 100 due to many reasons (read below). However, the Rapa Nui did not become extinct. Their population gradually grew again and the Rapa Nui people live on Easter Island even today. They have kept some of their art forms alive in the form of Rapa Nui dance shows, tattoos, and wood carvings.

Do The Easter Island Heads Have Bodies Too?

Recently a news piece that claimed ‘Easter Island heads have bodies too!’ was doing the rounds. This article once again drew a lot of attention to Easter Island and the debate about the Easter Island heads raged on once more. The truth is, the Easter Island heads have always had bodies. Anyone who has visited Easter Island knows this – they have seen the Moai with their torsos at Ahu Tongariki, Ahu Anakena, and other platforms on the island. However, those who have seen only Rano Raraku, the Moai statue quarry, have seen pictures only of the heads of Easter Island. The reason behind this is that the statues at the quarry are buried neck deep in sediments and rocks with the passage of time. Their torsos are preserved under the earth and when excavated reveal fascinating photos of the ‘bodies of Easter Island heads’.

Do The Easter Island Heads Have Eyes?

Initially, it was believed that the Moai do not have eyes. Some of the Moai seemed to have deep oval eye sockets. However, a discovery at Ahu Nau Nau made historians realize that some of the later Moai have eyes. Sergio Rapu, a native Easter Island archeologist and his team found broken fragments of white coral stones at many sites. They reassembled the pieces to form white coral eyes with red or black stone pupils. The Moai statues were first erected on their platforms and then the eyes were fit into the eye sockets specially carved for this purpose.

How Did The Statues Get There?

The most baffling mystery about Easter Island is ‘how did the statutes get there?’ That a Stone Age civilization isolated from rest of the world could carve and transport such massive statues has boggled human mind for generations. Also when the first European visitors arrived on Easter Island it was a bare, treeless environment which further increased the mystery. Since then, there have been many scientific experiments and hypothesis regarding methods of moving Easter Island statues. The sheer size of the Moai makes people wonder about the means moved to move them and erect them upright on platforms miles away from the quarry where the statues were carved. The most commonly accepted explanation is as below.

The ancient Rapa Nui people carved the heads and the front of the Moai directly on the rock face of the crater. After carving, the statues were made to stand upright with the help of large tree trunks that were firmly placed into deep holes in the walls of the crater. The Rapa Nui then used rope made from the island’s trees to lift the statues and their backs were carved into place. The statues were then placed on wooden rollers formed from tree trunks and rolled into place and erected on Ahus. Alternative explanations state that the statues were gently rocked into place, some others say they were dragged by ropes to their Ahus. A recent explanation that the statues were transported upright, is slowly gaining more acceptance. However, the debate still continues and Easter Island’s most elusive mystery continues to attract archeologists.

Did Aliens Have Anything To Do With Easter Island?

Similar to myths surrounding the Pyramids of Egypt and Nazca Lines, many people think that the Moai of Easter Island were created and moved by aliens or extraterrestrial beings. The primary reason for this myth is the utter isolation of Easter Island, the majestic size of the Moais and the decline of the ancient civilization. However, all of these are myths and the Moai were very much carved by a talented race of Polynesians called the Rapa Nui.

Other similar conspiracy theories state that work on Easter Island stopped abruptly and the population disappeared due to some sudden catastrophic event. Others assume Easter Island to be the above water part of an entire sunken continent of people with extraordinary skills. However, all of these theories have no basis and have been debunked.

Are Any Of The Original Easter Island Heads And Statues Still Standing?

All of the statutes seen today on Ahus on Easter Island have been scientifically and accurately re-erected by Western archeologists and historians. None of the Moai erected by the ancient Rapa Nui people remain standing today. When first European visitors to Easter Island arrived in early 1700 they saw most of the Easter Island heads still standing but when Captain James Cook visited in 1774 many statues were toppled. Most of the Moai were toppled during the Civil war that broke out on Easter Island in the 1750s and led to the decline of the Rapa Nui civilization. Some others were toppled when a Chilean earthquake generated a tsunami that hit Easter Island’s coastline and swept the statues.

How Did The Easter Island Statues Fall To The Bottom Of The Ocean?

Many popular photos of Easter Island show tourists diving over an underwater Moai. Most people think that the tsunami which hit Easter Island’s coastline and toppled the Moai at Ahu Tongariki was responsible for the Moai at the bottom of the ocean. However the Moai you see while scuba diving is a fake – it was created as a prop for the movie Rapa Nui and left at the bottom of the ocean as an attraction.

What Happened On The Island? Exactly What Killed The Easter Island Inhabitants, Destroyed The Trees, And Toppled The Famous Statues?

The original Easter Island was a lush paradise with large palms and other trees, a variety of birds, and marine life. The native Rapa Nui people prospered on the island and developed one of the most intriguing cultures in the world. They carved giant statues called the Moai and worshipped them. However as the population grew, the island’s limited resources were stressed. Deforestation increased and the raw material for canoes, tools, ropes decreased – giving rise to an atmosphere of discontent and infighting. The deified Moai were toppled and the civilization began to collapse. The ritual of Birdman tried to balance the disagreements but the population eventually dwindled and the unique culture was lost. Colonization played its part in decreasing the dwindling population further. The island was colonized around 1000 AD. Many Easter Islanders were sold as slaves to Peru and Bolivia. Contact with the advanced civilizations led to spread of diseases until at last just a few hundred islanders were left.

What Else Is There To See On Easter Island Besides The Famous Heads And Statues?

Besides the famous Easter Island heads, many other artifacts produced by the Rapa Nui people still exist. Some of the Moai also had Pukao or topknots over their head. Ahus or the platforms over which the Moai are erected are themselves important archeological sites and excellent specimens of Rapa Nui stonework. Wood carvings and tools used to carve the Moai can be seen at the museum in Hanga Roa village. The stone houses at Orongo, chicken coops and boathouses spread all over the island, cave drawings at Ana TePahu, and the many petroglyphs at are excellent examples of the spread and decline of an isolated civilization.

What Are The Important Archeological Sites On Easter Island?

There are many archeological sites on Easter Island besides the Moai platforms and Rano Raraku quarry. Here are some of the important sites on Easter Island and the artifacts found at each site:

Moai quarry at Rano Raraku: Popularly known as the quarry or the Moai nursery, Rano Raraku is the most important archeological site on Easter Island. The volcanic crater is where the Moai were carved, separated from the stone, erected upright and transported to their final destinations. The quarry is like an unfinished Moai factory – Moai in various stages of carving can be found here. This is undoubtedly the most fascinating and mysterious sight on the island and one of the most important to visit. The entire hillside is dotted with Moai buried neck deep into the earth and can be seen even from miles away. All except 53 of 887 Moai found on Easter Island were carved on the crater slopes of Rano Raraku.

Ahu Tongariki: The most majestic and most impressive Moai platform on Easter Island is Ahu Tongariki. Located a short drive away from Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki has 15 large Moai standing erect on a giant platform with the backdrop of the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Pukao Quarry at Puna Pau: The statues or the Moai evolved with time. Some of the later Moai are more elaborately carved, have more refined features and have extra additions like eyes or topknots called ‘Pukao’. The quarry of carved Pukao is an interesting place to visit. Many Pukao carved from a red volcanic stone called scoria lie in the quarry. They are elaborately carved with petroglyphs. The Pukao are thought to be expressions of the power of the ancestor for which the Moai was built. The more powerful the Moai, the bigger and more elaborate is its topknots. The Pukao is said to represent a male hairstyle or headgear.

Ahu Nau Nau at Anakena Beach: Ahu Nau Nau is a ceremonial platform with 7 Moai. This Ahu is very picturesque surrounded by swaying palm trees and the white sand beach of Anakena. The blue waters of the Pacific provide a stunning backdrop to the Ahu. This Ahu is archeologically important for several reasons. To the right of this Ahu stands a single Moai on an ahu – this Moai was first erected by Thor Heyderhald’ expedition in recent history. Ahu Nua Nua is also the site where the coral eyes of the Moai were first found. Also, the Moai at this Ahu are carved at a later period, are more refined and have distinct features such as thin lips, nostrils, and earrings carved into their earlobes.

Ahu Akivi: The Moai at Ahu Akivi are famously called the 7 explorers. This Ahu with 7 Moai is the only one with its Moai facing towards the sea – the reason for this being that village settlement was adjacent to the sea and the Moai were erected accordingly. One theory goes that the Moai are the original 7 Rapa Nui sent to explore the island and hence they look out to the sea.

Rano Kau Crater: The volcanic crater of Rano Kau is filled with a lush crater lake on which reeds, grasses, and shrubs grow in large numbers. Rano Kau is one of the original volcanoes that led to the formation of Easter Island and for a long time, the crater lake of Rano Kau was the only source of fresh water for the Rapa Nui people.

Orongo Village: The Orongo Ceremonial Village is picturesquely located on the edge of the Rano Kau Crater, beautifully balanced between the vast Crater Lake and the blue water of the Pacific ocean. A sheer drop separates the last house in Orongo from the waves crashing on the rocky coast below. The village of Orongo was built and came into prominence after the cult of ‘Birdman’ replaced the statue building era. The annual Birdman competition was held at Orongo. Hundreds of carved petroglyphs from Birdman, Make Make (a Rapa Nui God), and other symbols can be found at Orongo.

Papa Vaka: The archeological site of Papa Vaka has a large number of petroglyphs depicting marine life and Rapa Nui relation with the sea. The Rapa Nui people also carved petroglyphs on the backs of the Moai. Some of the topknots or Pukao also have petroglyphs carved on them. Common petroglyphs include the crescent-shaped canoe, fish hooks, fishes, bird-men motifs among others.

What Was The Birdman Competition That Existed On Easter Island?

Originally Easter Island’s chief or leader was selected by hereditary. As the statue building diminished in importance and inter-clan wars took place, the fascinating annual competition of Birdman evolved to select the island’s next leader. The symbol of Birdman – a half bird, half man symbol – is closely connected to the competition and its sacred site of Orongo. The goal of the Birdman competition was to get the first egg from the islet of Motu Nui. Contestants descended the slippery slope of Rano Kau crater cliff from Orongo, swam across the water to Motu Nui, waited for the arrival of the birds and on having procured the first egg sought to bring it intact back to Orongo. The first successful contestant was crowned Birdman and chief of the island for a year.

What Is The Tapati Rapa Nui Festival?

Tapati Rapa Nui Festival is an annual cultural festival held on Easter Island for the first two weeks of February. The festival name literally stands for “the Rapa Nui week” and is held to celebrate the Rapa Nui culture and traditions. Throughout the festival, competitions are held that uphold ancient Rapa Nui skills of swimming, canoeing, body painting, and tattoos. The atmosphere on the island is exuberant and Tapati is one of the most popular times to visit Easter Island.

How To Avoid The Crowds At Easter Island?

Like most other popular tourist destinations, we avoided crowds at Easter Island by simply visiting offseason and arriving early in the morning at popular tourist sites.

How To Be A Responsible Traveler At Easter Island?

Easter Island is a fascinating destination. Much of the island is protected by the Rapa Nui National park however many important archeological sites lie outside the protected area. Easter Island has once suffered due to overpopulation and stress on its natural resources. The island is again shouldering a load of thousands of tourists every year. Here are a few ways in which you can be a responsible tourist and play your part in conserving Easter Island:

1. The Moai and their platforms are protected by law and touching them is strictly forbidden. Hefty fines are issued to anyone who causes any damage to them. A German tourist who broke the ear of a Moai was fined USD 100,000.

2. Do not walk on the Ahu. The most important Ahus are roped off but even then tourists inadvertently step on them. Rapa Nui people worship the Ahu and by walking on them you will not only break the law but disrespect local culture and sentiments.

3. Rano Raraku and Orongo are the two most majestic archeological sites and can be visited only once during your trip. You will need to show your ticket for these sites. Keep your tickets safe between the two visits. Rest of the island does not require an entry ticket.

4. While snorkeling and scuba diving, be careful to not go near restricted sites near the islets of Motu Nui and Motu Iti.

5. Off-roading anywhere on Easter Island is illegal. The entire island is like an open-air museum and archeological remains are scattered everywhere.

6. When dining, chose to eat locally grown food and local cuisine rather than exotic dishes the ingredients of which are likely to have been flown to the island adding to the carbon footprint.

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