Easter Island enigma

Every ardent traveller has a bucket list of destinations. Recently, I helped some clients check Easter Island off their list.

For some, the unresolved mysteries of the large sculptures and their historic relevance are just too much to ignore. This speck of an island, 3,700 kilometres off the coast of Chile, is one of the most remote places on Earth. 

It is not an easy or inexpensive destination to explore.

Planning is truly necessary as there are few flights between Santiago and Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui). Minimum round trip airfares start at $950 Cdn. An interesting fact to remember is that the local population is allocated unlimited baggage allowances in contrast to the one piece maximum afforded tourists.

The check-in line in Santiago was an amazing assortment of everything from toaster ovens to toilets.

Upon arrival, you must pay a $60 US national park fee. Now that’s another point to remember. Cash is king on the Island and banks or cash machines are few. 

Be prepared.

Accommodations are limited due to the ever-increasing demand from international tourism therefore even the most basic hotels with limited amenities are expensive. If you’re looking for luxury, I would recommend the Explora Rapa Nui.

Rapa Nui is best explored with a local guide who can tell you the legends involving the mysterious moai.  There are over 900 of these sculptures scattered throughout the island. 

They range in height from four to 10 metres. Their significance is a hotly debated topic. Some believe them to be tribute to ancestors and others say they were created in the image of supernatural god.

How these huge, heavy images were transported from the Rano Raraku quarry to their various positions around the island is the true conundrum. 

There is, however, more to Easter Island than just the vacant stares of the monolithic stones. Fabulous white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and unpolluted reefs await the avid scuba diver, as well as wonderful cycling and trekking for the exercise enthusiast.

Sadly, Easter Island’s increasing popularity has its downside. The local population numbers 6,000 and welcomes over 80,000 visitors per year. Chileans immigrating from the mainland to open bars, restaurants and hotels now outnumber the original Polynesian Easter Islanders. 

Garbage collection and recycling is a major issue when you remember that the island is only 25 km from tip to tip. Worst of all is the continuing vandalism of moai.

Easter Island is a stunning place. The moai, standing on their stone plinths and gazing over the rolling, green landscape, are an unforgettable sight. 

If so called progress continues without addressing the need for major infrastructure improvements, the future of one of the most unique places on Earth may be severely threatened.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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