There are so many things to do on Easter Island I decided to make a helpful Easter Island travel guide after a recent visit to Easter Island (a.k.a Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua) — one of the most remote inhabited places on this planet.
One of the most common complaints from other travelers was that they were not sure what to do or were bored quickly and that 1-2 days is enough. I couldn’t believe this, how could this be with the famous Easter Island statues/heads officially know as Moai. In fact, after reading Jared Diamond’s book Collapse, which discussed what happened on Easter Island – overpopulation, no trees, highly modified landscape…
I was even more interested in coming and seeing for myself!
If you are going to go all that way, you should make the most of it, so here are the top 10 things I think you can enjoy on Easter Island — a sort of mini Easter Island Travel Guide. Feel free to comment with alternatives or suggestions, but please, if you are going, stay at least four days to really enjoy this unique place!
Oh, and to tempt you in your onwards travel – if you are wondering how far is Easter Island from Tahiti? It’s only a 5-hour flight away…
10 Things To Do In Easter Island: The Ultimate Guide To This Mysterious Island 🗿
- 1. Hire A Quad For The Day (Or More) And Explore Easter Island By Yourself
- 2. Check Out The Epic Rano Kau Crater
- 3. Spend The Day Relaxing At On The Divine Anakena Beach
- 4. Enjoy A Life-Changing Sunrise At Ahu Tongariki
- 5. Finish The Day With Sunset At Ahu Tahai
- 6. Explore The Twisting Caves And Lava Tunnels Of Easter Island
- 7. Scuba Dive Easter Island With The Moai
- 8. Visit Rano Raraku, The Quarry Of The Majestic Moais
- 9. Enjoy Some Of The Easter Island’s Amazing Cuisine
- 10. Take A Break Anywhere Along The Rugged Coastline
1. Hire A Quad For The Day (Or More) And Explore Easter Island By Yourself
If you want to check out the island under your own steam (or have already taken a day tour but want to see the sights with less crowd), hiring a quad is 100% the way to go.
You can get everywhere with these little bad boys and nothing like the freedom it entails and allows you to stop as you wish, and it is quite exhilarating. They are rented all over the island – I got mine for 30,000 CLP from my camping, but I think the price is similar to Insular Rental on the main street.
Best to ask some of the smaller places and negotiate if possible – 2 days would suffice.
2. Check Out The Epic Rano Kau Crater
The crater of Rano Kau volcano from the viewpoint is impressive, best seen in the early morning light. A huge caldera that is now inactive and where the lava has been replaced by a lagoon with reed plants. These reeds interestingly enough are also found at Lake Titicaca, giving credence to some interesting theories about contact with the Peruvian Inca’s and their ‘Kontiki’s’… Though, after visiting the Kontiki Museum of Oslo it still seems illogical.
Either way, the Rano Kau Crater perfect place to contemplate life, admire the scenery, and experience one of the few ecologically wonders on the island.
3. Spend The Day Relaxing At On The Divine Anakena Beach
Easter Island only has three beaches, but Anakena is “THE beach” on the island.
Surrounded by lush palm trees brought from Tahiti, fine white sand and crystal clear waters, is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy views of the ever-present Moai. Perfect place on the weekend to stop when restaurants are open (only ones on the circle island route) with excellent fit-out and reasonable prices on sandwiches and empanadas.
According to island oral traditions, Anakena was the landing place of Hotu Matu’a, a Polynesian chief who led a two-canoe settlement party here and founded the first settlement on Rapa Nui, so this is a special place not to be missed!
Oh, and if you are thinking of bringing a travel drone to make the most of this incredible scenery, you can forget it! Operating a drone on Easter Island requires permission from DGAC (National Service of Airspace Flight Control), which is basically impossible for amateur travelers to get…
4. Enjoy A Life-Changing Sunrise At Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki is the most spectacular platform of Easter Island and absolutely not to be missed. While you can view it at any point on a circle island tour in the morning for sunrise is when it shines as the sun rises behind the Moai.
For maximum effect visit between the 21st of December, the “Summer Solstice,” and the 21st of March, the “Autumn Equinox,” the sun rises behind the Ahu, between its giant stone sculptures, creating an unforgettable sight. Its isolated location, the nearby Poike volcano and the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing behind it, give an air of majesty and mystery unmatched.
Watching the sunrise behind its 15 Moais, oriented to Rano Raraku volcano, is unforgettable and almost a religious experience, making you genuinely consider your place in the world.
P.S. If you are going to Bolivia on the same trip check out my Bolivian Salt Flats Night Photography Guide
5. Finish The Day With Sunset At Ahu Tahai
Tahai, just along the coast from Hanga Roa, is possibly the best place to watch the sunset after a hectic day exploring the island.
The set of three ahus is located in a peaceful waterfront meadow where you can watch the sunset behind the statues. It is popular with locals and tourists alike and nice to see people having a picnic and just enjoying being together. Also, it is a great spot to people watch and only being 15 mins walk from town. Perfect for doing on the first day after a flight into the island if you are feeling exhausted but still want to get your first glimpse of the Moai.
Did you know the Moai and the Rapa Nui National Park are a UNESCO World Heritage Site? I’ve now been to over 250 – You can see the full list here! Or check out this article: Travel Blogger’s Favourite UNESCO Sites in South America.
6. Explore The Twisting Caves And Lava Tunnels Of Easter Island
Because of the volcanic nature of Easter Island, it is blessed with dozens of caves caused by lava tubes created by volcanic eruptions that shaped the island.
Ana Te Pahu or ‘Cave of the Bananas’ is one of its best caves and found on the muddy path marked on most maps going up from Ahu Tahai, one of the most secret or least explored parts of the island. Within it, the lava left several openings where sunlight is filtered, creating small nurseries for plants. It is something quite unique — just be sure to take a torch, unless you have been eating plenty of carrots and are capable of seeing in the dark.
On the same path is possibly one of the island’s best and most under-rated attractions: the cavern of the two windows (Ana Kio) in front of the Motu Tautara. If you are looking for it — there is a sign, but nothing is written on it. Helpful, I know, but try searching for the lava tube that emerges from the land near the cliff.
Sliding through a narrow entrance, you enter a large cavern that offers two exits in the middle of the cliff, one towards the sea, and the other towards the Motu Tautara. Words cannot describe its beauty, but you must check it out. If in doubt, ask your hotel for help and then people again on the trail as is easy to miss!
Be sure to bring a torch – an essential item on any long-term backpackers list – since, well, this is the middle of nowhere, and your chancing of being able to garner any forgotten bits locally is slim-to-none!
7. Scuba Dive Easter Island With The Moai
Literally walked straight off the plane to the Easter Island dive centers (Orca Diving Center to be exact) and said, “Take me scuba diving with the underwater moai“… it was a must-have a photo for me!
Because Easter Island has no major rivers, very little development, and a small human population, there is impressive visibility here, some of the best in the world. This Moai is new, but as my dive guide told me, it’s still authentic as made by the Rapa Nui (just in modern times!)…
The dives had some great morays and fish but nothing much else in terms of wildlife as the instructor explained the visibility is down to a lack of smaller phytoplankton that is required for teeming fish life (though I think fishing by islanders might also play a role)
For more fantastic diving, check out my guide to the best dive sites in the world that I’ve been to!
8. Visit Rano Raraku, The Quarry Of The Majestic Moais
An absolute must down, and not circle island tour would be complete without it (I went with a guided tour company which I would avoid like the plague, Aku Aku Travel, and then again on my own) …
You will find the postcard images of Easter Island here; the half-buried Moai in the slope of Rano Raraku volcano buried by sediments over time. Most of the Moai left here were too damaged, imperfect or big to be transported elsewhere, so their creators just abandoned them in situ. Here you can see the largest Moai ever and variations of earlier Moai unearthed during digs.
This quarry was used by Rapa Nui for carving and extracting these colossal statues, and a whopping 96% of them came from this location!
If you make it to Colombia while your here, don’t miss the other most famous stone statues in South America at San Agustin!
9. Enjoy Some Of The Easter Island’s Amazing Cuisine
While Easter Island is indeed expensive compared to mainland Chile and South America, in general, it should be considered how raw, rugged, and isolated this rock is. Expect to pay more for big western brands here. That being said, there are some excellent bargains to be had, and for me, the three food highlights of this island were Kotaro, Te Moana, and Empanadas Tia Berta.
Kotaro is a fantastic Japanese restaurant (#1 on Trip Advisor) run my a one-man band with some of the best food I have had anywhere in the world. Seriously, Kotaro eas better than half the meals I had in Tokyo or Osaka. Expect a unique experience the will have you going back for more (and it near the airport so can go for dinner after check-in if flying on to Tahiti). Te Moana (pictured) is a more local style place – upscale but only a tad more than other sites on the island – The sunset here is incredible, and so are the cocktails so would do will to join together.
Finally, when costs are mounting, Empanadas Tia Berta on the main street is the best place to go for a delicious and cheap lunch. They are only 3000 CLP for a massive empanada with tuna and cheese.
As you might imagine – I went back every day.
10. Take A Break Anywhere Along The Rugged Coastline
This kind of matches up with number one (Quad), but with Easter Island, half the fun is enjoying and appreciating the wild and diverse coastline in this little rock and appreciating how isolated it is.
I stopped for lunch in a random site with a view and had it all to myself, but even just enjoying an ice cream walking along the coastline in Hanga Roa would suffice. Just don’t take the coast for granted here as it really is a highlight. Windswept shorelines with jagged volcanic rocks being battered against the relentless waves 24/7. It still gives me the chills a little to even think about! For those who have been to Iceland, New Zealand, or the Isle of Skye — you will know what to expect.
Where Is Easter Island Located?
Easter Island, as you have probably figured out by now – is one of the most isolated islands on Earth. So the simple answer to where is Easter Island located? In the middle of the Pacific, far, far away from everything else.
If you want to get technical, it is roughly halfway between Santiago de Chile and Tahiti, just plugin 27.1127° S, 109.3497° W to your GPS, and start swimming.
It is going to take a long time! How those first Polynesians found it is beyond me…
How To Get To Easter Island…
Even given Easter Island’s extreme geographic isolation, it’s not as hard to get here as you would imagine.
Everyone I have spoken to about things to do in Easter Island has said “Wow, it must be so difficult to get to Easter Island,” but really, it isn’t. It is just that options are limited and might not be very cheap.
There are regular flights thanks to LAN Chile from Santiago de Chile and one per week to Tahiti. A few boats stop by during the year on commercial ship routes, but even the most intrepid travelers are going to struggle to get on these.
Our recommendation for getting to Easter Island? Do it on an RTW trip when it becomes more affordable, or use Skyscanner to look for cheap return flights from Santiago de Chile. Flight time is around 5 hours, so you will want to stay a few nights minimum.
As I said, prices are high, but you never know what specials you might find…
Where To Stay On Easter Island!
The Best Luxury Hotel On Easter Island
Discover all there is to experience at Hangaroa. From spacious rooms to a relaxing spa and gourmet cuisine, the choices are yours!
The Best Mid-Range Hotel On Easter Island
Set on a property of 1.5 hectares, the hotel has a panoramic view of the shoreline, luxurious gardens, a beautiful swimming pool viewing the sea, and large open spaces to relax.
The Best Budget Hotel On Easter Island
An outdoor swimming pool and bungalows surrounded by gardens only a 5-minute drive from Mataveri International Airport. Wi-Fi is free in public areas and breakfast is included.
Further Things To Consider Before Any Adventure
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!