places to visit in rapa nui

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Welcome to our section dedicated to one of the most enigmatic and fascinating destinations in the world: Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. This remote island, located in the Pacific Ocean, is a place of unmatched beauty and mystery , where history and legend intertwine among its volcanic landscapes and windswept coasts.

Hanga Roa

The two thousand inhabitants live in the town of Hanga Roa, the majority of Polynesian origin. International telephone, airport for large planes, post office, a modern hospital, church and various services meet the needs of visitors, who can stay in hotels, residences or in the islanders’ homes. Lobster, tuna, pineapple, bananas and melons are some of the delicacies that nature offers.

Archaeological Sites

In addition to the moai (giant stone heads), there are other stone works on Easter Island. Other artifacts include the large «ahu» (platforms on which the moai rested), rock mounds where the bodies were buried, and the stone foundations of boat-shaped huts.

Although many of the structures were damaged by the original inhabitants and the moai were probably collapsed during tribal wars, several sites have been restored in the last three decades, including Ahu Tahai, Ahu Akibi, the ceremonial village of Orongo and Ahu Nau Nau. Others, like Ahu Vinapu and Ahu Vaihu, are in ruins but are nonetheless imposing.

La Costa Oeste

On the west coast there are four ahu complexes. Ahu Tautira, near the small Hanga Roa pier, stands next to the small Hanga Roa bridge, which is only used by fishing boats. They have re-erected the torso of two broken moai over the ahu.

Ahu Tahai

Although it seems like the name of the entire site, there are three restored ahu here: Ahu Tahai, the ahu in the middle of the group and which supports a large and solitary moai without a crest, Ahu To Ko Te Riku, which supports a large moai with the pompadour in its place and, on the other side, Ahu Vari Uri holding 5 moai of various sizes. The large square in front of Ahu Tahai has been restored and there are several interesting features, including the foundation stones of some houses. Ahu Akapu with its solitary moai stands on the coast, north of Ahu Tahai.

Ahu Tepeu

This large ahu is on the northwest coast, between Ahu Akapu and the northern cape. The seaward side of the ahu is the most interesting feature of the structure. It has a 3 meter wall near the center, made up of large vertical stone slabs. Several moai stood on the ahu, but they were all collapsed. To the east of Ahu Tepeu there are remains of an extensive village, indicated by the stone foundations of several boat-shaped houses and the walls of several round houses.

Ahu Vinapu

There are two ahu, side by side, on the valley floor. Both were holding moai, but they collapsed and most are broken, with their faces buried in the earth and rubble.

An interesting find from the Vinapu site is a long red brick stone shaped like a four-sided column that now stands in front of one of the ahu. Obviously it is not a common moai, but if you examine it in detail you can see that it is a kind of moai with arms and hands but no head. It also has short legs, while most moai on the island are legless.

Rano Raraku

Formerly called The Provider, the Rano Raraku volcano supplied the hard basalt where the moai were carved. The mountain is littered with moai at all stages of construction, and there are quarries both on the outside and inside of the slope and on the crater rim. Coming from the south you can see that the slope of the volcano is dotted with moai, most of them upright, but sunk in the ground up to their shoulders or necks so that only their heads appear above the slopes. If you go up from the entrance gate, a 21-meter giant appears, the largest moai ever built. On the southeastern slope stands the only kneeling moai, the Tukuturi, unearthed in 1955. Tall and powerful, they were carved with sharp silica axes. Each face is unique but always shows a solemn attitude. The natives still believe in the power they wield.

Ahu Te Pito Te Kura

On the northern coast of the island, on La Pérouse Bay, are the largest moai ever moved from Rano Raraku and erected on an ahu. The name of the ahu comes from a stone called «te pito te kura» («the navel of light»). In height, body proportions and general appearance it is similar to the tall moai still buried up to the neck in Rano Raraku.

Anakena

Anakena is the legendary land where Hotu Matua landed. There are many heads in the area. The islanders believe that Hotu Matua occupied one of them while waiting for his beach house to be built. Nearby are the remains of an unusually large hare paenga (boat-shaped house). It was originally 25 meters long.

Poike Peninsula

The eastern end of the island is a high plateau called the Poike Peninsula. The western limit of the peninsula is marked by a narrow depression called Ko te Ava o Iko, or Iko trench, which runs from one side of the island to the other. According to legend, it was built by the Long Ears to defend themselves from the Short Ears, by separating Poike from the rest of the island.

La Aldea Ceremonial Orongo

Almost covered by a layer of reed reeds, Rano Kau Lake looks like a gigantic witches’ cauldron. Perched 400 meters on the edge of the Rano Kau crater wall, facing the sea, the ceremonial village of Orongo occupies one of the most breathtaking areas of the island. It was the most important ceremonial place, especially in the last period. The village appears to have been the center of a bird cult associated with the gods Make Make and Haua. The village is partially restored and has a stunning setting. The houses were built by carving a floor into the hillside, the walls were made with horizontal and overlapping stone slabs and the roof consisted of stone slabs creating an archway. The island’s museum is some distance from the coast, halfway to the Ahu Tahai Ahu Akapu. Every February, the Tapati Rapa Nui is held, a week of aquatic and land competitions in the style of the ancestors, along with ceremonies that commemorate the beginnings of this ancient civilization.