When planning our time in the South Pacific and South America, it was always clear to me that a stopover in Easter Island would be a must do. The little island is approximately midway from both French Polynesia and Chile, making it a convenient stop along the way. Adding to that the mystery of the Moai statues, and our flights were booked! It’s not a cheap place to visit, but there’s an alright camping where we spent our nights.
To see the different Moai statues, we spent the next few days driving around by scooter and hiking to the nearby sites. We were mostly really lucky with the weather: while definitely cooler than what we were used to after our South Pacific adventures, it got quite hot during the day when the sun was out. So our first hike up Rano Kau crater turned out raster sweaty! We passed by our first Moai statue, some cave and then just walked uphill for quite a while. Once we reached the top, we were wow-ed by the crater!! Certainly one of the most scenic ones we’ve seen!
The Orongo ceremonial village on the other hand was not that special for us. This is one of the two places you can only visit once with the Easter Island ticket (the other one being Rano Raraku), and once was enough for us.
We then started our 24h scooter rental in the early evening to be able to watch the sunset at Ahu Tahai – one of the most famous and supposedly best places for sunsets. We were lucky – there were some clouds, but they let the sun through in the most essential moments. I went a bit crazy taking pictures, but hey – I was certainly not the only one, with lines of semi- professional photographers and an annoying drone buzzing over the scene. Still – it was very pretty and I’d consider it a must see! We only realized over the next few days how lucky we had been in regards to the sunset – for the next few days there were always clouds in the way.
Next morning, it was time to wake up early to see the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki. It was a bit of a drive and got quite chilly on the scooter – but soooo worth it!! If the sunset had been great, this sunrise was awesome! In hindsight, this was also our favourite and most impressive Moai site, so we spent a lot of time there, trying to take the perfect photos and returned a few times in the course of the day.
Another beautiful site was the beach and Moai of Anakena – imagine a beautiful white sand beach with lots of palm trees and a couple of scenic Moai watching over it. There you go – this is Anakena!
However, my 2nd favourite place ended up being Rano Raraku – the hill where the Moai were carved out of the rock and many of them left unfinished, laying around in various positions. It’s a very pretty setting with the Moai body parts cluttered across a green hill with good views of the surroundings. There’s a little circuit that takes you past the best places and gives you lots of photo opportunities. We really liked getting so close to the Moai and all that while enjoying views over the island and Ahu Tongariki from the distance.
There’s also a trail leading up to the crater, which is picturesque and funny in a way: horses grazing between more Moai bodies.
On our way back to Hanga Roa, the main town, we made a little detour to see the place where the hats of the Moai got made out of red rock and another site – Ahu Akivi, which is the only place where the Moai are not looking inland but out to the ocean.
But during our scooter day, we didn’t just visit archaeological sites – we also enjoyed the landscape of Easter Island and the quiet roads too drive on. Sometimes the road ahead was blocked by horses or cows and we had to drive through a herd.
In our view, seeing Easter Island by scooter is the best way to do it! It’s small enough to easily be able to see all the farther away sights in one day and it enables you to quickly stop anytime for a photo. Hiking is also very popular on Easter Island, and after our hike on the first day, we walked along the coast and past a couple of Moais to the museum next day. The museum is small but quite interesting and a good replacement for an expensive guide in our view. We learned that (as suspected) all the Moai were re-erected as they had all been overthrown in fights between the different island groups in the past. Further, there was some interesting information about the whole South Pacific region which was nice for us to read after having visited so many countries there.
On our last days, we were a bit unlucky with the weather: We had planned to do one more hike up along the coast, but it was very windy and rainy so we turned around after a bit. Just not worth it in such conditions! We’re happy though that we were so lucky with the weather on our most important sightseeing days and that we managed to see both a really good sunset and sunrise. Not something you can take for granted! With Easter Island, our island time came to an end and we were mainland-bound: South America, here we come!