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The most common response I received when I told people I was going to Easter Island was, “Oh, is that where they have those funny big heads?” As I learned first hand from this experience, those ‘funny big heads’ have a fascinating story and are what I now consider some of the world’s finest and most interesting works of art.
- Trip Motivation and Planning
- LAN Flight Experience
- Tambo Del Inka Resort
- Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
- JW Marriott Lima
- Exploring Lima
- Exploring Easter Island and the Moai
- W Santiago
- Exploring Santiago De Chile
After a wonderful few days in Lima, we headed back to Lima’s airport to hop on a LAN 767 to fly 5 hours completely over water to the destination that inspired the trip, Easter Island.
If you know me, you know I love the world’s most remote places. Some of my most favorite places on this planet are located near nothing else including Barrow (Alaska), Marfa (Texas), Longyearbyen (Norway) and now Easter Island can be added to the list. Easter Island’s Mataveri International Airport is the most remote airport on Earth and home to friendly locals, beautiful scenery, a fascinating past and of course those ‘funny big heads’.
We landed at Mataveri Airport at 6AM before the sun had risen. Because Easter Island is part of Chile, we were an international arrival and therefore needed to go through customs. Most every other flight into this airport is domestic and comes from Santiago so they don’t have the facilities built to handle a 767 full of people at once.
After a significant wait, we were cleared and walked out of the small airport to meet our ride. Most every lodging facility will pick you up from the airport. They only need to know which day you are coming since there is only one or two arrivals per day. Our host picked us up and took us back to Hotel Taura’a where we had arranged to stay 3 nights.
If you look at a map of Easter Island, you will notice there are basically two main driving loops around the island which allow you to see most of the Moai and other major attractions. Knowing we had limited time and a lot we wanted to see, we arranged for a local to drive us around one of the loops the first day and rent a Jeep to drive ourselves around the other loop the second day.
The island is beautiful.
Our guide picked us up and another couple on a AA round-the-world ticket to head out for the day. She did a wonderful job explaining the Rapa Nui culture in the past, present and future.
The story as was told to us was that the Moai (funny big heads) represent ancestors that were built to look over the island and its people. As time went on, this small island was divided into different villages. As tensions grew, the villages were competing and building larger and taller Moai of which each would worship. Eventually the villages ended up in a destructive civil war. The people were unhappy with what was happening and lost the faith they had put in their statue ancestors to protect them. In the end, the villages that had spent so much time building the Moai ended up toppling their village’s own statues. The Rapa Nui later went on to worship the Birdman Cult. This culture is fascinating and I highly recommend you read more if any of this wildy oversimplified summary interested you.
Today, the island is full of Moai in many different forms. Because all the Moai were toppled by the Rapa Nui, only a small percentage have been restored and erected. Others remain toppled or still at the Moai quarry where they were in the process of being built. On both the tour and our Jeep drive we got to experience the magic and mystery of the Moai. The Moai are world class treasures. Because Easter Island is so remote, the Moai are presented free and naturally in nearly the same setting in which they were originally erected. There are no fences, guards or ticket booths protecting the Moai They are just there, towering over the island, still keeping watch.
The lodging was by no means a highlight but I will mention it because many have asked what route I went. There are two upscale and extremely expensive hotels on the island though none of them are affiliated with any chain hotels. We decided to select an affordable B&B named Hotel Taura’a we found on TripAdvisor that mentioned clean accommodations, a good location on the main street in the town, and a home-cooked breakfast.
The hotel met our expectations. Nothing fancy. The hosts were extremely helpful and kind. The breakfast was home cooked each morning and excellent. The only town in Easter Island is called Hanga Roa. The B&B was located on the main street in Hanga Roa so all restaurants were just a short walk away. The only issue we had with the lodging was a lack of hot water in the shower. It didn’t bother us in the slightest but I figured I would mention it for others.
The bottom line
I loved every moment I spent on Easter Island. The island itself is gorgeous and has natural beauty that reminds me of the Hawaiian islands. The Moai are both magical and mysterious. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to experience these world treasures. If you have the time and the frequent flier miles to get yourself to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I would highly recommend a visit. Those ‘funny big heads’ won’t disappoint.