The ideal time to visit Easter Island, one of the most remote islands in the world, is now. During the first half of February, the locale (known as Rapa Nui to its denizens) hosts Tapati Rapa Nui, an annual festival of cultural and sporting activities. Witness, for example, the Tau’a Rapa Nui (Rapa Nui triathlon) which consists of Vaka Ama, the first leg, in which participants paddle across a volcanic crater in rafts made from water reeds. Then, they race around a lake with more than 40 pounds of bananas strapped to their bodies, and finally, they swim across the lake aided by a pora, a floating device made from branches.
Beyond the festival, there’s plenty of relaxation and adventure to be had in the Polynesian locale, which is best known for the monolithic statues called moai which dot its landscape.
To get to Easter Island, connect through Santiago de Chile and then get on one of LATAM’s one to three daily five-hour flights. You’ll get an idea of the scale of the place (just 63 square miles) when you land—from the tarmac you can literally see the front yards of homes across the street.
A short stroll from the airport, Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa is situated directly across from the ocean, while still being in downtown Rapa Nui. The hotel’s design is inspired by the island itself—the grass roofs are a tribute to a historical ceremonial village, and the reception and lounge areas mimic architectural structures that can be seen in local ruins. Each room is decorated with natural materials: Cyprus logs line the ceilings and the beds are framed by volcanic stone. Relax in their spa, which overlooks the Pacific, or take a dip in the pool—the largest on the island.
If you prefer more secluded quarters, book at explora Rapa Nui. Five miles away from the main town of Hanga Roa, explora is a serene spot located off a rustic red clay road. In addition to its 30 rooms—all of which feature expansive views of the ocean and surrounding landscape—the hotel is also home to a health-forward restaurant and a bar with a wide selection of Chilean wines.
SEE THE MOAI STATUES
These giant heads (and torsos) carved out of stone by the early Rapa Nui people are plentiful on the island. They are shrouded in mystery (as people wonder how such heavy mounds of stone were moved around) and revered as living faces of deified ancestors. Many of the moai are still found near the quarry of Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater, but a number of them were transported and set up on platformed shrines known as ahus. No visit to Easter Island is complete without a visit to Ahu Tongariki, which displays 15 moai facing inland.
EXPLORE THE OCEAN
To see the island from another perspective, head to one of the diving centers (or contact your hotel concierge) to rent scuba or snorkeling equipment or take a boat excursion. Don’t miss Matu O Pope, a relatively-undiscovered coastal point with crashing waves where you can picnic or fly-fish.
HIKE THE TERRAIN
Both hotels offer hiking, ATV, and bicycle excursions as a way to take in the unique topography. Start at the Rano Raraku volcanic crater and hike the little-known Ara Moai trail, which is just over four miles. Or take a walk through one of the ancient volcanic tubes like Ana Te Pahu, the largest cavern on the island, or an area called Roihu which offers a long tunnel of petrified lava with natural skylights.
DINE WITH A VIEW
While many visitors tend to eat at their hotels, Te Moai Sunset is the restaurant to try. Enjoy sunset overlooking the moai while indulging in local fish ceviche or tuna with pineapple chutney.
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