Rapa Nui (Easter Island or Isla de Pascua in Spanish) is one of those places you come to be entrenched in mystery, simplicity and kindness.
We first arrived to a blustery afternoon serenaded by local music and leis. We were greeted at the airport by our friendly host Maria and drove 20 meters before reaching Hotel Marari. We consumed a delicious serving of ceviche and a guava smoothie. Then we set off to explore the coastal moai (famous statues) by foot. We saw one after another, all of the various shapes, sizes and styles, and each more ambiguous than the next.
The following day we explored the island with our rental car and I practiced driving manually. We visited Rano Raraku on the East corner of the Island, which flaunted a volcanic crater lake and housed countless Moai. There we saw the quarry and the tools that were used to carve the giant figures.
In the afternoon we headed to Rano Kau (a stunningly unique crater lake) via a scenic coastal road making several stops for photos with more Moai. Along the way we stumbled upon Anakena a quaint beach, housing several Maoi and petroglyphs. There, fate introduced us to our refreshingly generous new friend Julio. Later we wandered through the ruins of the ritualistic city Orongo. The ruins overlooked Rano Kau a lake surrounded by solidified lava and an opening that looks like a giant took a bite out of it, exposing an epic view of the turquoise ocean. We finished the day off with a nightcap at a beachside restaurant overlooking Tahai (more moai) under a well-defined rainbow.
On our third day, we explored every hidden gem the island had to offer, guided by Julio. We visited Maunga Terevaka, a 3-hour hike that took us to the highest point on the island. The size of the island was all put into perspective at the top with unforgettable panoramic views and 50mph winds. Then we switched gears and familiarized ourselves with what the island hides under the surface as we crawled through several caves. The best cave ended with two different openings on a cliff with a steep drop off into the ocean.
We finalized our visit with a viewing of Rapa Nui, a movie directed by Kevin Costner about the ancient civilization’s demise.
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