Easter Island

Easter Island

Postcard of the Week #30

If you’re looking to break up a long flight from South America to Australia, try island hopping across the Pacific: Santiago to Easter Island to Tahiti to Auckland to Melbourne.  Because only seven seats were ever available with air miles to and from Easter Island on LAN, we snatched up this set of flights almost the exact moment they became available on March 1st, 2013 (practically a year in advance).  We allotted two full days on Easter Island, which seems short but turned out to be just right.

Easter Island is known as Isla de Pascua in Spanish and Rapa Nui by the Polynesians who first colonized it.  It is a special territory of Chile and one of the most remote inhabited places in the world.  To maximize our limited time here, we booked two full-day tours with Green Island Tours.  It was great to finally see the stone statues (moai) that make Easter Island famous, as well as to hear their stories from an actual Rapa Nui person who was our guide.  We certainly didn’t have the energy or attention span to read up on all the history ourselves, so he helped bring everything to life.  The downside, though, was that we were taken to the sites at all the worst times for photography.

Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island

Great… the statues are completely backlit so we can barely make out their faces!

We suppose we shouldn’t complain too much about the poor picture opportunities.  While we could have booked a “photography tour” to see the statues in the best lighting conditions, we instead went with the cheapest option, which was a “small group tour.”  The “small group” ended up having one extra person the first day and just the two of us the second day–not bad considering it was half the cost.

Now why did we find two days to be enough?  Easter Island is an excellent example of the over-exploitation of natural resources.  Since the native trees that once covered the island in tropical forest were harvested to extinction, the place looks desolate compared to other Polynesian islands.  Also, once you’ve seen all the moai, there’s not much reason to see them again.  Then there’s the one small town of Hanga Roa, where food options are a little limited and expensive because it all has to be flown in.  Unless you have other activities in mind, like diving, with two days you can easily cover all the important Rapa Nui sites.  Don’t get us wrong… it’s still a culturally interesting place worth seeing.  And if you want beautiful pictures to remember this once-in-a-lifetime destination, make sure to splurge for the photography tour.