How Many Days Do You Need in Easter Island to See Everything?
Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is an island belonging to Chile and located deep in the Pacific Ocean. It was once inhabited by the Rapa Nui civilization, who left stone statue heads called moai around the island. These iconic monoliths make the place the stuff of legends since no one really knows their meaning. Although there’s a lot to do on the island, many people often ask how many days it takes to see everything. Read on for a list of all there is to do, along with how long it’d take to do it.
Rano Raraku National Park
This is the main site for spotting more than half of the Moais. These human statues are said to be the faces of deified ancestors who are believed to offer protection. The Rano Raraku National Park allows you to see them in different stages of craftsmanship. All the statues have distinct human expressions. You may also hike the volcanic crater behind the park to witness a breathtaking view. A tour of the place takes about 7 hours. Thus it’s best to dedicate a single day to it since it can get kind of tiring.
Days so far: 1
Head over to Ahu Tongariki for the most iconic sunrise you’ve ever seen. 15 Moais are re-erected here, side by side, after being displaced in a tsunami. Although beholding them is a magnificent sight at any time, they look most awe-inspiring when the sun is coming up from right between them. A point to note is that sunrise takes place at 8:30 AM in this region. A sunrise Ahu Tongariki tour takes about 3 hours, including transportation, and it’s a good idea to stay on after to take some of the best photographs you could ever imagine.
Days so far: 2
Tour of the Island
Since Easter Island isn’t that huge of a place, it’s very easy to take a bicycle tour of it yourself. You can explore the whole island within a day! You can expect to rent a bike for around $13. Another option is to rent a car, which goes for about $80. Yet another option is just to take an official tour, which is best if you happen to be a history and culture buff. There are many sights to see and quite a lot of photographs to take. It would also be a good idea to start the tour with viewing the sunrise at Tongariki; that way, you won’t have to designate an extra day to it.
Days so far: 2
Anakena Beach + Surfing + Snorkeling
Anakena Beach was one of the first settlements on the island. It features a few ever-present Moais, but also offers an excellent opportunity to lose yourself in its white powdery sands and soothing waters. The beach is a little colder than most places yet is as relaxing as anywhere. Swimming here feels divine! A full-day tour of the beach begins at 9 AM and lasts for 8 hours. There’s a lot to do. The itinerary starts from Hanga Roa, which is a great spot to rent a board and get your surf up. You can even go snorkeling with the sea turtles! You’ll also get to see caves, beaches, as well as Rano Raraku volcanic crater.
Days so far: 3
Although there aren’t any proper mountains on Easter Island, it does have quite a few volcanic hills. The tallest of these is Terevaka, which is 507 meters above sea level. Since this isn’t that great a height, it’s less strenuous to hike these hills. Climbing to the top of Terevaka reveals to you a panoramic view of the island from its highest point. The ascent takes about 2 hours, while the descent takes about 3. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the sights in between. Your Instagram feed is begging you.
Days so far: 4
Sunset from Tahai + Stargazing:
If you start your Terevaka hike earlier in the day, you’d have plenty of time to rest up and then also witness the sunset from Tahai. The sun sets around 8:10 PM on Easter Island. Tahai is the best place to watch an Easter Island sunset from. The view looks kind of like this: five moai standing in front of the sea with the sun sinking into the water behind them. It’s incredibly picturesque.
It doesn’t end there, though. Since there’s virtually no pollution in this area, it’s a great spot to gaze at the cosmos. You can even take a stargazing tour. Prepare to be astonished because of this otherworldly beauty!
Days so far: 4
20 meters below the surface of the ocean lies a Moai. You can take pictures with the statue if you opt for a dive in these waters. A dive takes about 2 hours, and there are two main scuba diving centers – Mike Rapu and Orca Diving Centre. Two things you should know, though: unfortunately, the moai isn’t authentic. It was artificially constructed as a diving attraction. The dive isn’t cheap either; it’s around $60 for a dive. We’ll give you a moment here to Google underwater photographs of the moai so that you can realize that it’s all worth it.
Do you need a full face scuba mask?
Days so far: 5
Enjoy the Experience of a Traditional Dancing Show
Although the Rapa Nui civilization isn’t around anymore, some aspects of their culture have still been retained. An example of this is the traditional dance, although it’s only performed during shows and special occasions. Vaitemiki in Hanga Roa put up free shows on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. Besides that, Kari Kari offer shows as well as meals for an entrance fee. These shows do tend to get the audience involved, so be prepared for that. They don’t last longer than two hours.
Days so far: 5 (considering the dive and dancing show are attended the same day)
Located at the North of Hanga Roa Village, the Museo Antropologico Padre Sebastian Englert houses various impressive artifacts, such as the only originally coral eye that was used to adorn the Moais. Those interested in the culture of the civilization would enjoy this stop immensely. Visiting the air-conditioned building also provides a good opportunity to escape the sweltering midday heat outside.
Days so far: 6
Birdman Competition at Orongo
In contrast to the living, breathing town of Rano Kau, Orongo is now uninhabited, yet another window into Rapa Nui culture and history. The Birdman competition used to be held at this location, where representatives from each village on the island competed against each other in risky climbing and swimming matches. The end goal was to procure the first bird egg laid in the season. The winning village would then rule over the island for a whole year.
Orongo is a popular destination in the village because of its historical and cultural significance. It’s best to come here with a guide who knows their way around the place – so that you can get the full insight into Birdman history. A half-day tour of the town would typically start around 9:00 AM and lasts about six hours. In the interest of time, it would be a good idea to visit the Anthropological Museum right after.
Days so far: 6
Visit the Catholic Church
The church in Hanga Roa is one of the more unique religious establishments you’ve seen. It’s a marvel of architecture with mysterious and intricate carvings on the pillars and is also a symbol of the island’s unique art style. A little piece of history that would contextualize your visit is that Christianity was introduced to the island in 1864 and quickly overtook a lot of the ancient tradition already in place.
Days so far: 7
Something a little different from beach hopping and Moais is a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Take a break between your beach days and spend a few hours here. Although the Gardens mostly house introduced flora, they’re still pretty refreshing to look at and enjoy (as well as take pictures with). Call up the family who owns the Garden, and they can arrange pick and drop services for you. A visit usually costs about $5.5. You could also encounter butterflies!
Days so far: 7 (assuming you visit the Polynesian Church and Botanical gardens on the same day)
Check out the Kaloa Restaurant
Although Easter Island isn’t exactly known for its local cuisine, you should still pay a visit to Kaloa Restaurant, dubbed the best restaurant on the island. While there isn’t much variety at other places, Kaloa Restaurant has a lot on its menu: fish, burgers, pizza, empanadas, etc. The dishes are mouthwatering! Another bonus is that this restaurant is more reasonably priced than the other options available on the island; you can have a delicious Chilean meal without tearing a hole through your pocket. If you’re a little indecisive, we’d say that your best choice should be the ‘Fish of the Day, whatever it is. That, paired with one of their irresistible mango desserts, will make your stomach sing!
Days so far: 7 (Assuming you visit the Polynesian Church, Botanical Gardens, and have dinner at the Kaloa Restaurant on the same day)
Explore the Ana Kakenga Cave
The Ana Kakenga Cave is a must-see for everyone, even including those who have visited all kinds of caves around the world. What makes it a marvel is that it actually has two entrances that expose one to two very different but breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Since it also faces West, the openings are great spots to look at the sunset from. Our tip is this: Ana Kakenga Cave isn’t for the claustrophobic (ideally, no cave is for the claustrophobic), the entrance is narrow, and the crawl leading to the opening is quite constricting. Be sure to take a head (or torch) light along with you.
Days so far: 8
If you like horses, you’ll adore your time on Eastern Island! There are just so many of these jolly creatures all around that it’s no surprise that horseback riding is one of the most popular activities on the island. It’s a great way to occupy yourself for a few hours and blow off some energy. A good tip is to be sure to speak to a guide beforehand; if you’re a nervous rider, they will accommodate you with a gentler horse.
Days so far: 8 (Horseback riding will only take a few hours, so it can be combined with any other activity and so won’t really take an extra day)
Enjoy the Rocky Coastline
Although the beaches and Moais are the main attractions of Easter Island, don’t miss out on the sights and sounds of the rocky coastline. The rocky coastline is a lovely place for those who want to surf the big waves and spear fish deep – and also, take great pictures! The coastline is absolutely gorgeous to behold, especially during sunset. Do spend a while relaxing here.
Days so far: 9
Go Explore and Look for Ancient Petroglyphs
The Rapa Nui civilization left their mark on the island in the prominent forms of the Moais, but they also craved ancient petroglyphs all over the place. Along with the Moais, these carvings tell the story of the Rapa Nui civilization. They’re just as important to the culture as the Moais, so go ahead and search for them! The Moais without the petroglyphs definitely present an incomplete picture.
Although you can find the petroglyphs all over the island, some of the more striking ones are present close to Te Pito Kura. It’s best to take a guide with you so they can tell you all about the fascinating history and meanings behind the carvings.
Days so far: 10
Explore Ana Te Pahu Cave
Along with Ana Kakenga, the Ana Te Pahu cave is one of the must-visit caves on Easter Island. Stretching for over 7 km along Rapa Nui, it’s the largest lava channel on Easter Island, also making it the most impressive. The climb down to the cave is a little treacherous, but you’ll forget once you actually get there. The caverns are natural marvels, covered with shrubs and greenery and all. Do wear a good pair of shoes as well as a headlamp if you want to see your way around!
Days so far: 11
Have a Look at some of the Less-Visited Caves
Along with Moais, Easter Island is also covered in caves and caverns. Although finding all of them could take days, it’s still a nice way to spend the day by exploring some of them. Adventure awaits you!
Days so far: 12
Get a Polynesian Tattoo!
A lot of you might want to skip over this particular one, and that’s completely okay. Daredevils read on. A very interesting souvenir to take home from Easter Island is a Polynesian art piece inked right onto your skin. The art in this region of the world is incredible and extremely culturally significant, so we don’t blame you for wanting it on your body. Although there are many tattoo artists around, the most reputed is the local Andres ‘Panda’ Pakariti, having had 25 years of tattooing experience.
Days so far: 13
Get Easter Island Stamped onto your Passport
Since Eastern Island technically belongs to Chile, a lot of the travelers who go there, unfortunately, won’t get their passports stamped at the airport. Don’t let this hold you back from still getting it, though. If you head on over to a local post office in Hanga Roa, you can get an iconic stamp on your passport. The stamp pictures the Moais in all their glory. Don’t worry; it’s absolutely legal! All the post office requests is a small donation, and when you get to impress your friends with the exciting Moai stamp on your passport, you’ll definitely consider the effort worth your payment.
Days so far: 13 (Getting the stamp will only take a little while)
So, how many days do you need to see everything on Easter Island? The answer (so far) is about two weeks. When we say everything, we do mean EVERYTHING. From the obvious excursions to the Moais as well as the less expected stops at the Botanical Gardens, Anthropological Museum, and Polynesian Church, we’ve got you covered. You can even go crazy and get a tattoo! Of course, we understand that you obviously don’t have all the time in the world here, and it’d still make an enjoyable trip if you skip over some of the less common activities (lesser caves, rocky coastline, etc. etc.). With this article, you now have available to you a whole list of activities you can partake in on Easter Island, as well as how long each activity would take so that it’s easier for you to plan out your trip. Time does pass by slowly on an island, especially when you’re on the beach. All the worries of the world are behind you. That’s why we love Easter Island so much!