Easter Island

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Roughly shaped like a triangle, Easter Island is anchored at each point by an extinct volcano. Most of the island’s 3,500 residents live in Hanga Roa, the only town on the island. The rest of the landscape is dominated by eerily empty, rolling fields, jagged volcanic peaks, dazzling ocean vistas, thousands of wild horses, and, of course, those ubiquitous stone statues.

Easter Island Cities and Regions

Hanga Roa

So far untouched by massive development, Hanga Roa – the island's only town –  is a refreshingly “real,” if somewhat poorly laid out, village. Here you'll find an ATM (yes, there’s only one), restaurants, shops, and most hotels. Establishments are clustered along two main streets: Policarpo Toro, which runs along the waterfront, and Atamu Tekena, which traverses the village.

Northern tip

Dominated by the massive Maunga Terevaka volcano (the highest point on the island at 1,969 feet), the northern portion of the island is a wide-open expanse of grassy, wild-horse-filled hills. Here you'll find the perfectly round Ahu Te Pito Kura stone worshipped by the Rapa Nui, Ahu Akiri with its caves and restored moai, the toppled moai of Ahu Tepeu, and Anakena beach, where the first Polynesian settlers arrived.

 

Southwest corner

The Rano Kau volcano marks the southwest corner of the island, home to the modern town of Hanga Roa and the ancient, town of Orongo with its petroglyph drawings, as well as the toppled moai of the Ahu Vaihu site.

 

Southeast corner

The least trafficked corner of the island owes its loneliness to a lack of roads. The high, flat Poike Peninsula – perfect for hiking – comprises the bulk of this region. Just west of the peninsula lies Rano Rakaru, the quarry that gave birth to the moai, including Ahu Tongariki – the most famous collection of restored statues on the island.

 

Motu Nui

Motu Nui, one of three rocky outcrops a quarter mile off the southeasterly coast of Easter Island, can be seen from the ancient village of Orongo atop the Rano Kau volcano. It was here that villagers would compete for the prestigious title of tangata manu (birdman) by racing one another through shark-infested waters to find, and return with, the elusive egg of the tern, a seabird that typically lays eggs in warm, coastal areas.

 

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