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Easter Island: The Destination For Off-The-Beaten-Pathers

Rocky Casale - February 23, 2016

Rocky Casale is an American writer living between London and Naples, Italy. His writings on travel trends, food, design, architecture and eco-business reports appear in publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Condé Nast Traveler.

Getting to Easter Island is a challenge that most intrepid travelers gladly accept. You might not even notice the volcanic landmass while scanning a map of the Pacific Ocean; the petit island is one of the world’s most remote.
Incidentally, it’s at the top of the list for many adventure seekers and off-the-beaten-pathers, intrigued by its crystal-white beaches and ancient architecture. But the real draw card is standing beneath the colossal moai—the mythical statues synonymous with the island.

Your first day on the island, hop into a Jeep to visit Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the moai reside. The sheer magnanimity of these mysterious, archaeological entities is enough to spark contemplation and meditation, with their looming magnificence imparting indescribable awe.

Those so inclined can explore other parts of the island via bicycle. Park your two-wheeler at the top of the island’s extinct Rano Kau volcano and walk down into its pond-filled crater. Here stands the ceremonial stone slab village of Orongo—former home of a bird man cult, whose egg sacrifices to the fertility gods remained heavily in practice until the 1860s.

For 360 degree vistas of the Pacific, trekking to the highest point of Easter Island is easiest upon horseback. The prime time to trot to the top is right after sunset—thousands of mile away from its closest neighbors, nothing comes close to stargazing from the remote island.

Although nothing like that of a city, Easter Island’s culinary prowess is slowly on the rise. Piping hot empanadas stuffed with fresh tuna are aplenty, as is ceviche made from the day’s catch and curanto (hot rock fish), cooked on stones covered with plantain leaves. Renowned French-Polynesian dishes and local fruit juices make dining at Te Moana a must; meanwhile, Pisco Sours (or some such derivative from the Chilean mainland) are the quintessential drink of choice—quench your thirst with one at Kaloa’s Bar while watching the sun burn red across the flat Pacific.

For more laid-back exploration, head to postcard-perfect Anakena to catch rays amid thickets of slanted palms, encircling white coral sands and a crystal blue cove. Scuba diving and snorkeling around the reefs are highly encouraged; visibility in the turquoise waters surrounding Easter Island allows swimmers to see as far as 70 feet down on a clear day. Thrill seekers, meanwhile, forgo the serene shores in lieu of hunting down high tide swells at Papa Tangaroa and Paka Ai bays.