Tongariki Moai, © Can Stock Photo / steve_t
Visit Easter Island – Language
- Moai – a large stone carved head and body without legs.
- Ahu – a sacred site where moai are displayed.
Visit Easter Island – Tours
Many of the major sites on Easter Island are located in Rapa Nui National Park and require a $60 US permit, which is good for multiple days. Cruise ship tours will include the usage fee and will provide a wrist band for continued use after the excursion. Cruise ship excursions can be very expensive. Major online vendors avoid Easter Island cruise ship excursions, because of the high risk of cancellation due to sea swell.
For an online local tour, we like Marcus Edensky who operates Easter Island Travel. The main sites to see are Ahu Tahai, Ahu Tongariki, Rano Raraku quarry and Anakena beach, which can be covered in a half day tour. Round out your visit with a trip to Orongo at the Rano Kau crater and a visit to Ahu Akivi.
Visit Easter Island – Rano Raraku Quarry
Rano Raraku Quarry is a highlight of a visit to Easter Island. Nearly 400 stone moai are found in various stages of carving, strewn about the quarry. Some moai are partially buried and some are toppled and tilted. The quarry ruins create an eerie sensation of ancient cultures rising from the earth. Rano Raraku is in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park.
Rano Raraku Quarry
Visit Easter Island – Ahu Tongariki
With 15 moai carvings, Ahu Tongariki is the largest and most photographed location on Easter Island. Unfortunately the the faces of these moai are shaded in most pictures. The best views are in the early morning or at sunset. Ahu Tongariki is located on the ocean and is only about a 5 minute drive from the Rano Raraku quarry. The moai were knocked down by a tsunami in 1960 and the Thor Heyerdahl expedition righted them again. These moai stone carvings are older and worn, unlike the more intact carvings in the Rano Raraku quarry.
Visit Easter Island – Ahu Nau Nau
This site has 7 restored moai placed just inland from the sand at Anakena Beach, plus one on a nearby hill. Four of the moai have red top knots on their heads. Legend indicates this is the location where the Polynesians landed and formed the first settlement on Easter Island. Anakena Beach is located on the opposite side of the island from Hanga Roa. It takes about 35 minutes to reach Anakena Beach and the main road across the island is paved. The faces of these maoi point inland to the west, so they are best viewed at sunset.
Ahu Nau Nau, Anakena Beach