Like many wanderers, my ultimate dream is to find the one place on earth that feels furthest away from hometown. I always wondered what it would be like. What would be the one unique quality that would make that destination seem so much different from every other place? Well, as it turns out, for me that place was Easter Island and the difference has as much to do with the giant stone statues as it did with the island itself.
Easter Island is about as remote a location as you can imagine. This tiny volcanic island sprouted from the sea floor about halfway between the coast of Chile and New Zealand, so approximately 3,000 miles from anything else. Remarkably, some ancient tribe of travelers landed here and made it their home. They also, for reasons unbeknownst to us, constructed hundreds of 20 foot tall stone faces that make this island so famous. In order to reach Easter Island, you first have to book a plane either to Santiago, Chile or Auckland, New Zealand and only from there can you visit this otherworldly place.
Now it’s difficult to convince someone to consider visiting Easter Island, after all, it’s just statues right? Well, I can definitively say no. Easter Island has a natural beauty and peacefulness that belies the violent history that shaped the culture of this place. For anyone even remotely interested in history, nature or unsolved mysteries, it is a land that cannot be missed. On your first day, take the opportunity to visit the museum in Hanga Roa. From this main city, the museum tells the story of the island and about the many people who have come to claim this territory. Once you get a feel for the people, then you can strike out towards the statues at Ahu Tongariki.
These are the most famous of all of the sculptures and they are the ones that people see most often in photographs. They are arranged in a line, all fifteen of them staring out like the guards in front of Buckingham Palace, overseeing the quarry from which they were built. There are hiking trails in and around these figures, so visitors can explore the world that they inhabit. There is a strange, almost eery, beauty to the location and it makes for a good day of quiet contemplation. Two other sites have statues that are must-sees: Ahu Akivi and Ahu Nau Nau. Ahu Aviki is one of the most picturesque sights I have ever seen, with seven great figures surveying a far green country. Ahu Nau Nau is more quaint with just three figurines on one of the only two beaches on the island.
Next, take the time to visit the two volcanoes responsible for the island’s existence: Rano Raraku and Rano Kau. Both of the volcanoes are topped by bowl-shaped craters, filled with ancient lakes. As you climb up Rano Raraku, you can see the statues that were never completed or that have since toppled over. From several vantage points, there are faces still staring out from the sides of rocks that never became complete figures. The hike up Rano Kau brings you face to face with ancient petroglyphs, a town that’s nearly a millennia old named Orongo and a breath-taking sea view. There is a quiet magic in this place that makes it so unique. I don’t know if it stems from the island, the sea, the people or those giant statues, but it makes it one of the most fantastic places I’ve ever been.
Written by the Marketing Department for Los Angeles car accident lawyer, Paul E. Lee.