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This mysterious place, home to a lost tribe and their unique carved statues, is the most remote island in the world and is well worth the five-hour flight from Santiago to experience its unique wonders.

Located 3,700 km (2,299 miles) from mainland Chile, the island has three names—Easter Island, Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui—depending on where you come from, but it has only one town, called Hanga Roa, where you will be greeted on arrival at the airport in true hula-hula style by a few of the 3,000 inhabitants, believed to be of Polynesian descent.

Exploring Easter Island is easy, as the whole place is just 15 km (nine miles) wide and 25 km (15 miles) long, and there are plenty of folk happy to hire out a jeep for you to get around. It is thought by some that the giant statues were all knocked over by the ancient tribes, the Long Ears and the Short Ears, but they are slowly being resurrected and put onto their plinths to reveal how the place would have looked all those years ago.

A visit to the restored clifftop Ahu Tahai Moai site outside Hanga Roa puts you right in front of five of the high statues which face inland with their backs to the deep blue Pacific. Then, on the other side of the town, there is a road up a hill, winding through trees and bushes, to reach the spectacular Rano Kau volcano crater from which the island was made.

The view from the edge of the crater rim is beautiful and it is possible to walk the circle, staring down at the direct drop into the Pacific and Moto Nui, the three rocks of the “Bird Man” cult, on one side and the unique puddle-filled mossy bowl on the other. Don’t forget to stop at the ancient petroglyphs en-route. The rugged rocky coastline welcomes the crashing Pacific waves as the road heads out of town to the other Moai locations, passing many cave sites that may have been homes to the tribal people in ancient times. The biggest Moai site is Ahu Tongariki, a platform of 15 statues, some with their original red-stone top-knots, while there are many others with fallen or partially restored statues all along the journey.

At the other end of the island to Hanga Roa is Ranu Raraku, the second volcano crater and a fascinating place where the statues were carved in the rock before being cut out and carried to their Ahus around the island. That method is clear to see as there are still many half-carved stones laying in the rock or buried in the ground up to their necks. The most picturesque site on the island can be found by the Anakena beach, where seven Moai stand on a platform in the shade of the palm trees by the white and yellow sand, and where the tranquil sound of the lapping sea can make a spectacular sunbathing spot.

The town itself is pretty, with cobbled streets and a small fishing harbor with a handful of boats, and it makes a nice place to base yourself, staying in the welcoming homestays, eating in the beautiful restaurants overlooking an endless Pacific Ocean and taking in the abundance of local culture and dancing. In fact, the atmosphere of the place is so easygoing that many people arrive for as little as a few days and find it easy to stay for months.

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