Abandoned in the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the Chilean mainland, is Easter Island, famous for its wondrous Moai sculptures and ancient cultural celebrations. It was so called because the first European expedition to set foot there, led by Dutchman Roggeveen, sighted the island on Easter Sunday of 1722. Rapa Nui, its name in the local tongue, means belly button of the world.
The world-famous enigmatic sculptures, the moai, are what most people visit the island to see, and they never fail to disappoint. The volcano that is their birthplace, the quarry and all of the sacred sites will keep you in awe. At some sites some Moai have been toppled during ancient disputes between clans. On the Moai Mountain youâ€™ll see sleeping, sprouting Moai as they were first carved horizontally and then hoisted into an upright position so their back could be carved. For good reason, there are strict laws against messing with a Moai, itâ€™s forbidden to stand on the plinths they stand on.
But before you even get to the famous statues, you will be greeted with a mix of Polynesian-style floral garlands and Chilean chaos, at the airport, which is one of the most poorly organized in Chile. If you book a hotel before you depart, though, request to be picked up in the terminal building.
Armed with four days and a well-planned itinerary, you will see most of the island, though youâ€™ll want to stay longer to take advantage of all the hiking, biking, diving or surfing opportunities.
There are many hotels and places to stay on the island, but those looking for a quiet retreat would do well to choose a hotel away from the center of the capital city, Hanga Roa, where the noisy nightclubs can make for a sleepless night!