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  • Writer's pictureNiki Harry

Chile: Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Updated: May 25, 2019

After 4 full days at sea and 4260 kms we arrived at Easter Island. I set the alarm to wake up early as I really wanted to be outside upon arriving to see my first island but it was still dark out. I was surprised by the amount of lights on the island but we stood around and waited until dawn broke. We went off to breakfast and had a great view when the sun started to come up for a brief moment of time. The colours were absolutely gorgeous over the island.

On our pool deck at dawn's early light

Luckily the swells weren’t as bad as they thought they would be and the captain was able to anchor the ship. I was so worried that we wouldn’t be able to stop here as supposedly the ships ahead of us in the past few days could not anchor and had to skip this island. There is no port on this island and the rocky shore makes it very dangerous and rough therefore the captain needs to make the call each time.

We were supposed to meet at 9:15 for our specific island tour that we were doing. But it turned out that the swells were still pretty bad so it took forever to load everyone onto the tenders. The tenders were bopping up and down in the water approximately 6ft above and below the main ship doors. Our group had to wait and did not get our turn until about 12:15! I was shocked that they actually continued because there are so many elderly people who were not very mobile! It took 2 people on the ship and 2 people on the tender to hold on to us and then to time it exactly when the two boats were level so you stepped over right before it went down again. Crazy! If they let go of you by mistake and you fell between the two boats you would be crushed! Because of how difficult it was it took a few hours to get 580 people off. This was the only time that we had a wait during this entire 16 day trip. But obviously if the captain thought it was unsafe or his staff were incompetent they would have never allowed it. Not once did it ever feel unsafe, it was an exhilarating adventure!

But we made it to the island and everyone was thrilled about it. By this point it was raining quite hard. The surf was so bad along the shore but there was one section where they snunk us in through a narrow channel and into a small port where we got off.

Our group were directed to a bus that took us to the first set of Moai at Abu Akivi. The 7 largest ones that face the sea. They are 14ft (4.3m) tall. Its also a burial ground as the leaders are buried here. At least it wasn’t pouring rain so that we could still take photos. We spent about 20 minutes here taking photos, wandering around and getting the history from our guide.

This site is located on the highest point of the island & in the most important and elaborate platform of all of them. This is located in a territory of the powerful Miru clan, one of the highest ranking tribes. It is thought that the moai were placed here about 150 years before the first contact with European visitors. The statues were transported from 15kms away over rough terrain and it is unknown how they were transported. They are 14ft tall and have an average weight of 5 tons each!

Behind me is all sacred burial grounds. You could not get any closer to the statues as the rock line behind me was the boundary of no walking past.

It is said that the moai of Ahu Akivi are the only statues that look at the sea of the whole island, since the rest turn their back on the ocean. It is thought that the rest were placed to watch over and protect the inhabitants of the village - since they faced inland.

There are many moai still buried in the ground. All the island’s moai were toppled over in the 18th century & there are various beliefs as to why, but many have been dug out and restored.

The Tahai site was among the first to be restored. Tahai is one of the oldest settlements on the island whose earliest remains date back to 700 AD. That is our cruise ship visible in the background.

Ahu Tahai has a single solitary moai about 15ft (4.5 meters) high. And the Ahu Vai Uri, the five restored moai are a sample of the different styles of how they were carved. Construction dates from 1200 AD.

Ahu Ko Te Riku is the last and singular platform located further north. Above it rises a single moai of 16.7 ft (5.1 meters) high. The other differentiating element of Ahu Ko Te Riku is that it is the only moai that has eyes on the whole island. It was considered to come alive and could project the spiritual power to protect its tribe.

We were taken to a few different sites around the island, then to the village where we got to rummage through a souvenir store for some shopping.

It rained most of the day, which was a shame but we were still thrilled that we got to come and experience this incredible little island. I loved the little port village with all the colourful fishing boats.

It was still rough and the swells were still high when we headed back to our ship but it didn't take as long to get back on.

Before we departed, the local people came on board the ship and performed a dance and instrumental show for us.

It was so sad because their children were supposed to come on board and do the show with them. They had trained for a long time. Due to the strong swells and rough seas, they were not allowed to come on board for safety reasons. They had to improvise for the show and we all felt super bad for them. They did a great show of dancing, drumming and guitar playing for us.

And with that, we departed Easter island and were on our way for a couple of days out to sea until we arrived at our next stop; Pitcairn Island.

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