Easter Island Day 3: The West End of Easter Island


the day started “early”, heading out to our sunrise destination at 7 AM. sunrise was a smidge after 8 AM but the guide wanted to get there early just in case.

normally, most people go to sunrise at Tongariki but we (my guide and i) made a joint decision to instead go back up to the Rano Kau crater (where i started my Easter Island journey), since during the winter months, the sun comes up from the left, over Poike, so it’s not as stunning. we figured that, in addition to having the place to ourselves, watching dawn arrive with a view over the city and lighting up the crater would be a nice alternative.

and twas. what was also great was just standing up there, in nature’s solitude, the only sounds being the chirping of crickets, the wind whooshing by my ears, and the waves far below. several times i closed my eyes, turned into the wind, and let myself be enveloped by my surroundings. absolute serenity.


The city was still very much asleep


A panorama of the area we were standing in, with the crater lake to the right and the city offscreen to the left.


I became obsessed with this winding road and the colors of the sunrise.


OBSESSED, I tell ya’!

after a small break, we continued on to…

ahu akivi

Ahu Akivi is the most inland of the restored ahus, and is special because of its orientation to the sun during the spring and autumn equinoxes. the moai here, unlike most of the rest, face out to sea, which is visible way in the distance.


Another cloudy morning 🙁


The view towards the water


The seven moai. And a grazing cow.

we continued on to where the red tophats were created.

puna pau

this smallish crater was the home to the scoria that the Rapa Nui used to form the pukao, the red tophats that you can still see on a small handful of moai (or on the ground next to toppled ones). many are left there, much like the incomplete moai found at Rano Raraku.


Much man-made damage has been done to these poor pukao over the years before they were barricaded off.


Panorama looking back towards civilization


This was the mascot dog of Puna Pau, greeting us when we got out of the car and following us up the hill.


we rounded the eastern edge of the airport runway to get to Ahu Vinapu, not particularly famous for the toppled moai or the other ritualistic remnants of the Rapa Nui civilization of centuries ago, but for the high technical quality of the stonemasonry of the ahu.


Toppled moai


Looking up the coast


Head around to the back of the ahu and note how well the large stone slabs (still) fit together.


Just a pretty tree trunk I saw on the drive back to town

we headed back to Hanga Roa for a quick bite to eat (empanadas, of course) and continued on to…

ana kai tangata

the seaside cliffs south of Hanga Roa are stunning, but once you head out a bit and look back, you’ll see something even more amazing, seaside caves that have been dug out by eons of crashing waves.


The cliffs that form the edge of the Rano Kau crater and a rocky projection into the water


One of the caves


Looking back over everything. There’s another big cave on the other side of the strip of land.

this was about the time when the afternoon plane from Santiago was supposed to land, so once we heard it overhead we knew it was going to turn around for final approach and we raced over to the end of the runway to watch it land overhead (more on this in my First Timer post). it’s not far, but man did we hustle to the car and speed off!


the final stop of the day was Orongo, the ceremonial village that played a central role in the annual Birdman competition. it’s located on the west end of the Rano Kau crater, which i was very familiar with, and yet still very fond of. the squat houses of the village have been reconstructed, but the view over the three islets (of Birdman competition fame) and the petroglyphs were more impressive to me. well, those and the view of the crater lake, since this was the best place to get a view of where i stood on the very first day, when i felt like king of the world.


My very good friend the crater lake, taken from almost the same spot we were at for sunrise.


The reconstructed village of Orongo


The islets of Motu Nui, Motu Iti, and Motu Kau Kau (back to front)


I stood at the top of the rise over there, on the brink of everything all at once. Amazing.


Putting this picture from Day 1 in here as a reference.

the rest of the day

i had about five hours before my flight, so i spent it walking around town and trying to get things to upload on the super slow internet connection the island has. i also ate more than my fair share of ice cream and stopped by the church. this also happened to be when Chile was playing Australia in the World Cup. most of the establishments in town were closed (it was almost like a ghost town), but when Chile won, it burst back to life — and how!

a popular cheer:

oh, speaking of flights, really no need to get to the airport two hours in advance, at least in the low season. an hour and a half was plenty.

6 Comments on "Easter Island Day 3: The West End of Easter Island"

  1. very interesting.
    -wonder if i can purchase a SIM card on the island
    -im also planning a 3 day trip. for 4 people. what do you think about renting a car please?
    -when is low/high season? when did you go? crowded?
    -how were the prices at restaurants? food/bottle water at stores?

    • hey there! i’m not sure if you can purchase a SIM card on the island. there is an Entel building, but i’m not sure if that’s a store or just an office. in any case, 3G is SO SLOW there and coverage is not widespread (pretty much in town only) so it’s probably best to just use wifi at your hotel/hostel (which is also very very very slow — the island as a whole is poorly connected to the internet. for more information on communication, see my First Timer post.

      in terms of car rentals, i think that’s a good option, especially if one of you can drive a stick shift. you can book ahead of time, or you might be able to rent there if you’re not going during high season. i’ve heard that hotel employees or owners often rent out their own cars. i splurged on a private tour, so i don’t have firsthand knowledge about car rentals, but see here and here for more information.

      high season is during their summer, especially in February when the Tapati festival is going on. i went last week (early June, pretty much “winter”) and it was considered low season. it was not very crowded, but you run the risk of storms during winter. i was lucky and came right between two storms.

      prices are relatively high due to its isolation. empanadas (fairly large) are about $5 USD, entrees at a restaurant will run you around $20 USD. large bottles of water or soda are around $3. plenty of small convenience stores in Hanga Roa.

      hope that helps and have a great trip!

  2. awesome. thanks for the info.
    youd think theyd have satellite internet for non-mobile devices.. guess they must not need it!
    car rental seems like a mom-pop business.. no major chains. should be no problem.
    -did you stay at a hotel? price please?
    -im planning on late march-early april.. still busy season technically from what i understand. i also plan to do some scuba.
    -$5 seafood empanadas sound great! i dont mind avoiding restaurants

    • no prob. alas, i heard there is just one satellite connection that hooks all voice and data from the island to chile — that’s it. :\ so it’s slow, and everyone is using the same bandwidth.

      i stayed at a hotel, the inaki uhi, which as i recall was $95 a night or so. the room was basic but clean. there is no breakfast but you have a kitchen at your disposal. there is also no TV, but that wasn’t a big deal for me.

      there are scuba places at the harbor in hanga roa as well as down by the smaller harbor at hanga piko just south of the main part of town — the water was so clear it’s absolutely amazing!

  3. Enjoyed the writeup and your pics are great! Going to Easter Island later this summer and greatly looking forward to it.

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