Easter Island Moai – Must-See. Easter Island is one of those must-see, unique places on earth, which is the just reward for the potential trials for travel. Scattered across Easter Island, this Pacific Polynesian wonderland, are 900 monolithic status known as the Moai. The Moai were constructed in honor of the Rapa Nui’s (the natives) ancestors from 1250 and 1500. Having the opportunity to explore this island for four days was a travel highlight for me. Here are some of the highlights of the island.
Fifteen Moai are gathered on the largest ahu platform on Easter Island. These Moai were all toppled during the island’s civil wars and then damaged again in the 20th century from a tsunami. Today, they have been reconstructed and repaired. The largest Moai, weighing in at 86 tons, can be found here. This is a breathtaking place to visit, almost a primordial setting with a volcano and the ocean in the background. There is a Park Ranger who will check your ticket, and the area is surrounded by a wall. This is a great place to visit for sunrise. I came here twice for sunrise and was not disappointed.
Seven Moai can be found here on three different platforms. Ahu Tahai is located in the capital of Hanga Roa. This is where I went for sunset. There is an open park at Ahu Tahai, so it is possible to sit, relax, and have a snack as you watch the sunset. Park Rangers will kick you out at 9 pm.
Seven Moai of equal size can be found on this ahu which is located inland. These are the only Moai that are looking in the direction of the ocean, compared to all of the others which look inward.
Ahu Nau Nau
Palm trees dance over seven Moai which are located at Anakena beach on the northern part of the island. Legend has it, that King Hotu Matu’a landed on this beach centuries ago when colonizing the island.
Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater, is the quarry where virtually all Moai were crafted. Three hundred ninety-seven Moai are still littered across the quarry today. The Moai are in different stages of creation; some found barely carved out of the mountain side, and others discarded on their way to the platform for display. One Moai not completed, would have been the largest Moai ever created. Its height would have been 69 feet and it would have weighed 270 tons. It has a fitting nickname, El Gigante. There is also an incredibly beautiful crater lake at the top of the volcano with some additional half created Moai. Well worth the brief walk and relax for a moment to take in the beauty.
And when you get back to the mainland, check out the adventures you can have in Atacama Desert.
Orongo is the site of the birdman cult which took place during the 18th to mid-19th century. This was the time between the Moai error and before Christianity took hold on the island. Orongo is stone village comprised of multiple windowless, round-walled buildings. The cult was centered around an annual competition where birdmen raced to retrieve a seabird’s egg and bring it back to Orongo. The winner’s clan chief would become the leader of Easter Island until the following year. This competition was deadly to some. The competition entails scaling down a sheer 900 foot cliff and then swimming with potential sharks in the open ocean to a nearby island named Motu Nui to retrieve an egg and then return back to Orongo.
Ranu Kao is an amazing extinct volcano next to Orongo. Ranu Kao stands at 1,000 feet and contains a large fresh water crater. The crater is over 3,000 feet across and 600 feet deep. It sits on the edge of the ocean, which you can view since one part of the crater wall has collapsed. You can do a mini-hike around its circumference. The place is fantastically beautiful with vibrant hues of green, blue and a puff of purple. It is a good place to come to for sunrise. I came here for two mornings and I was the only person at the crater.
Knocked Over Moai
During the civil war that took place on Easter Island, all Moai were knocked over. Throughout the island there are many sites which hold the knocked over Moai and damaged ahu. A handful of the Moai and ahu have been reconstructed over the past several decades.
Check out my Ultimate Guide for Easter Island and also where I stayed on the island, Lemu Lodge.
Easter Island Moai – Must-See