Located far from the Chilean mainland, Easter Island is a remote and isolated territory, approximately 2,180 miles (3,510 kilometers) to the west and 1,289 miles (2,075 kilometers) east of Pitcairn Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The island, known for its enormous stone statues called moai, is a testament to the ingenuity of the early Rapa Nui people.
Here are ten fascinating facts that every traveler should be aware of when visiting the island:
1. It’s Home to Nearly 1,000 Moai Statues
Easter Island is best known for its 900-plus moai statues, which were carved between roughly 1100 and 1650.
Moai statues vary in size, with some reaching over 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weighing around 75 tons. The largest ever carved (El Gigante), although it was not fully erected, is about 72 feet (22 meters) tall.
They were primarily carved from volcanic tuff, a soft rock found at the Rano Raraku quarry on Easter Island.
2. Easter Island Is a Unesco World Heritage Site
Easter Island, listed as “Rapa Nui National Park,” was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. This status recognizes the island’s cultural significance and aims to preserve the unique archaeological sites, including the iconic moai statues and the ceremonial center of Orongo.
3. It Got Its Name from Dutch Explorers
Easter Island got its name from the Dutch, who called it Paaseiland (Easter Island) to commemorate the day they arrived (on Easter Sunday, 1722). The island’s indigenous people call it Rapa Nui or Te Pito te Henua.
4. It Has a Small Population
Easter Island has a population of around 7,750 people. The population is primarily Polynesian, with nearly all of the residents living in Hanga Roa, the island’s main town and only urban area, located on the southwestern coast.”
5. The Warmest Months Are January-March
The warmest season starts in January and ends in March. During this season, temperatures can reach highs of around 27-28°C (80-82°F) and lows of around 18-19°C (64-66°F).
6. The Coldest Months Are June-August
The coldest season on Easter Island runs from June to August. During this time, temperatures can range from around 18-23°C (64-73°F) during the day, but they can drop to around 13-15°C (55-59°F) at night.
7. The Island Has Limited Plant Life
When Europeans arrived, the only wild tree on the island was the Toromiro tree, and the only wild shrub was the Carolina wolfberry.
Today, the island features just 31 wild flowering plants, 14 ferns, and 14 mosses.
8. The Island Offers Stunning Sunrises
One of the most popular tourist activities is to watch the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki, home to some of the island’s most well-preserved moai statues.
9. There Are Few Beach Destinations
Most of Easter Island’s coast is rocky. However, visitors can explore two sandy beaches: Anakena Beach and Ovahe Beach. These two beaches offer contrasting experiences, with Anakena Beach being more popular and easily accessible, while Ovahe Beach offers a quieter and more secluded atmosphere.
10. It’s Home to Incredible Caves
Easter Island features dozens of incredible caves. One of the most famous caves is Ana Kakenga, also known as the “Cave of the Two Windows” or the “Cave of the Banana”. Located on the southwestern coast of the island near the town of Hanga Roa, Ana Kakenga gets its name from the two openings or windows found within it, which offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.