FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Easter Island

Easter Island

What is Easter Island?

Easter Island is a name given by Dutch seafarer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722 to the Polynesian island of Rapa Nui. It is a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, known for it's huge moai statues. The island is often called to be the most remote place in the world.

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What is a moai?

A type of gigantic statue made in hundreds by the Rapa Nui people in approximately 1400 - 1700 AD - often placed on ahus. They are what Easter Island mainly is famous for. Read more in the moai section.

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What is an ahu?

Rectangular stone tombs on which moai statues often were placed. Read more in the moai section.

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Why were the moai statues built?

To honor dead leaders and important persons. Read more in the moai section.

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Where is Easter Island located?

3500 km to the west of South America, in the Pacific Ocean. It marks the southeast corner of the "polynesian triangle", of which the other corners are Hawai'i in the north and New Zealand to the southwest.

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What is Rapa Nui?

"Rapa Nui" is the real, polynesian name of Easter Island.

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Why is the island known as "Easter Island"?

On Easter day 1722, a Dutch seafarer disembarked on to the island and chose thereafter to let the outside world know of it as "Easter Island".

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Which languages are spoken?

Everyone speak and understand Spanish well. Rapa Nui language is spoken well by most elders, though those born in the 70s or later often tend to prefer Spanish. English is spoken mostly by those who work in tourism, and sparingly otherwise.

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Easter Island is part of which territory?

Chilean, officially since 9th of Sept, 1888.

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What is the birdman?

The Birdman is the chieftain of the winning tribe of the lethal birdman competitions that took place yearly in the ancient village Orongo, built on the ridge of the volcano Rano Kau.

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How was the annexation treaty signed?

There was no treaty signed, but only a symbolic act. In 1888, the Rapa Nui people were almost extinct as a result of slave raiding, and Chile offered protection for giving them the land. The governing king Atamu Tekena put dirt in one hand and grass in the other. He gave the Chilean representatives the grass, giving them permission to stay on the island, but kept the dirt for himself, meaning that the land will always be of the Rapa Nui people. Up until present day, Chileans have been called "mauku", which is the Rapa Nui word for "grass".

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When should I go there?

High season is during summer (Dec - Feb) when it rains less. The peak is the first two weeks of February for the Tapati Rapa Nui festival. To pick the hotel of your choice during these dates you should book a year in advance.

Tourist operators are active year-round. Those who visit Easter Island for relaxing and staying at the beach go mainly during summer. Those who come for the archaeology go any time of the year. During winter more rain is expected, though you will have green landscapes and the island will not be as crowded. Read more about the Easter Island climate.

Even though some hotels have same price all year round, many charge more during high season, which they often consider to be Nov - April. For this reason, it's often harder to get rooms in the end of October, being close to the summer but still with low season prices. To investigate how dates affect prices, go to the vacation package section.

There is a short dip during the high season in December, which means that rooms are often available during this month.

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How is the climate?

Subtropical. Around 27º C in summer (Dec-Feb) and around 18º C with more frequent rainfall in winter (Jun-Aug). Read more in the Easter Island climate section.

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What clothes should I bring?

During summer months (Dec-Feb) shorts and short-sleeved shirts is mostly used. For the rest of the year, long sleeved shirts, pants and jacket is advisable.

You should always be prepared for rainfall - also during summer, even though it usually doesn't rain.

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How big is the population?

6000-7000 people, depending on the season (more in the summer).

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National park ticket

What is the national park ticket?

Chile has declared sites of archaeological interest at Easter Island a national park to protect these areas. For entering any of the archaeological sites of Easter Island, visitors must show a park entrance ticket. Two of the most interesting sites (Rano Raraku and Orongo) can only be visited once per ticket. This ticket costs 72 000 CLP for foreigners and 20 000 CLP for Chilean nationals, and lasts for 10 days from the visit of the first site. It's sold online at the Ma'u Henua park administration website and in the central marked of the town of Hanga Roa.

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Where is the ticket sold?

At the Ma'u Henua park administration website and in the central marked of the town of Hanga Roa.

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How many days does the ticket last?

10 days. Though, you may according to the Ma'u Henua rules, you may still only enter Rano Raraku and Orongo once per ticket.

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What is the fee for?

It's for maintaining the park and park ranger salary.

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How much is the fee?

Chilean citizens20 000 CLP
All other20 000 CLP

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Is Easter Island safe?

It's hard to think of any safer place than Easter Island. Tourists that are victims to violent crimes such as robbery, rape or murder is unheard of. Unless you're looking for a fight, you can walk by yourself at night without worrying about your safety.

Something that does happen is theft when valuable items are left out for others to see. Don't leave your money, camera or computer in your hotel room. If you don't have a safe-box in your room, ask the hotel for one, or bring your valuables with you.

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What currency is used?

Chilean Pesos (CLP) is the official currency.
1 USD ≈ 500 CLP

US dollars is also accepted in most shops, though better value will usually be obtained by exchanging to CLP.

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Are there any ATM machines?

There are two ATM machines at Easter Island that accept major credit cards.

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Are there any currency exchange offices?

Yes. Exchange service is offered at various places, though the best rate is offered at the gasoline station Puna Vai at the top end of main street Atamu Tekena.

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How much pocket money should I bring?

Eating at a restaurant may cost you 15 000 CLP - 30 000 CLP. There are also smaller kitchens that'll satisfy your hunger for 5 000 CLP. Add a few thousand for taxis, ice creams and other small expenses. With 15 000 CLP - 50 000 CLP per day (depending on where you eat), you should be good.

If you will rent a vehicle, you will have to add this to your budget. The appropriate license is always required. The approximate daily costs are as follows:

Car45 000 CLP
Motocross 125 cc30 000 CLP
Mountain bike15 000 CLP

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Can I charge my laptop/mobile phone?

The voltage is about 220 V. Chargers usually come with a transformer (110 V - 240 V), but you may have to buy a simple adapter to match the chilean plugs. These can often be bought at the shops "Hare PC" or "Kanina".

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Can I drink the tap water?

Usually yes. The tap water at Rapa Nui has a high mineral content, and if you're not used to that and have a very sensitive stomach it might be a good idea to buy bottled water. Some might sense a slight salty taste and the clorine used for desinfecting is sometimes also noticable.

It may happen (even though it's not common) that water is cut for a while due to maintenance. There have been some cases of people experiencing stomach sicknesses once the water returns.

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