Easter Island

Rapa Nui is a triangular-shaped island with a surface area of about 166 km^2, located just below the Tropic of Capricorn at 27° 09’ latitude south and 109° 23’ longitude west. The island has a climate characterized as subtropical oceanic. The climate is heavily influenced by winds and ocean currents. The average temperature is 21 C, with a range from 15 to 28 C in summer and 14 to 22 C in winter. The average annual rainfall is approximately 1,125 mm. May and June are the rainiest months, with temperatures ranging between 17 and 20 degrees C, with an average of about 20 degrees C. It may become cold at night, so make sure to bring appropriate clothing.

The island was created by the action of three main volcanoes, Terevaka, Katiki and Rano Kau, which correspond to the main peaks on the island. It is essentially the peak of an enormous underwater mountain 200 kilometers wide at its base and around 4,000 meters in height, in which only the peaks of its main volcanoes emerge above the water. At its maximum, the island is 24 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide.  The highest point is the volcano Maunga Terevaka with 530 meters above sea level.

There are more than 70 parasitic cones (a volcanic structure) and secondary craters. Rano Raraku is probably the most famous volcano, because it is the source of the limestone that was used to carve the famous Easter Island statues or Moai.  The Puna Pau, a small runoff cone located northeast of Hanga Roa, produced the large red cylindrical stones placed on many of the Moai statues.

The characteristics of the marine floor, ocean temperatures, and currents prevent the formation of the coral reefs characteristic of other tropical Polynesian islands. This results in a marine erosion that is the main factor that has modeled the island since its emergence three million years ago, giving rise to large cliffs that make up the rocky coast, which lacks the benefit of sheltered bays.


The island was populated by Polynesian peoples, probably during the first centuries AD. Its geographic location at the edge of the Polynesian Diaspora, as well as the prevailing winds and ocean currents, left the island beyond the area used by the regular shipping companies.

The island is now part of the Chilean region of Valparaiso. It has a population of 3,791 inhabitants (1,985 men and 1,806 women), with a population density of 23.17 inhabitants per km2 (2002 census). The most important economic activity is tourism, followed by agriculture, fishing, raising livestock, and handicraft production. The official language of the island is Spanish, but the traditional Rapa Nui language is also spoken.  The currency is the Chilean peso, with a current exchange rate of about 500 pesos to the dollar.

Time difference: Easter Island is six hours behind Greenwich Meantime and two hours behind continental Chile.

Appropriate clothing: Light clothing is recommended, comfortable shoes, a light jacket for protection from sudden rain, and protection from the sun (hat, sunglasses, and sun block).

Electrical current: 220 V, 50 Hz

Banks: There are only two banks on the island (Banco Estado and Banco Santander), which are open from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays. The banks can exchange US dollars, Euros, and traveler’s checks issued in US dollars, as well as provide cash with VISA cards issued from outside Chile. There are three automatic tellers on the island.

Credit cards and travelers checks: The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, Diners, and to a lesser degree American Express. Be aware that Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so make sure to have cash with you.  Traveler’s checks are widely  accepted.

Tourist information: The office of national tourism service is open from 8:30 to 17:30.  Business hours are Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00 and 17:00 to 20:00.

Renting vehicles and public transport

There are several places on the island for renting bicycles, motorcycles, and cars, such as the Oceanic Rent a Car and the Rent a Car Insular. The latter also rents bicycles, and has a business renting cabins, TEANVI. Taxis are another means of getting around within the urban area.

Boating: Boats can be rented at Motu in front of Orongo. The boats have a maximum capacity of 8 persons. For the price, one should consult with the fishermen in Hanga Roa cove.

The ORCA Diving Center, located in the Hanga Roa Otai Cove, rents diving equipment for exploring the coast underwater.

Internet access: Some hotels have internet connections and there are internet cafes open to the public.

Religion: Sunday church services have become something of a tourist attraction because of the unique quality of the music and singing that integrates elements in the Rapa Nui language. The church itself is interesting because of the mixture of Polynesian and Western ornamentation.

Local cooking: The local cooking is very simple, but with specialties like the curanto, which is a dish mixing shellfish, meat, chicken, sausages, and potatoes, as well there are tapioca, banana, and pineapple pastries. There is an open market that has been very popular with visitors, where traditional foods are available.

Traditional ceremonies:  There are several traditional celebrations during the year such as the Tokerau and Tapati Rapa Nui, the latter being the most important celebration in the Rapa Nui culture. Ancestral customs are maintained through these events through song, dance, and other traditions.

Useful Information: Be aware that All passengers with passports form Australia, Canada, United States, and Mexico must pay a reciprocity tax before entering Interpol control at the Santiago Airport. This is in reciprocity for the cost that Chileans must pay to enter the respective countries. More information at:


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