Easter Island is home to one of the world’s great mysteries: the giant stone statues called “moai.” Hundreds of moai, with their iconic large heads and small bodies, were made by the Rapa Nui people.
The best way to experience them is on a group tour of the dozens of sites around the island. There are so many it would take you two days to see the main sites.
Visit one of the quarries where the statues were made out of hardened volcanic ash, from around 1200 to 1500. The largest quarry is Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater on the other side of the island from Hanga Roa, the main village. Half-finished moai lie on the ground around the crater.
Learn about the birdman religion and its annual competition to bring back a valued egg from a nearby islet.
Hear the many theories of how the Rapa Nui moved these beasts, some of which weighed 90 tons. Local legend has it that the moai walked all the way to stone platforms called “ahu.” Some archaeologists agree this could have happened ? with some rope and a bit of clever thinking.
But you don’t need to know how the moai were moved to be in awe of the achievement. You don’t have to believe in a higher being to feel the weight of mystery on the island.
As night comes, it’s time to eat! You can get pizza, Chilean or even Japanese. But you’re in Rapa Nui, so enjoy a traditional meal, like “umu” ? that’s an earth oven made by digging a hole in the ground to slow-bake food on top of hot stones. It’s a great way to end your day in this land of mystery. (T)