It was a coincidence that the small Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean became associated with Easter. Nevertheless, the fact that it has evolved into one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions is no accidental at all.
The main attraction on Easter Island are the monumental stone statues with huge heads. How were they created? What was the method of transporting large stone bricks onto the island? And why do the majority of these statues have their backs to the ocean? Similar questions have been without any convincing answers for a long time. There have even been theories about cosmic interference. However, the years of research have mostly solved these mysteries and ruled out the participation of extra-terrestrials.
Pure happenstance on a Sunday
Easter Island was discovered approximately 300 years ago. An expedition led by a Dutch admiral, Jacob Roggeveen, noticed land that was not marked on their map. This just so happened to take place on Easter Sunday of April 5th, 1722, and therefore the land was named Easter Island by the admiral. However, the natives were not aware of this new name and kept to the indigenous name of Rapa Nui.
The expedition crew did not stay on the newly discovered land for long. They estimated that the island’s population was between approximately 2000 and 3000 people. Moreover, they completely ignored the monumental statues, which would later become the island’s symbol. After a few days, Roggeveen and his sailors sailed further and managed to discover Bora Bora.
Fascinating story of huge stone heads
Today’s tourists are far more interested in Easter Island than the Dutch sailors were. According to Wikipedia, this place is visited by approximately 30,000 people each year. Tourism dollars amount to 15 million.
The island’s inhabitants owe these statistics to the 900 monumental stone statues known as Moai. They have been sculptured in volcanic rock and symbolize significant inhabitants of the island. However, a different theory states that they were made as a tribute to the ancient gods.
The thing that had astonished scientists the most was how the inhabitants were able to move these huge rocks so far inland without the use of wheels or cattle. This mystery has been solved empirically. Moreover, the answer to that question confirmed the local legend of the “walking heads.” It only took fifteen men and a set of ropes to move these monumental statues. Nevertheless, scientists didn’t manage to rule out the version of moving the rocks with the use of wooden logs. This might have been the reason for the lack of trees in the island, as well as for the resignation from finishing the largest statue. The stone giant, which is ten times larger than the heaviest of statues, had been left in the quarry by the inhabitants.
Time has not been as kind for the Moai as it may have seemed at first sight. Many statues have been renovated because they suffered from tsunamis, erosion and tribe wars. If you go deeper into the island, you will notice that some of the statues are still waiting to regain their former shape.
Almost every statue is faces inland. According to the legend, their sight was to protect the inhabitants and ensure wealth. The only exception are the seven scouts who gaze upon the ocean.
The further from home, the more expensive it is
Rapa Nui is located more than 3000 km from the Chilean coast. Due to the fact that the goods are transported there by plane, shopping is much more expensive than it is in other parts of Chile. Moreover, the prices in Easter Island may appear quite shocking for Polish tourists. For example, bread costs approximately 15 PLN and a dinner in a restaurant costs approximately 120 PLN.
Tourists mainly spend money on food, accommodation, souvenirs, vehicle rental, etc. They also buy tickets to the Rapa Nui National Park, which is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The park area’s main attractions are the caves, extinct volcanos and of course the Moai statues. One ticket costs 5000 pesos, which is approximately 31 PLN (1000 pesos is approximately 6 PLN).
The Chilean currency is very difficult to obtain in Poland. Therefore, instead of making attempts to find it, it’s easier to buy American dollars and exchange them to pesos in Chile. The exchange rates are quite favorable and there are many places in Chile that accept payment in the dollar. - Currently, the dollar costs approximately 4 PLN. Since the end of December, the zloty has been strengthening against the dollar. As a result, the dollar expressed in the zloty is the cheapest that it has been in four months – said Bartosz Grejner, Cinkciarz.pl analyst. Cinkciarz.pl offers access to twenty-four currencies, 24 hours a day.
The Big Blue
A subtropical climate is favorable for those who love to spend their time on the beach. Moreover, it attracts new inhabitants to Rapa Nui and they very often happen to originate from Europe. It’s best to avoid planning a trip to Easter Island during April or May because this is their rainy season. Apart from that, the island’s climate is warm, sunny and dreamy. - The ocean is blue and the sand is golden. The local inhabitants not only are sympathetic, but also very attractive people. Women very often wear flowers in their very long, ebony hair – said Julia Janiszewska who is a traveler and has been to Rapa Nui.
Easter Island has been fascinating for Hollywood filmmakers as well. The movie entitled “Rapa Nui” from 1994 reflects the island’s amazing landscapes and tells local legends. It also sticks to the theory that the transportation of the Moai caused the area’s deforestation. Luckily, the inhabitants managed to somewhat revitalize the trees in Rapa Nui.
- The island has never been crowded. This is mainly because of expensive plane tickets, the huge distance from the continent and few flights. It’s very calm there. There is only one town, a few hotels, cafeterias, a camping site and some shops. Everything is very close to the airport. However, the museums are located quite far from the town. This is where renting a vehicle could come in handy. Luckily, there are plenty of car rental companies. And if you need any additional assistance, you can simply ask someone from the hotel. They’re all very helpful – ensured Julia Janiszewska.