City Spotlight: Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

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Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

January-February, 2016

Length of Visit: 4 Days

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Introduction

Oh, Easter Island.  The midpoint of our journey in early 2016, and the beginning of a whole new journey.  Easter Island has always been a Bucket List Stop for me, so I was thrilled to be going there, but, as many of you know, it’s also the spot where L asked me to marry him.  This magical place is so worthy of the hype, and ten blog posts couldn’t begin to show you why – you can only understand by visiting.

What you need to know: Hanga Roa is the main (read: only) town on Easter Island, known throughout the rest of the world as Isla de Pascua.  The town is sleepy and walkable, but not anywhere we felt the need to spend a great deal of time.  The island is a part of Chile and is located in the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. It boasts the most remote commercial airport in the world, and the nearest Island is 1,289 miles away.  It is, of course, most famous for the “big heads” – moai. And they are a sight to see.

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Lodging: Cabañas Koro Nui

This was a great Airbnb experience from start to finish!  Nicole and Jaime are fabulous hosts, and their dog, Ina, adopted us while we were there. We were greeted with floral necklaces and a complementary cab ride, then taken to our bungalow, which could not be situated in a better place – it is right off of the main street! The room, kitchen, and bathroom were all fine – the terrace was great.  We spent so much time out there! Nicole and Jaime were available throughout the entire visit, made recommendations, and even shared some barbecue with us.  Can’t recommend highly enough.

Food

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+ Next to our bungalow, there was a smallish restaurant called Club Sandwich, which boasts a terrace and a small indoor counter.  It seems to be a primarily local-serving restaurant, but it. Is. Awesome.  If they’re busy, they will not seat you, you will need to seat yourselves, and service is leisurely, like all other things.  We also ordered takeout from here twice.  The portions are absolutely enormous, and incredibly fresh.  I ordered a chicken sandwich three times because it was so good!  The prices are reasonable, and the quality was great. We still talk about it from time to time!

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+ Out at Anakena Beach, there are a few huts that are open and operate off of generators.  On our last day with our rental car, we drove over there and left our cameras, phones, etc at our Airbnb.  We decided to stop by one of the little huts right as it opened – the one on the far left if you’re standing in the parking lot – and we ordered empanadas. They were some of the best food we had in Chile. They were hot, fresh, and steaming full of quality ingredients. We paired them with some local cocktails that were quite tasty as well. Definitely worth a stop!

+ We supplemented eating out by heading to the grocery store some of the time when we were on Easter Island to help save money – food is not cheap there.  The grocery stores were reasonable, and we were able to make the most of our kitchen.

Can’t Miss Sights, Tours, and Experiences

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+ Traditional Polynesian Dance Show! We went to Kari Kari and it was great. It was hot, it was packed, but it was so much fun to watch natives from Rapa Nui do traditional dance!

+ Let’s be clear: If you’re skipping the tour groups, you absolutely need to rent a vehicle to get into the park to see all of the historic sites.  They’re expensive, but they are totally worth it.

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+ Hike Rano Kau – I’m biased, because this beautiful caldera is where we got engaged, but the trek up the mountain and around the rim is stunning, quiet, and not very challenging.  Around the rim, you will find Orongo, a historic site that you cannot miss for its significance. Start early in the day to skip the sun.

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+ Tongariki – This is the iconic 14-moai monument and believe me when I say that photos don’t do them justice.  They are absolutely enormous, and absolutely breathtaking, as is their history.  We came once in full daylight, and once at sunrise, and I would gladly have come back again.

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+ Anakena Beach is, quite possibly, the best beach in the whole world. Legend has it that the Polynesian prince who discovered the island landed right here. White sand, warm water, and usually deserted (pictured above, busiest day of the year), this is worth a few hours of your time (with a tube of SPF 100).

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+ Rano Raraku is the quarry from which the moai were carved and, again, it is absolutely fascinating. We visited just after sunrise, and it was eerie watching the sun begin to light these monuments.

+ Easter Island is covered in moai, horses, and so much beauty.  There are monuments everywhere, and I can’t possibly describe them all, but they are all fantastic.

Overall

If you can find a way to get to Easter Island, please, do yourself a favor and go.  It is spellbinding in its beauty, and holds a warm spot in my heart. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that few get to enjoy, but more should partake in.

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