Surfing on Easter Island has gained a significant reputation within the surfing fraternity and over the past few years the infrastructure for surfers has improved. Beginners will enjoy the moderate swells just out from Hanga Roa Harbour and Playa Pea, but much of the rest of the islands other prime surf spots are for experienced surfers only. Apart from Playa Pea, there are no beach breaks on the island with reef breaks the only class of break. This makes access and exit to the water difficult and most of the ‘best’ locations are outright dangerous. There is no protecting outer reef and many of the swells crash into the cliffs. You really need to know what you’re doing and surfing alone is a big no-no. There is a growing surf community on the island who can advise you on the best spots according to your ability and rental businesses are beginning to sprout up around Hanga Roa.
Snorkelling trips can be arranged through the dive centres for those wanting to take a peek at what lurks under the waters of Rapa Nui but either don’t want or haven’t been qualified to scuba dive. The most popular spots are in and around the waters of the three motus, Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao but you will have to arrange this through a company as these locations involve a boat ride to access them. Off beach snorkelling is disappointing and snorkelling from other locations around the island is dangerous due to currents, swells and powerful waves. The cheapest company is the newly founded Atariki Rapa Nui in Caleta Hanga Piko but trips can be arranged through private charter or through the other more established companies, Orca Dive Centre and Mike Rapu both located on the pier in Hanga Roa.
Contrary to most people’s image of a South Pacific island, Rapa Nui isn’t overly blessed with your typical white sand paradise beaches. Those who tend to visit Easter Island aren’t just interested in lazing on the beach all day! However, if you do need a place to relax after all that sight seeing or have a desire to swim, the island does have three good spots for a dip. Playa Pea is a convenient, if tiny, beach near the harbour in Hanga Roa, Playa Ovahe is a secluded and beautiful beach on the northern coast and the pick of the bunch and most popular beach at Anakena, also on the northern coast. There are facilities at Anakena and small snack bars to grab a bite to eat.
Be warned that swimming anywhere else on the island can be extremely dangerous, with powerful reef breaks and strong swells battering the coastline. There are also the added unpleasantness of poisonous sea urchins sharp coral and stones.
You haven't seen Easter Island until you have seen it from beneath! The crystal blue waters off Rapa Nui offer some of the clearest and least polluted diving conditions in the world. Having only qualified to dive in late 2009, we haven't a huge amount of scuba experience but have
to say that our dive in Easter Island was our most memorable so far. What the water lacks in the abundant sea life of say, Thailand or Indonesia, it more than makes up for with its crystal clear visibility, unpolluted water, stunning geological formations and the added bonus of a coral encrusted anchor and underwater moai. Very surreal feeling to see one of these stone giants lying on the sea bed. However, don't get too excited, this moai isn't an original and is just a replica of a real moai which does lie on the ocean floor but is too deep for casual divers to access. Although not overly populated with sea life, there is still a sizeable variety of fish and because of its isolated nature Easter Island has populations of fish you won’t see anywhere else. Around 25% of the fish around Easter Island are endemic to the island. Some varieties of fish you can expect to see include blowfish, the trumpet fish, the butterfly fish, the porcupine fish and the Mediterranean moray, as well as turtles.
There are a variety of dive sites around the island. Generally speaking, the best dive sites are around the three motus off the south west corner…Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao. The dives around the motus are catogorised as wall dives and the largest variety of fish, and the clearest waters (visibility is often 50 metres) are found here. However, due to strong currents and powerful swells, diving here can be hazardous and is only recommended for experienced divers holding at least the Advanced Open Water. There are also a number of cave dives available, most notable around Motu Tautara. For Open Water certified divers there are a number of less challenging but rewarding dive sites closer to Hanga Roa harbour. These dives are reef dives and have a good variety of fish, clear water and fine coral gardens as well as a sunken moai and anchor.
Up until recently there were two reputable dive companies on the island, Orca Diving Centre and Mike Rapu Dive Cente, However we did notice another dive centre, Atariki Rapa Nui, in Caleta Hanga Piko which seemed to have just opened for business. Haven’t heard anything about them so can’t vouch for them for diving although I did meet a few people who had gone on a snorkelling trip with them and they had an enjoyable and safe trip. They also said the trip was much cheaper than similar trips offered by the more established centres in Caleta Hanga Roa.
We went diving with Orca Dive Centre and were impressed with the level of safety, standard of equipment and general professionalism of the company. Would recommend, especially for beginners like us who were made feel welcome unlike Mike Rapu dive centre, which we felt catered only for experienced divers. Maybe it was just the particular person in charge that day but we felt that they weren’t welcoming to beginners. How are you meant to build up your experience if dive companies won’t take you out…ridiculaous. They said that the dive sites were too difficult for Open Water Divers. Have to say the dive site in Hanga Roa Harbour was the least difficult dive that I have done. It’s easy to see why Orca Dive centre is so busy while Mike Rapu Centre was virtually deserted.
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Traditionally, horses were the islanders main mode of transport and this custom is still very much apparent to any visitor to Easter Island. Many local lads still get around the island on horseback and while strange at first, you soon get used to the sight of Rapa Nui locals riding bareback along the streets of Hanga Roa and of horses tied up outside the shops and market.
Visitors can also get in on the act with many places offering horseback riding around the island. Half day, full day and even overnight excursions can be organised and give visitors the chance to explore the more isolated parts of the island such as the Poike Peninsula. There are a variety of operators on the island offering horseback riding with Piti Pont being the most recommended tel.
Walking/Hiking around the island is another great way to explore and discover the sites. With the island being so small, you really can cover the whole island on foot although to reach all the sites on foot you will need multiple days. Better to mix and match between walking, taking a tour and maybe renting a scooter. There are several interesting hikes around the island, with the most popular being the hike from Hanga Roa up to the ceremonial village at Orongo and the climb up Terevaka. A longer and more rugged hike takes you all the way around the northern point of the island from Tahai to Anakena Beach which takes you past some secluded ahu sites, caves and rock art carvings. Best of all is the refreshing dip awaiting you at beautiful Anakena Beach!
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Watching football (soccer)
Hanga Roa is small and the only town on Easter Island. The soccer/footballfield is near the pier at the harbour. There is also a small beach for swimming and you will find many surfers. In the weekend there are a few matches. You will then see many young locals around following those matches.
Diving - Mike Rapu Diving Centre
While we were on Easter Island my husband, Christian, was thinking about going diving for the first time. We went to Mike Rapu Diving Centre to check it out. They offered PADI dive courses for beginners as well as advanced dives for qualified people. In the end Christian decided not to go diving due to our limited time availability.
There are submerged moai that they can take dive groups to but a beginner would not be able to do this dive.
Equipment: This would be provided by the dive centre.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
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A fun sport to try on Easter Island is Horse Riding. Rumor has it that the horses outnumber the people on the island 3 to 1. There is about 3,000 people on the island. Simple math says that equals about 9,000 horses. I am not sure if these figures are fully correct but that is the urban legend here. Perhaps this island should be called The Island of Horses as horses seem to dominate this landscape.
Equipment: Equipment will be provided by the local renting you the horses.Related to:
- Horse Riding
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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Renting a Surfboard in Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Surfing is a unique sport that combines intensity with relaxation and requires a good deal of practice to master. The waves on Easter Island provide a good place to surf. Hanga Roa has the best break on the island. Right out in front of the center of town in Hanga Roa an awesome point break can be found. The day I went out in mid-september, waves were braking overhead in sets of 5-6 with an occasional 7 footer and one 9 footer. There were only a handful of people surfing these beautiful waves that extended a hundred yards out into the sea. The pipe was soft, forgiving, and did not plow me in too hard into the water which was nice. It also made for a soft relaxing finish. For people with or without surfing experience, this place is a must see as the scenery around is classic. Moai's (stone head statues) litter the shorelines while a select few surfers get to ride by and are treated to awesome views and great surf. Most days deliver an spectacular sunset where the lemon sun seems to sink into the sea.
Equipment: Go rent a surfboard at Hanga Roa Harbor. It cost me $20 for the day, including the wetsuit.Related to:
- Water Sports
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Easter Island Marathon & Triathlon
The triathlon on Friday 6/8/07 is a sprint triathlon, with a 500 mtr ocean swim, 15K road bike and 5K run (distances approximate). All events are in Hanga Roa.
The next day is a 35K Mountain bike race. Start and finish is in Hanga Roa with the trail going up toward the Rano Kau volcano and then through the SW portion of the island.
The marathon, 1/2 marathon and 10K is on Sunday. Start and finish is in Hanga Roa and runs along the middle road to Anakena beach and back. Rolling hills
Equipment: The events are for fun so don't think about bringing your bike. You can rent a bike in tone, although they have only well worn mountain bikes. Bring your helmet for safety.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Rent a mountain bike
Easter Island has some pretty challenging terrain. Renting a mountain bike costs about 10 USD per day and it is possible to cycle around the island in a day (a long day!). Be careful however as there is nowhere to buy food or water outside of Hanga Roa. Also some parts of the island are very isolated, so it is better to not try and do it alone. This is also relevant as mobile phones only tend to work around Hanga Roa.
Equipment: A good sun hat, sun tan lotion and plenty to eat and drink.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Football on Easter Island
OK, so you aren't going to go all the way to Easter Island to see a Football match (and to be honest the quality of the football is worse than some of the schoolboys football I have seen on the local park). But it is quite atmospheric to watch a game of football with a Moai in the background and the wind coming in off the sea. Again it is a good place to meet people, and the islanders are incredibly friendly.Related to:
- National/State Park
Surfing and Diving
Surfing in Easter Island it's maybe, the most incredible experience. The waves, the nature and the mystic, gives you and unforgettable memorie.
For diving. If you know something about this sport, you must know too, that Easter Island it's maybe one of the most spectaculars place to go.
Equipment: For surfing, only your board.
For diving, you can lease all te equipment.
Easter Island Hotels
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