On Easter Island all of the following creatures can freely move around: humans, horses and dogs. As an addition, on Poike, the cows are free to wander around as well.
This is not a real danger, but when you're driving you should be ready to find a few horses in front of you after a bump on the road without any previous signs or notices. Just watch out!
During our visit to Easter Island we saw lots of (semi) wild horses on the island.
Is seems if everybody on the island has at least one horse. We saw people do some shopping on horses, little children riding without a saddle. But most of the horses we saw around the moai and in the inland.
The horses were introduced to Easter Island in 1866 and till today they survive in increasing numbers.
When we were driving around on our rental scooter we met a herd of horses on and along the road. Be aware you can meet this animals everywhere on the island, on the road and after a corner. It is a must to drive carefully (not only because the horses) !!!
One thing Julie and I found out in Easter Island is that the bank machines do not accept the "Plus" system, only Cirrus.
What we had to do was get a cash advance from our Visas. Though this gave us cash, the interest rates apply as soon as you borrow the money. Which of course is a bother.
The main places do take major credit cards, but of course the smaller joints and artisans do not. So make sure that if you don't have a debit card that is Cirrus compliant that you have sufficient amounts of hard currency when you leave Chile or Tahiti.
Easter Island is a tiny piece of land in the middle of a huge piece of water (the Pacific Ocean). The normal weather patterns we see in mainland countries just do not apply there as there is no land around to affect weather patterns.
Clouds and storms get blown in (and out) very quickly, and if you are in an elevated position, it can be pretty severe!
MAke sure you take wet weather gear, and something light but warm to pop on to. It may look lovely in the morning, but by the afternoon, things can be very different, and it can be a long way back to Hanga Roa to get more stuff. With the ridiculously low crime levels on Easter Island, just leave stuff in the back of your vehicle if you have one, there is almost no chance of anything being stolen.
The picture shows me stuck in the car in the middle of a cloud (I was at the highest point in the island at the time!). Note the emergency supply of wild guavas (see other tip) in the dashboard pocket!
If you have a mobile phone and want to use it on Easter Island, be aware that not only can it be tricky registering it on the network, but it is also difficult to get much network coverage anywhere outside of Hanga Roa. In other words if you get into trouble or your car breaks down, your mobile will probably be of little use to you.
Some parts of the island can be quite isolated and get very few visitors. If you do break down, I would advise walking to the nearest road and waiting for a passing car.
In many cases on Easter island, the caves are old lava tubes. They can therefore be extremely narrow inside, and you virtually have to crawl through them in places.
The entrances can also be very small and very hard to find as they are not marked in any way. The only clue you can get is to follow wheel tracks in the grass or just flattened patches of grass. Otherwise looked for a parked vehicle or tethered horses as some tours go by horse.
The entrance to the cave shown here is Dos Ventanas Cave (meaning two window cave). This was the only time we had a guide with us (in this case it is Bicky who we were also lodging with - See my accomodation tip). I don't think we would have found this entrance for ourselves.
Lao make sure you take at least one torch with fully charged batteries. It is pitch black at some points in these caves, and with the really narrow parts, you can do some pretty serious damage to your head (I say speaking from experience - even with a torch!)
There is only one town on the whole of Easter Island. This has a few restaurants and mini supermarkets, but this is the only place on the island that you can buy food and drink. The best advice I can give is to have a huge breakfast, go and buy enough drink and food to last the daylight hours, and then set out exploring. Otherwise you will either by thirsty and hungry all day, or finding yourself heading back to Hanga Roa in a hurry.
It takes longer than you think to get around Easter Island, and it is a very exposed island with a lot of wind, making it very dehydrating, so go prepared!
If you do get caught short, look out for the wild guavas. They grow on small trees around a lot of the roads. The golden coloured ones are the ripe ones. You eat them like an apple, with or without the skin on. They are quite juicy, but no match for a real meal.
In Hanga Roa, it appears that almost everyone has a dog. However almost without exception these dogs appear to virtually ignore humans (certainly in the hostile sense), unless you are with another animal (especially another dog), which is easier than it may sound. Some dogs adopt tourists and follow them around for hours (in a very friendly way), however other dogs then tend to be much more agressive, but only to the other dog.
On the roads, care needs to be taken even when right out in the middle of nowhere. You may suddenly find a few horses standing in the middle of the road. It appears people just let there horses roam freely all over the island, so take care around blind corners.
Take care not to step into any deposits left by horses or cows too, these litter the ground almost everywhere you go, even in the places you least expect.
As of September 2004, there is only one cash machine (ATM) on Easter Island, and it does not take Visa. It is possible to take money from the bank using your Visa card, but on the two occassions we did this it took 30 mins and 45 mins as it requires joining two different queues to get the money - the first to get an authorisation number, the second to get the cash. As there is also only one bank on the island, you can't take your custom elsewhere...
For the record, and as the photo shows, the ATM does take MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus
The Rapa Nui people are very honest. You don't have too worry too much about crime - the only crime we worried about was from other tourists! We rarely locked the car...which is something we ALWAYS do at home! Easter Island is very safe, however as with anywhere else in the world, I would beware of wandering around alone at night...especially around bars.
This might seem like a common-sense tip for most people...however my friend and I probably lacked good judgment when we went to Easter Island.
When we travel we usually carry minimal cash, no traveller's checks. We just use ATM machines to pay for our expenses along the way. Unfortunately this plan did not work here coz somehow the single ATM machine in the island does not accept VISA/Cirrus/Plus cards (even though the signs say it accepts Cirrus cards). Moreover, the bank is closed on weekends (and supposedly charge high exchange rates) and only few places accept credit cards. After spending all our cash, the only option left was to buy something from a store and have them charge us more in exchange for giving us cash-back. The good thing is the storeowner, who we made this request to, was very amiable to the idea. Oh well...don't go through all the hassle we went through and just bring money from the mainland!
We flew LanChile from Buenos Aires to Santiago to Easter Island. We were told that when changing planes in Santiago, we actually had to physically pick up our luggage, go out of the hall, and re-check it in. It was quite confusing. We then checked in the luggage and boarded our plane to Easter Island, but when we arrived, the luggage was missing.
I have dealt with missing luggage several times, as I am sure all travellers have. However, as we had to physically re-check the luggage, I was quite surprised that the luggage was lost. The thing with Easter Island is that there are only a couple of flights per week. So by the time our luggage arrived in Easter Island, we were already gone to Tahiti. And because we had to wait for the next flight coming from Easter Island to Tahiti, we had to wait in the end 1 week for our luggage. none of this is a disaster, especially being in a hot and tropical place, a pair of shorts and a tshirt will do.
Nonetheless, if you have to do the same in Santiago, I would highly recommend that you check to make sure your luggage has been checked to Easter Island and not some other odd destination...as otherwise it may be awhile before you see your luggage again.
There are very very few trees located on Easter Island, and there is no where to get shade. We were there in December and it was just so hot. Especially when we did walking like at the Rano Raraku volcano where the walking is strenuous and there is no shade, we felt exhuasted. Drink lots of water and be sure to wear sunscreen and wear a cap. I know this sounds like simple advice, but when you can find no shade, it makes sense.
when you hire a car they will give you a map of the island. on it they will indicate where you can go and where you can't go. take notice of this. the no-go zones are seriously dangerous - drive off a cliff you didn't see coming kind of dangerous.
Outside of the main town, there are very few places you can get fresh water. Make sure you take more than you think you will need - a couple of litres at least - whenever you head out for the day. It can get hot and dehydration coulped with over exposure to the sun will make your stay miserable.