The best places of Easter Island
Friday, July 31, 2009
Isla de Pascua (Photo:Turismo Chile)
- Not to be missed in Easter Island
- Easter Island
Hanga Roa: The town of Hanga Roa brings tourists and the native islanders together. Here one hears the Easter Islanders’ language just as frequently as English or Spanish. It is a peaceful locality that serves as port and residence to 90% of the island’s population (a littler under 5000 people), and that offers all the basic services required for a comfortable stay.
It is situated on the island’s western side, and its main street, Avenida Atamu Tekena (named after a local hero), bears north to south. This is the center of the city, where there are many stores, hotels, restaurants, the only supermarket on the island, and the pharmacy. The public administration buildings and the rest of the commercial district are found along the intersection of Avenida Atamu Tekena and Te Pito Te Henua.
To the north of the city, in the Tahai district, you will find the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum (Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert, or MAPSE). Here is where information on Easter Island’s heritage and its indigenous people is compiled, preserved and studied. MAPSE’s aim is to act as the custodian of specialized bibliographical and archaeological collections.
Another Highlight is Caleta Hanga Piko, the main port and fisherman’s cove. In this same sector Ahu Riata is found, an archeological complex that was restored in 1998 and that is illuminated at night, asa sea turtles range the seaside in search of food. The fresh tuna fish is caught here that you can easily savor in the island’s typical tuna empanadas.
You can’t miss a stroll through the handicrafts market to buy seashell necklaces or the mythological figures of rich Easter Island traditions carved in wood. The local church is also an attraction when mass is held with a choir singing Easter Island chants, and where you can view religious figures that are a mixture of the symbols of traditional Christianity and the islanders' own.
Orongo: One of the island’s most traditional sites, from its beaches the traditional tournament takes place to choose Tangata Manu, the Bird Man. For two centuries this was the highest honor that a Rapa Nui islander could aspire to, which required swimming to an enormous nearby rock called Motu. This promontory of sandstone-basalt was where Manutara or the sacred bird would lay its first egg, and whoever brought it back intact received the highest honors.
Orongo Village has been reconstructed and is an architectural complex of stone built over the site where the aspirants to Tangata Manu would wait. The Mata Ngarahu area is one of its main features, featuring hundreds of petroglyphs representing such figures as Tangata Manu (the Bird Man), Make-Make (God), Komari (Vulva, symbol of fertility), among others.