going > rapa nui part 1: the moai

Back on the travel train.

After a fall from fancy that resulted in 3 hours wasted at the Tahiti airport, a flight delayed for 18 hours, and a meh hotel outside of Papeete courtesy of LAN Chile we were finally on our way to Easter Island aka Isla de Pascua aka Rapa Nui. From here on out we’re calling this place Rapa Nui because that’s what the locals call it. It’s actually the name of the place, the people, and the language – nice, right?

a print of the island hanging in our room

a print of the island hanging in our room

There is ONE flight a week from Tahiti to Rapa Nui. As of the writing of this post it’s a super early Tuesday morning flight just after midnight that takes roughly 5 hours. To catch this flight you’ll need to leave Bora Bora on Monday early evening.

We signed up for a private tour with Easter Island Traveling prior to heading on our trip. We picked the Megalith tour which runs USD160 per person for a full day. Easter Island Traveling is run by Marcus, a Swede who fell in love with a local, learned Rapa Nui, and has made a home for himself on the island.


not what you expected, eh?

The tour starts bright and early at 9:30am (sidebar: this legit feels super early because the sun rises really late here) and our first stop is at a site where the moai have not been restored. They’re still face down in the ground and look unrecognizable to the untrained tourist eye.


the occassional downpour was a nice touch

We did some hopping around the coastline which looks more like the surface of Mars than anything else due to the lava rocks.


look at the profile!

Every time I show this picture to people it takes awhile for them to see the face. And then BAM you realize you’re right up next to a moai. This one is also not restored and is on its back. I like the shot with the jeep in the background – looks like a car ad.


so awesome.

The peak of the tour is the quarry, Rano Raraku. Here is where many moai were either in the process of being made/transported or were abandoned. It’s really an amazing sight to see. I took probably a million #moaiselfies here because I have no shame.


can you see the faint double rainbow?

We also got some rainbow action.


my absolute favorite

My favorite stop was Ahu Tongariki with 15 moai set up at a site you can see from the quarry. They’re all a little bit different but seeing so many of them is a little bit like being starstruck.

We ended our day with a late lunch at Anakena Beach.

the view at lunch

the view at lunch

Can you see another row of moai to the right? Marcus wrapped up the day by sharing another Rapa Nui song right on the beach. Couldn’t have ended the day on a better note!


Bonus: failed jumping shot of Marcus and I. Oops, where’s my face? He has great jumping form. The cut off face is perfect for the blog though!

Bonus fun fact about Marcus: he and his wife were on House Hunters International!

We had such a great time that we booked Marcus again for the next day and his Birdman Tour. If you’re visiting Rapa Nui, we can’t recommend him enough – super nice, knowledgeable, has great stories (personal favorite: shipwrecked Swedes), loves his family and his adopted island, and so respectful for the place and people. He’s also a big ol’ tech geek which works out a-ok for Silicon Valley types.


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