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Isolation, Adventure and Unique Sights
The Easter Island is one of the most isolated inhabited islands on earth and steeped in mystery and myth. It was originally called ‘Te Pito O Te Henua’ which means ‘Navel of the World’ before the Spanish named it Isla de Pascua and the Polynesians called it Rapa Nui. A Dutch explorer was the first European to discover the island on an Easter Sunday in 1722, hence the better known English name: Easter Island.
Stuff legends are made of
The island is perhaps best known for its enormous and enigmatic stone statues, built hundreds of years ago by an isolated tribe. According to legend these early inhabitants who populated the Easter Island were from around Taiwan, and left their home because it was being swallowed by the ocean. The Easter Island lies far off in the Pacific Ocean and is officially considered as a territory of Chile. Although it is very accessible by air from Tahiti or Chile (albeit expensive), sailing there is not that simple.
Only for the adventurous
There is no doubt that the Easter Island is one of the most interesting exotic destinations on earth. The brisk trade winds guarantee exciting times on the water approaching the Easter Island. Sailors are advised to make sure their equipment and yachts are in tip-top shape before setting off. It takes around a month to get to the island from Chile. Bad weather and rough seas may extend sailing times and can also result in sailors having to regularly move between anchorages. Upon arrival the officials have to be contacted over VHF Channel 16; the person on duty will handle clearance and give vital advice on anchorage.
Once trials of sailing and anchoring are dealt with, the island is simply breathtaking. The massive statues are called Moai and are even more spectacular up close than in photographs. Besides the Moai, there are several other noteworthy attractions like:
• ‘Umu ta’o – On every religious holiday the locals have what is called ‘umu ta’o. It is event in which traditional food is cooked underground and given away for free.
• Rapa Nui National Park – As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the park is well worth a visit for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
• Hiking – There are several hikes available and a tour guide will point out hidden caves and unique archaeology.
Even with the stormy seas and treacherous conditions it is an absolute thrill to visit Easter Island and well worth the effort.