Touring Rapa Nui

Ahu Tongariki: The island’s thousands of roaming horses are generally discouraged from grazing on ahu.

The sun sets behind the Ahu Vai Uri at Tahai. The stars and the Milky Way are clearly visible overhead after dark.

The moa at Ahu Tongariki cast long shadows at sunrise that point to Rano Raraku, the volcano they were carved from.

Below a long extinct volcano are carved topknots at Puna Pau (bottom right.)

The moai of Rapa Nui were carved from the stone at Rano Raraku where there are moai long-abandoned in various stages of production.

These moai at Anakena stand with their backs to the island’s only white sandy beach which was likely the landing site of the first Polynesian settlers.

In the original Birdman Competition competitors would scale down the side of Rano Kau and swim across the ocean to the island seen here, Motu Nui, and bring back the first Sooty Tern egg laid of the year. The winner’s chief would become the ruler of the

The Birdman Competition is still practiced every late January/early February during the Tapati Rapa Nui festival. It now takes place in the crater of Rano Raraku, and the eggs of the Sooty Tern are generally safe in their nests.

A rainbow behind Ahu Akivi, whose moai are aligned with the rising sun on the spring and autumn equinoxes.

A member of the BCBusiness team shares photos from her recent trip to Easter Island

The island, which officially belongs to Chile, was christened “Easter Island” on Easter Sunday, 1722, by Dutch sea captain Jacob Roggeveen, although it’s increasingly referred to by its native name, Rapa Nui. It languished in obscurity before Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl documented his excavations there in his best-selling 1957 memoir, Aku-Aku. The haunting, 165-square-kilometre volcanic island with a modest population of 5,000 attracts an estimated 75,000 Chileans and foreign tourists annually. Fifteen cruise-ship visits a year also help to fill hotels, whose capacity is a humble 1,000 beds a night.

Rapa Nui is most famous for its impassive stone statues, known as moai, but the island also has abundant hiking, caving and snorkelling. Once virtually a desert due to deforestation and sheep-herding, the island is ripe with guava trees and tall grass, but today is once again threatened by environmental and social pressures brought by increasing tourism, its economic mainstay.