Easter Island is a little piece of land, far from any continent or archipelago (Chile and Tahiti are about 2,500 miles away), that would have been impossible to reach without the invention of caravels. The island was discovered by the Europeans when a Dutch ship came into port in the 17th century. Its history is fiercely disputed by historians who cannot agree on the original dates the island was first inhabited, or when the legendary Moais (statues representing divine ancestors) were built. Today, like the Egyptian pyramids, Pascuan statues have been restored, though they still remain shrouded in myth. Travel to Easter Island isn't very direct, but it's without a doubt a unique experience.
Surface area : 166.0 km2
Population : 3790 inhabitants
Sculptures in wood or stone and miniature replicas of the island's statues, are some of the souvenirs in great demand. There is also local made cloth, seashell necklaces and obsidian jewellery. The best places for handiwork are the central market of Hanga Roa, located on avenida Tu'u Maheke, and the local art market, next to Iglesia Catolica. Shops are open during the week, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
The local food is inspired by Chilean cuisine with various fish and seafood dishes. Conger, sea perch, swordfish and stockfish are served grilled or fried. Shellfish (sea urchins, crabs, clams) are served plain or in a bouillabaisse. Also try some typical dishes such as cazuela (chicken and corn soup), ajiaco (spiced beef stew) and choclo pastel (chopped meat with onions and dry raisins grilled in the oven). Tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro flavour salads and sandwiches. The best-known Chilean wines are available. There is also beer and pisco, a grape liqueur that is transformed in pisco when you add lemon and sugar.
Bargaining is common practice on local markets, but it is to be done discreetly. First go to handicraft shops to get an idea of prices, and take into account the quality of the items before suggesting a price. Make sure to ask for a just price for objects, not forgetting that they often require hard work to make.
In order to see the numerous archaeological remains, it is a good idea to start by taking a guided tour. In a day, you will have seen a good glimpse of different sites, and then you will be able to come back and see the ones that you like best on your own. Hotels will fill you in with information on reliable guides. Try to attend the dominical mass at Iglesia Catolica in Hanga Roa. Although it is close to the liturgy, the religion mixes words in Rapa nui and in Spanish, but best of all, offers the opportunity to hear gospels that sing traditional songs of the island.