Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Easter Island Travel Guide | Part One

J.Crew shorts | Shirt (similar style here & here) | Sam Edelman sandals (must have!) | Longchamp purse | Everything But Water hat | Accessory Concierge necklace (comes in a set of three) | Zayver Designs bracelet and earrings 

I've been lucky enough since day one of starting this blog that I have such great support system from my family, friends, new followers, old followers, and of course, you! Recently, every time I met up with friends, they kept asking me, "When are you going to start incorporating travel into the blog?"

Travel has long been a passion of mine. My parents are big travelers, so I was fortunate enough that I was brought up traveling. I've mentioned travel now and then when I would update you with where I was off to, or how to pack for a vacation, but I had yet to do a 'travel guide,' or embark on a blog post that was solely focused on a trip. 

 To date, I've traveled to six of the seven continents - I still have to get Antarctica checked off my list. Africa has been my favorite thus far, and I am always itching to go on my next adventure. For the past few years, I had wanted to visit Easter Island. There was no specific reason why, other than the fact that I love history and love to visit new places. 

This past March I spent a week in Easter Island - the most remote, inhabited place in the world. The closest land mass (Tahiti on one side, Chile on the other) is over 2,000 miles away, which is roughly equivalent to a 4.5 hour long flight.  I flew direct (yes!) from Houston to Santiago, Chile, where we stayed for two days before heading to Easter Island. To say this journey was the trip of a lifetime wouldn't even do it justice.

When to Go
Easter Island is located in the southern hemisphere, which means the seasons are reversed. Since it is an island, the weather doesn't change that much from month to month, or season to season. Average low is 72, high is 82. Every month, the island gets about two inches of rain. The sun is intense, I mean INTENSE, and it can be misleading. That's because there is always a steady breeze of 12-15mph and up, everyday on the island, so the sun won't feel nearly as strong as it is. Case in point, the day we strolled around and explored the main village, Hanga Roa, my feet got sunburned even though I had SPF 50 on everywhere. 

Where to Stay
When we started planning for this trip, we used, Abercrombie & Kent, to make all our Easter Island travel arrangements for us. Not only are they experts in the travel industry, but they do all the organizing for you. 

There are several levels of accommodations on the island. The two best hotels are Hotel Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa and Explora. We stayed at the Hotel Hangaroa, which offered an all inclusive package, which included all of our meals and tours. The hotel was situated on the edge of Hanga Roa (the only small town in Easter Island), as was easy walking distance to shops, activities and some of the sites. The food at the hotel was out of this world, but that I'll save for another post. 
There are a handful of three star hotels such as Hotel Rapa NuiTaha Tai Hotel, and Hotel Orongo. As well as a few bed and breakfast places and also a campsite. 

Whatever your budget, I guarantee you won't go wrong with wherever you decide to stay - the people are part of what makes the trip, and they all are amazing. 

What to Do 
Don't let the word island fool you, this is not a leisurely trip where you lay on the beach drinking pina coladas. Before going, I was talking with my mom about how many books to bring, as I was sure we were going to have all this down time, and that frankly, we may get bored. That was so far from the truth. 

Easter Island has so much to see and do, your trip will be go, go go. 
The island is only 64 square miles,and the majority of  the activities you do are outdoors, and hiking to see the famed moai is a must. The hiking isn't that challenging, but it is constant and non-stop. Plus with the intensity of the sun mixed in, you'll be exhausted by the end of the day. Renting bikes and ATV's are also a popular way to see the island and its history on your own.

 Other activities include, surfing, scuba diving, seeing a typical Rapa Nui cultural show, and of course, shopping! Although is was sparse, the shopping was excellent. I found unique shell and coconut jewelry, as well as gorgeous wood carvings (what they're known for), and a great clutch and sundress. 

Note: We had four days of back to back all day tours and our legs were ready to give out by day five. Giving yourself one day to just explore on your own is a must. Most travelers on average visit the island for three nights, four days. From my experience, this is definitely not enough time to circumvent and see the whole island, let alone all the history and sites it has to offer. We were there for six wonderful days, and couldn't imagine having it any other way. If you're going to travel that far, why not enjoy it to the fullest? 

The Moai
The natives on the island, also known as the Rapa Nui, originally built the large statues to honor their deceased ancestors. There are over 900 of the giant stone figures, scattered throughout the island. The ones that I took photos with above, were 'modern moai' that were in the village, meaning they are not the famed ones you may be thinking of. A lot of the famous moai are almost unrecognizable due to deterioration or the fact that they have not been reconstructed. There are a handful of reconstructed moai placed on the alters they would have been originally, however. The moai were constructed out of volcanic ash, and on average weigh 20 tons and are over 20 feet tall. The largest recorded (which is one that never was finished) was 69 feet tall, weighing 270 tons!  

I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit about Easter Island with me! I will posting another travel guide or two with some more photos from my trip. Please let me know if there are any questions you may have! 

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