Moai at Sunrise on Easter Island

I received a sweet new GoPro for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) so I took it with us to Easter Island and used my spankin’ new mini tripod to take a video of the Moai at sunrise at Ahu Tongariki, just one of the numerous sites where Moai can be found on the island.  I’m the opposite of a morning person – you’ll never catch me up before the sun unless it’s for a flight or an important event – but this was one of the items on my bucket list when we booked our trip to Easter Island, so I dragged my sleepy butt out of bed for this at five-something in the morning, praying I wouldn’t regret it.

We arrived at Ahu Tongariki in the pitch blackness and used our iPhone flashlights to guide our way down the hill from the small parking lot, over the grassy field with scattered rocks here and there, and perched on one of the larger half-submerged boulders in the field. We waited there, whispering in the dark, facing the sea and listening to the waves crash. Then suddenly, the sky began to lighten, almost imperceptibly, then faster and the Moai emerged from the darkness, almost like ghosts from the sea. It was nearly spiritual.

At first I was a little peeved by the tourist laying around in the frame and posing for photos, but I have to admit now – it’s pretty hilarious.

It’s a shame that it wasn’t a more clear day, but as you can see, it is still pretty magnificent. It was definitely one of those moments that makes you sit and marvel at the world – how lucky we were to be here at this moment to see this and wonder how many people have seen this before, what they were doing at the time, what it meant to them, and who will see it in the future?  It’s one of those things that I think I’ll always remember. At least, I hope so.

Read more about our time on Easter Island here.

48 Hours on Easter Island

48 Hours on Easter Island

Easter Island. Rapa Nui. Isla de Pascua. Whatever you call it, it is a mysterious gem in the middle of the south Pacific Ocean. I mean it’s really in the middle of nowhere, with being about 3,756 km (2,340 miles) to Santiago, Chile and 4,231 km (2,646 miles) to Tahiti and 1,922km from Pitcairn Island, the closest inhabited place to it. Fun fact: Pitcairn is trying to recruit new residents since the population has dipped so low – as in, to 45 people –  in the past few years – read more on that here:  http://www.immigration.gov.pn/

Here’s what I knew about Easter Island before we went there:

1) there’s Moai there (the big stone heads)

2) it’s technically part of Chile, and

3) …Ok…that’s about all I knew.

Moai of Easter Island

The Moai at Ahu Tongariki

So why go? Seeing those big, beautiful stone dudes was on my bucket list. And Easter Island is pretty expensive to get to if you’re traveling around South America as a student or a poor, newly-employed attorney. It was more expensive to go there for a weekend than to go to Rio de Janeiro for a week. So, let’s just say it was on the list but wasn’t do-able until my friends and I started seriously talking about a South America trip this year.

First – how does one get to Easter Island?

You fly, obviously. But, not so obvious is the complete lack of variety when it comes to airlines and direct flights. You basically need to fly on LAN and fly from either Santiago, Chile or from Tahiti. There’s one flight a day, in the morning around 11am. And that’s it. You miss it, you wait until the next day. So when our flight departing New York’s JFK was late in leaving (because – get this- the plane was on the other side of the airport and took an hour and a half to DRIVE TO THE GATE), we knew we were going to be cutting it close and our 2.5 hour layover in Santiago was shrinking.

Pro-Tip #1: arrive in Santiago the night before your flight to Easter Island, or leave at least a 4-hour window between your connection’s arrival at the airport and your scheduled departure.

Easter Island

The arrivals gate at the airport

We nearly missed the flight, and after some begging/pleading/nearly crying to the LAN employees at Santiago airport, we made our connection. I don’t recommend starting your vacation that way. I’m typically probably way too nice to airline personnel, but this was a moment where I almost truly lost it. Mainly because we were promised by the flight attendants and the desk staff in New York that we’d make our connection without a problem, even with the delay. So give yourself a good cushion!

So the plane you take to Easter Island is a jumbo jet – a 787- for some reason, I was thinking that there would only be a small plane since it seems like a semi-unpopular destination. Continue reading