Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

A Trip Back in Time to Rapa Nui

There are few places that I never really imagined I would make it to in my lifetime, but Easter Island was one of them. Before deciding to go to Chile, I never fully knew where Easter Island even was, just that it was an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Little did I know that in a few short months I would be taking one of the most memorable trips of my life.

At only 13 miles, Easter Island is a tiny speck of land lost in the middle of the Pacific Island. Also known as Rapa Nui, the island was home to 20,000 Polynesian indigenous peoples until explorers reached the island. The current population is just above 3,000 people mostly of indigenous descent. The island’s economy is mostly based on tourism, although this hasn’t seemed to have changed much of the culture.

After a 5.5 hour flight from Santiago to the most remote airport in the world on one of the most remote islands in the world, I (with three friends) stepped out of the plane to a much-needed sunny day and a warm breeze. We stayed for five nights total, in a small hostel right on the water. The first day we took a tour that covered the highlights of the main island and offered a great background of the history and current state of Rapa Nui. The second day we went to Anakena Beach, one of the two sandy beaches on the island. The third day we hiked to a volcano crater from our hostel, in the rain, and visited a ceremonial village. The fourth, and final full day, we hiked the tallest volcano on the island (not that tall, at about 550M), and explored some banana caves.

All in all, the experience was so much more than I had hoped for. The many Moai statues scatter throughout the island were the main attraction, and they are truly something to marvel at, but there is so much more to do and see on the island as well. Maybe it was just the change of pace- from large, bustling city to a small, sleepy island- but Rapa Nui truly seemed like a magical place. Everything was simpler, more relaxed, and more fulfilling. Rapa Nui may be out of the way, but it couldn’t be more worth it.

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