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Easter Island Dreaming

With Easter just around the corner it would be rude not to mention it. Easter is a time where a lot of people take a quick break, personally I would advise against travelling at this time. (Or any time in the school holidays if you can avoid it.) I went to Rome one Easter it was packed, very bad planning on my part, I failed to make the connection with the religious festival and location, I was 18 and foolish. This week’s blog is a bit of a tenuous link to the celebration of Easter, the only association is in the name. I would like to introduce Easter Island; one of the remotest places on the planet.

Easter Island known as Rapa Nui, was given its European name back in the 1700’s when it was ‘discovered’ by a Dutch explorer who came across the island (you guessed it) on Easter Sunday. European colonisers were severely lacking in imagination when it came to naming ‘new’ places. Its European name may be unimaginative, but the island itself is happily the opposite. Rapa Nui is a tiny speck of an isle located in the southeast Pacific it is beautifully remote (the closest inhabited island is over 1000 miles away) and in 1995 was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before European explorers pitched up, the island was inhabited by a Polynesian civilization for over 1000 years. And it is their legacy that makes the island so unique. The place is an archaeologist’s dream; the island is bursting with history and relics of a by-gone age. The most iconic of all the monuments are the ‘moai’ which are ancient stone heads dotted around the landscape. Around 75,000 tourists visit Rapa Nui each year to gaze in awe at these wonders. These magnificent stone creations are the symbol of Easter Island, but there is so much more on offer.

In addition to being historically rich the island is known for its pristine beaches and tropical climate. The best time to visit is January and February where the temperature averages around 27 degrees, the sky is blue and there isn’t a cloud to be seen. The laid back lifestyle that naturally comes with island life is also what attracts visitors, along with inactive volcanoes, crater lakes, temple ruins and great surfing conditions. Add great hiking, caves to explore, delicious fresh seafood and scuba diving in crystal clear waters and you are on to a winner. If you are interested in cultural heritage every February the Tapati festival celebrates the island’s unique culture with sports, spear throwing and statue carving. If all this isn’t enough to whet your appetite the stargazing alone is worth the trip. Easter may not be the best time to travel (in my opinion) but Easter Island is certainly worth travelling to.