This post continues a series on a 6 day trip to Easter Island in March of 2018. For this series I’ve divided the posts by area of the island and archaeological site rather than chronologically as we visited the top sites more than once. See the Easter Island page for an outline of all the posts in this series and our complete day by day itinerary.
To organize our independent tour of the island we used A Companion Guide to Easter Island which is a great resource for both archaeological information and photography tips including best time of day to visit the sites. We did find that they are tightening restrictions on visiting the sites, e.g., enforced visiting hours and strict limitations on where you are allowed to walk within the sites, making some routes suggested in the guidebook inaccessible.
North Coast Walk
The long walk along the cliffs of the northwest corner of the island, highly recommended in the guidebook for its stunning views and unspoiled landscape, starts at Ahu Tepeu (just past Ahu Akivi in the center of the island) and continues around to Anakena Beach. In order to do this as a one way hike you would need a guide or arrange other transportation from Anakena Beach back to town, so we did two separate out and back hikes – one starting at Anu Tepeu and heading north and the second, on the following morning, starting at Anakena Beach and heading west. There is no real trail to follow along this coast and sites are not marked so we don’t know exactly how far we walked.
We left the cabañas just before sunrise to take advantage of as much of the cool hours as possible. Although my heart was at the Ahu Tongariki, anxious to see what kind of sunrise we would have this morning, I really wanted to get some hiking in during the only cool hours of the day.
Ana Te Pahu Cave Site
Along the road to Ahu Tepeu you pass the Ana Te Pahu cave site. They now have the road blocked off a good 10-15 minute walk from the caves and then it’s another 20 minutes to Ahu Tepeu. Although we arrived before the posted opening hours we opened the roped gate to the road and walked in. It didn’t seem to be a problem.
We got to the cave just before 9:00. There was enough light to tour most of this lava tube but a head lamp is a good idea for the darker corners.
The site illustrates how the locals would have used this cave for living. It’s open to the sky in places where they grew bananas and did the cooking.
The guide book calls this place a hidden gem. Whether you will agree probably depends how burnt out you are on ahu ruins.
Set close to the cliffs overlooking the sea to the west it boasts a stunning setting, especially in the early morning when the sun is just coming over the hills to the east.
The remains of the boathouses are impressive for their size, the largest ones found on the island.
The back wall of the platform is still intact and shows the interlocking stone technique used, something like at Vinapú, but the platform wall faces west and is in shadow until afternoon.
There is also an interesting moai head lying next to the platform which would be lit closer to mid-morning.
Walk Along the Northwest Coast
From Ahu Tepeu walk along the coast heading north. There is no real marked trail, just follow the coastline north. The way is very rocky in places, but you can’t get lost.
At this time of morning it was very pleasant walking along the bluffs overlooking the sea and rocky coast. Though in the early morning the turbulent coastline below is cast in shadow. Views were better on the way back.
Horses and cows graze in the pasture land. The light breeze at our back on the way out turned into a stiffer wind on our return but remained pleasant as the day heated up.
We went as far and the first two ruin sites that we noticed. As sites are not marked we were not sure which ones they were.
The first one had an intact small moai face up.
At the second there was a mostly intact platform back wall, but only smaller pieces of moai and not the large moai mentioned in the book that is supposed to be at Vai Matá. We walked for about 1.5 hours at leisurely pace from Ahu Tepeu, stopping to snap photos and so forth. The return took us an hour back to Ahu Tepeu and another 35 minutes back to the car.
Walk from Anakena Beach to Hanga O’teo Bay
The guidebook’s author, James Grant-Peterkin, mentions that Hango O’teo is his favorite spot on the island. He doesn’t say why but looking for a destination on the north coast of the island we decided to check it out.
From the northwest side of the Anakena Beach we followed the road out continuing along the northwest coast. You can either follow the road to the bay, although parts of it are a bit sketchy, or you can keep closer to the coast following various short trails and bushwhacking in-between.
We followed the coast out and the road back. This section of the coastline isn’t as pretty as being on the bluffs the previous morning. It’s not as grassy and there aren’t the cliffs looming over the rocky coast. Still, it’s a pleasant rocky coastline walk.
We passed a couple of ahu, with remnants of boathouses and moai.
You can see the bay from a distance as the point along the shore sticks out and there is there is a caldera above it. There’s a building in the center of the caldera, but we didn’t go that far.
Instead we found a great picnic spot overlooking the bay with the sun behind us.
We didn’t see a soul until we returned to Anakena Beach. It took us 1.5 hours there and 70 minutes on the return by the road at a leisurely pace.