Rano Kau Crater
When visitors travel to Easter Island they are naturally anxious to see all of the amazing moai monoliths. The carved volcanic figures are indeed magnificent, but be sure to save time to see the natural beauty of the island also. The Rano Kao Crater is the largest volcanic crater on Easter Island, and the most beautiful. You can easily hike to this spot and enjoy the amazing views both in and out of the crater. The best time to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site (Rapa Nui National Park) is early morning or late afternoon, when the colors are at their best.
By David Netzer
Appreciating archaeology on an Easter Island cruise
A visit to Chile’s Easter Island undoubtedly will inspire you to ask the same questions archaeologists have asked for years. Who built the head-shaped monoliths (a.k.a., the Moai) that line the island, and why? (Archaeologists believe Polynesians carved the heads.) Most of the cruise ships that stop at this anchorage port bring in researchers to chat with guests about the island’s most famous “inhabitants,” and these programs almost always provide a good foundation for a trip ashore. Perhaps the best of the bunch: National Geographic Expeditions. Technically, you don’t have to see the Moai; though most cruise ships give passengers the option of touring Rapa Nui National Park and Raro Raraku (where most of the Moai have been carved), cruise passengers also have the option to explore the shops and restaurants in the island’s main town, Hanga Roa. Other potential sights to see: the Tahai Archaeological Complex, where excavations are ongoing, and Mauna Terevaka, the highest peak on the island.
By Matt Villano, AFAR Local Expert
Easter Island, Valparaiso Region, Chile
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