As one of the Earth’s most isolated islands, Easter Island is one of the most exotic of tourist destinations and the main focus of any of the cruises to Easter Island available is of course the iconic statues which can be found there. The good news for those wishing to travel to this enigmatic destination in opulent style is that there are is a good choice of six star itineraries available, offered by a number of the world’s leading luxury cruise lines.
The destination of all cruises to Easter Island is the port of Hanga Roa, which is not surprising considering that this is the island’s only town. Eighty-seven per cent of the island’s population live here and when you consider that in 2002, there were just 3,304 people living on the whole island, it gives you an idea of how sparsely populated the place is. Interestingly, cruises to Easter Island are also cruises to Chile too, as despite being 2,300 miles from the Chilean capital of Santiago, Easter Island is a province of the country. Why? Well, for the most part of the last century, Easter Island was owed by a Chilean sheep farming company who closed it to the majority of its indigenous people, the Rapanui, with only 250 of them living in Hanga Roa. The island was finally re-opened for good in 1996 when its population were granted Chilean citizenship.
Cruises to Easter Island offer the opportunity to examine up-close some of the world’s most mysterious historical monuments, the Moai statues. Most of us are familiar with the iconic image of these mysterious monoliths gazing out inexorably from the coastline across the distant seas but perhaps not with the fact that there are 887 of them in total. But where did they come from? Well, they were in fact the work of the island’s first settlers who arrived from Polynesia, as far back in time as the fourth century. Easter Island must’ve looked like a real-life paradise for those settlers back then , as archaeological findings show that it was once rich in both lush plant life and much fauna to create a stable enough ecology to support them. Eternally grateful of their find, the contented islanders dedicated their own religion, giving thanks to their ancestors, and it’s believed that the statues were built as likenesses of those very ancestors. This hugely significant and sacred history is what makes Easter Island an UNESCO World Heritage Site and why cruises to Easter Island are such a popular choice. Some of the most convenient examples to see when visiting are Te Ata Hero and Te Peu, which can both be found in the port itself.
The question posed by many upon finding the statues was, ‘how were they built’? Well, those visiting on cruises to Easter Island can soon find out way if they set to exploring inland after arriving in port. The quarry at Rano Raraku is where all the stone came from that was used to build every statue and it’s fascinating to visit and imagine the place before the first stone was carved and the island’s historical impact changed forever. A number of volcanic caves dot the island, many which show evidence of habitation by the island’s settlers as well as craters, which are now water-filled and which have become scenic lakes. Anakena, meanwhile, is the place to head if you want to catch a little sun while on the island, as it’s the favourite beach for locals and visitors alike.
By Simon Brotherton