Standing out on the Southwest side of Easter Island is Hanga Roa Easter, a tiny harbour town and the capital of Easter Island, a Chilean territory. The village of Hanga Roa is surrounded on both sides by extinct volcanoes – Terevaka and Rano Kau. About 4500 people, mostly of Polynesian descent, embrace this village and make this tangle of streets, their adobe. Very few of them live outside the village as most of the Rapa Nui territory is State-owned. For a large part of the 20th century, the island was leased to Williamson-Balfour Company.
The island’s two main roads intersect at Hanga Roa just close to the small plaza located besides the ocean. The main street Avenida Atamu Tekena (also known as Avenida Policarpo Toro) is the epicenter of Hanga Roa town. Many tourist-friendly stores, restaurants, hotels and the sole supermarket on the island and pharmacy are found on the wayside. Avenida Te Pito o Te Henua starts near the fishing pier and goes all the way to the church. Only two commuter roads are paved and the rest are gravel. Public transportation is unavailable. Tour companies offer the most convenient transportation modes available. Bicycles and motorcycles are available for circumventing the island. Food and water must be carried at all times as adequate eateries or convenience stores are not available. Car rentals and Jeeps with manual transmission are available.
Top Sight Seeing Places
The Caleta Hanga Roa is a public facility and has the marine pier where colourful fishing boats crowd the area. The fishermen hauling their prized catches and several boatloads of divers can be seen, making their way to the land. Nearby the pier is Ahu Tautira, which is known as a ceremonial platform, with restored moai.
The world’s only single room museum, Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert, named after a German priest buried at the church site. He dedicated his life to the betterment of residents of Rapa Nui. In this museum, the rate female moai and a coral eye can be found, which has been reconstructed from an anu at Playa Anakena.
The Iglesia at Hanga Roa is a religious centre, where Christian missionaries arrived to spread the gospel. This church or Iglesia located on a knoll is something which is worthy of a visit. The painting of the Via Crucis depicts a Catholic theme, while the wooden figures depict the Rapa Nui flavour. One of the altars is set up on a huge volcanic stone and the Sunday mass starts with a Rapa Nui hymn.
Majority of the Tapati Rapa Nui festival is held at the ceremonial center in Tahai. This facility was restored by archaeologist William Mulloy. The foundations of the boat-shaped dwellings where social and religious preachers lived are visible, even today. Proximal to the Tahai are also some moais, one of them unique as it has its white eyes restored. Tahai is a great place to witness the fading orange sunset and offers spectacular sceneries around.
Outside the city
This island itself is tiny and therefore, a few days should be adequate to visit most of the island’s attractions. Piti Pont and Pantu offer animal rides. Seeing Hanga Roa while seated on a horse saddle, is a typical Rapa Nui experience. More so, this is the natural way to visit the attraction. A matrix of trails leads to several rendezvous points accessible via horse ride. These horse rides are accompanied by experienced trainers and tour guides. A handful of established tour operators can cater to your archaeological and ecological tour needs. Hanga Roa is a great place to visit.