Spotting The First Moai; Walking the Coastline of Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile.

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The primary city on Easter Island is the small town of Hanga Roa; population 3,304. Thanks to it’s remote location, and small foot print, it’s easily explored on foot. In addition to it’s rustic sea side nature, there happen to be some moai heads located very close to the town in the Ahu Tahni archeological site.


This post is one chapter on our trip to Mexico City, Mexico and Easter Island, Chile. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Spotting the First Moai, Walking the Coastline of Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile.


As the thundershower clouds lifted, we later attended up to reception at the Hotel Taura’a and met her husband Bill. He was very pleasant and offered to give us a lift around town and a brief tour. Seeking adventure, we declined and set out for self discovery by walking on our own.

We walked from the hotel down Ave Atamu Tekena towards the harbour Caleta Hanga Roa. The weather was a bit stormy but it came in waves and would clear up in about 10 minutes after the showers passed. The roads in town are all cobblestoned, which made for an interesting sound as the cars and trucks passed over them.

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Seeing the First Moai:

We were a bit snacky so we headed down to the water to seek out some food. We took in a view of the harbour, seeing our first moai that was implanted and placed against the harbour. There were a few small fishing boats and other small boats that were perhaps used for tour groups.

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Lunch at Pea Restaurant:

…with the Turtles in the bay:

We arrived to Pea; a small place on the shoreline. We enjoyed the first of many Pisco Sours’ and a French fries snack on an open air patio. It was a beautiful view and to our surprise, there were several (3+) turtles swimming in the bay that could be seen from the deck. This was pretty odd, and even in Hawaii, we usually only see turtles near the beach – not near structures where people frequent.

The weather turned quickly and the thundershowers that we had quickly evaporated, fading away to bright sunshine amid dreamy clouds.

Walking the Hanga Roa town Coastline:

After our snack, we headed northwards on foot towards the site of Ahu Tahni. We past our first moai at Ahu Tautira; two lonely moai overlooking what is now a soccer field. We passed through some jagged coast line which would become really familiar throughout our time on the island.

On our walk up, we found a nice sheltered bay for swimming. We would later come back here during the trip to spend the day in the sun. We also found a few moai; including one of the few on the island with a topknot that actually had eyes on them. These moai are absolutely massive for the most part and are simply stunning the first time that you see them.

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Visiting Ahu Tahni Archeological Site:

We continued on the shoreline walk and spent some time in the afternoon at the awesome Ahu Tahni. It’s a large area shaped in a bowl that has moai with the ocean in the background. It is beautiful sight with moai overlooking the ocean. This was the area to come for sunsets, as we did twice on this trip. This site became one of my favourite places to visit on the trip, in part thanks to the awesome views at sunset, but also because it was so easily accessible from our hotel in Hanga Roa.

We walked back towards the Taura’a hotel and passed by the Hanga Roa graveyard, one of the few on the island.

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Dinner at Hana Hoku Restaurant:

We were feeling hungry by this point, and ended up walking back towards Hana Hoku, an outdoor patio restaurant that was highly recommended by Lonely Planet. It had a charming but rustic feel to it, with fresh ocean breezes.

I enjoyed some tuna, which was the food staple of our trip. We were able to get some reasonably priced Castilero del Diablo Carménère. I was expecting over the top wine prices, but it was pretty reasonable considering the distances that it had traveled. I suspect that the transport costs were subsidized by the government.

We closed with a beautiful but still sunset outside of the restaurant overlooking the harbour.

My First Impressions of Hanga Roa:

We headed back to the Taura’a hotel with Catholic Church bells in the background ringing at 7 PM. Wow – what a surreal experience to be all the way out here surrounded by turtles, tuna and moai!


For those that have visited Hanga Roa, what was your favourite part of town ?

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