FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Easter Island: Monumental Magic

by Kim Foley MacKinnon

Jan 6, 2020

Playa Anakena

January 2020

THERE IS NEVER A MOMENT on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, as it’s commonly called, when you aren’t intensely aware of exactly where you are. The tiny island in the middle of the ocean is so far removed from the mainland — about 2,200 miles from Chile — it is one of the most remote places on the planet. Its mysterious moai, the giant heads that graced countless magazine covers and intrigued explorers for centuries, fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I was young the first time I learned about them, and they seemed one of the most exotic things in the world. I vowed to see them in person one day.

When I finally got the chance to visit, I was thrilled. Nothing you see in books, magazines or films can do them justice. The carved stone blocks average 13 feet in height and weigh about 14 tons. No media can convey the intense feelings the moai spark as you stand underneath them in person, gazing up in wonder. It’s humbling and puzzling to think of the effort it took to carve and erect these giant figures, for purposes which we may never understand.

Rapa Nui has approximately 900 moai you can visit. Since the island measures roughly 64 square miles, you can easily take in all the sites in a few days. Considering there are only three roads, getting lost is pretty much impossible, but book an island tour through your hotel or a tour operator (which I did) for the best way to get around. It eliminates the need for a car and provides the ideal opportunity to have a local on hand to talk about the history of the island, the moai and the culture.

The Museo Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert offers another intriguing introduction to the island, with a comprehensive look at the island’s history, or what is known of it, and some of the challenges it faces, from overtourism to climate change. It also boasts one of the few female moai on the island.

The prevailing theory of the island’s history at this time, garnered from oral tales and outsiders’ observations, is that King Hotu Matu’a and his family sailed here sometime in the 10th century, most likely from Polynesia, landed on the beach at the north shore and made the island their home. But no one really knows the exact timeline because there are no written records. Mystery also surrounds the reason the moai were built, with most scholars thinking they were meant to honor ancestors or chiefs. And, finally, no one knows exactly how the moai were constructed. Considering they were most likely carved and placed around the island between the 10th and 16th centuries, it must have proved a monumental task for such a small community with the tools they had at the time.


It’s simply breathtaking to visit the Rano Raraku quarry, the source of most of the stone used in making the moai. You’ll find about 400 moai in all stages of carving scattered around the quarry, looking as if a giant was interrupted in his workshop and just stepped away for a moment. I saw one moai prone and still connected to the stone wall, as well as the only statue in a kneeling position among the hundreds of figures.

Seven restored moai called Ahu Nau Nau stand at Anakena Beach in Rapa Nui National Park, the beach where King Hotu Matu’a is said to have landed. Other sites across the island include Ahu Tongariki, where 15 moai stand in a line on a 200-foot ahu (platform). They face a large ceremonial area where you can see petroglyphs of turtles and fish.

Rano Kau, a huge volcano on the southern tip of the island, boasts a crater measuring a mile across and a lake nearly covered over by reeds. The opposite side of the crater crumbled a bit, revealing a crescent of the deep blue ocean beyond. Nearby lies the ceremonial village of Orongo, thought to have been built in the late 1600s and used by locals until 1866. The Rapa Nui people occupied the village only during the ceremony honoring the god Make-Make and was the base of operations for the birdman competition. You can visit several other sites, as the national park encompasses about 40 percent of the island, but no matter where you go, you will encounter more moai.

Easter Island is hands down one of the most special places I have ever been. As a writer, it’s my job to convey a sense of a destination, but as with other utterly unique spots in the world such as the Grand Canyon, the Galápagos Islands and the Taj Mahal, sometimes words alone don’t do a place justice. If you can, you have to see it for yourself to appreciate the magic.

LATAM Airlines is the only airline serving Mataveri International Airport (IPC), also known as Isla de Pascua Airport, on Easter Island. Direct flights arrive a few times a week from Santiago, Chile (SCL), and once a week from Papeete, Tahiti (PPT); either route takes less than six hours. Most hotels offer complimentary round-trip shuttle service to and from the airport, complete with a lei upon landing.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions


Insta Feed
Feb 23, 2024

The Radical: A New Boutique Hotel, Opens in Asheville, North Carolina’s, River Arts District

Once an abandoned 1923 constructed warehouse in Asheville, North Carolina, it took a creative group of designers, artists, musicians, chefs and business folks to transform a neglected, 100-year-old structure into one of Asheville’s most interesting and daring hotel projects.

Why Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:

February 2024
Feb 23, 2024

Pickle Up: Get in on America’s Fastest Growing Sport

Early on, pickleball had something to do with pickles. Pickles the dog, that is. In one story, the game was named for a family dog that ran off with the ball between sets.

Feb 23, 2024

Hôtel Norman Opens Near the Top of Champs Elysées

Located a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe, Olivier Bertrand recently opened Hôtel Norman for those looking to explore the city.

A New Perspective on Incentive Travel

Incentive travel has long been a way for organizations to drive sales and reward employees with opulent trips to exotic destinations. Today it encompasses even more.

Feb 23, 2024

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco Completes Renovations

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco recently completed renovations of its entrances, lobby, culinary concepts and meeting space. This marks the final stage of the renovation, which began in 2021 with the revitalization of its 269 guestrooms and 45 suites.

Feb 21, 2024

Make Alberta, Canada, Your Next Wellness Getaway

Rich in mountains, prairies, forests and hot springs, Alberta, Canada, takes nature and wellness travel to a whole new level. Combine the beauty of this western Canadian province with relaxation and you’re in for a treat.

Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler

Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 21, 2024

Amantaka Review

You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.