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
PHOTO: © CKIM FOLEY MACKINNON

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.

PHOTO: © CKIM FOLEY MACKINNON

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.

INFO TO GO
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.

Introducing

FX Excursions

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

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Nov 30, 2022

Grand Hyatt Vail Announces New Offerings for Milestone Winter 2022/2023

Grand Hyatt Vail offers travelers an exciting lineup of experiences for winter 2022/2023. The property celebrates its 40th anniversary in conjunction with Vail Mountain’s 60th anniversary this December.

Los Cabos Sets Your Vacation Apart
from the Rest

Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.

eFlyer Reviews
Nov 30, 2022

Facial Lounge at Back Bay Center

From Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to Corona Del Mar, Dana Point and Laguna Beach, there are no shortages of lavish hotels and full-service day spas spanning Orange County. Spa enthusiasts are spoiled for choice, with so many different flavors of high-end interiors, signature treatments, elaborate services, retail areas and, often, swanky snacks served in cafés and solariums.

December 2022
Nov 30, 2022

A Night to Remember

United MileagePlus, The Peninsula Chicago and FXExpress Publications, Inc. welcomed an exclusive group of United Airlines’ most elite customers, Premier 1Ks, to the luxury hotel’s stunning rooftop Z Bar to celebrate United MileagePlus’s multiple 2022 awards from our family of brands, including Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com.

From 24-Hour Butler Service to a Sky Pool: Boutique Luxury Awaits at Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences in Los Cabos

Set on a seaside bluff overlooking Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences is a Baja paradise specializing in serene vistas and impeccable hospitality, offering a Pacific coast lifestyle with authentic Mexican touches. Guests can now earn a fourth night free at the stunning resort, plus a $100 resort credit, when booking through March 20, for travel through June 15.

eFlyer News
Nov 30, 2022

Mélia Hotels International to Grow Luxury Brands in Mexico with 2 New Hotels

Melia Hotels International grows its luxury brands and expands in Central America with the addition of a Gran Mélia Hotels & Resorts property and a ME by Mélia hotel. The expansion allows Mélia Hotels International to commit to the region and offer its high-quality experiences to travelers and locals.

Daily
Nov 30, 2022

The Ritz-Carlton Announces Partnership with Diptyque

The Ritz-Carlton recently announced a partnership with Diptyque, the luxury French parfumerie, bringing the brand's luxurious bath products to The Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts worldwide.

Discover a Journey Filled with Wonder in 2022

ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.

Daily
Nov 30, 2022

Mondrian to Open First Singapore Hotel in 2023

Accor Hotels Group announced Singapore's first Mondrian hotel will be built in the heart of the city's prominent Duxton Hill neighborhood, set to open in early 2023. The news comes on the heels of Accor's recent announcement regarding its planned venture with Ennismore, which brings together Ennismore’s know-how in building brands with creative storytelling, design and authentic experiences, with Accor’s wealth of knowledge in delivering scale, network growth and distribution.