The Mysterious Moai of Easter Island

The Mysterious Moai Statues of Easter Island

 

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui and Isla de Pascua, is one of those far away places we heard about but never thought we would have the opportunity to experience firsthand.

Easter Island Maoi Statues

The remote island seems almost fictional, like something out of a childhood bedtime story. At times, it feels as if the island was never meant to be re-discovered by modern man, as if it has a dark history that it doesn’t want to reveal to the world.

We knew very little about Rapa Nui, aside from the iconic images of giant stone heads that oddly pop out of the earth like a man buried in sand on the beach with nothing but his head visible.

It’s a surreal feeling to be in the presence of the ancient Moai statues, alone and deserted on a volcanic island surrounded by wild horses and whispering trade winds. At times we had to pinch ourselves to remind us that it wasn’t a dream, that we were actually walking on the legendary island.

The general story is that over 800 years ago, the ancient Polynesians that inhabited the island crafted the giant heads by carving them directly out of the volcano at Rano Raraku (also known as the quarry or the nursery – see the third picture down). Then, without access to modern day equipment, they somehow transported these insanely heavy statues around the island and resurrected them on massive stone platforms called an “Ahu” (see the first photo below).

Pictures of the Moai Statues on Easter Island

 

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Ahu Tongariki near Rano Raraku, a 15–Moai Ahu excavated and restored in the 1990s

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Ahu Tongariki and dramatic volcanic cliffs, photo taken from Rano Raruku

Rano Raraku Easter Island

Giant stone heads at Rano Raruku, the main quarry and home to almost 400 moai statues

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Happy couple fulfilling a dream, Ahu Tongariki in the backdrop

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Ahu Akivi, a popular ahu with seven moai statues located over 9 km from the quarry

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Resident of Hanga Roa riding his horse at sunset

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Volcanic stone and colourful wild flowers near Ahu Tongariki on the south coast of Easter Island

Just a little to the Left...

Just a little to the left…

Easter Island Maoi Statues at Sunset

Moai statues near the town of Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui’s capital city

Easter Island Maoi Statues at Arekena Beach

Anakena Beach and its tall tropical palm trees. Anakena is unusual for Easter Island
because it’s one of only two sandy beaches in an otherwise rocky coastline

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Nicole dwarfed by the massive moai statues at Rano Raraku.
At times it felt like we were the only people on the island, adding to the eerie atmosphere

Easter Island Maoi Statues at Arekena Beach

Moai statues with unique pukao hats,  carved from a very light red volcanic stone scoria

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Giant stone moai proudly erected at Ahu Tongariki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Easter Island Maoi Statues at Sunset

Chilean military ships patrolling the waters of Rapa Nui at sunset

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Rano Raruku, the main quarry where most of the moai statues were carved

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Ahu Tongariki, the largest ahu on Easter Island

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Peculiar stone maoi statues at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island Maoi Statues

Nicole taking a moment to soak in the remarkable surroundings

Easter Island Maoi Statues
Hanga Roa moai at sunset

There are many theories about what the statues represent and why they were constructed, but no one can definitively explain their existence. Regardless, it is easy to see why this UNESCO World Heritage Site was selected as the Eighth Wonder of the World by top travel bloggers.


Have you visited Easter Island? What did you think?
Share your experience in the comments section below

 


About Traveling Canucks

Cam and Nicole Wears are newbie parents living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken them to over 65 countries on 6 continents in the past 10 years. Learn more about their story here. Follow them on Google+ and subscribe to their travel newsletter.