The Moai statues at night // © 2012 Explora
Easter Island is definitely a bucket list destination for most North American travelers — it’s located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, at least a five-hour flight away from any major land mass, but you wouldn’t know that by visiting. Most likely, this is because Easter Island is mostly frequented by world travelers who have already crossed off major trip-of-a-lifetime destinations.
Explora’s Rapa Nui property goes to great lengths to appeal to this type of traveler. The eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable property was built on land that has no archeological or agricultural value but happens to be in a prime location with views of the ocean. The resort’s high-end appeal does not stem from overly decorated rooms and public spaces but rather from its simple design and a cozy, communal atmosphere. As a world traveler and a former backpacker, I would compare Explora’s lodging style to that of a five-star hostel. The environment is very structured. There are set meal times and a set schedule of excursions included in the stay. While such structure might seem restrictive, it is how Explora operates in remote destinations such as Chile’s Patagonia region, the Atacama Desert and Easter Island, where access to landmarks is limited.
The lodge in Rapa Nui was built in 2007 and was one of the first properties in South America to obtain LEED certification. The property’s 30 guestrooms extend out to the left and the right of the main lodge and all overlook the ocean. Rooms feature a minimalist design, using pinewood and earth-colored decor and include a Jacuzzi tub, a double sink, a king-size bed, a window seat and plenty of space for expedition gear. There are four Raa suites, which offer similar amenities with added space.
The hotel also features a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a spa, a restaurant, a bar and a lounge area. Professional guides are available in the lounge area to assist clients with booking included excursions. This is generally done during the evening before the trip. There is ample variety when it comes to choosing an excursion, from the extremely athletic treks to easy-going family hikes. During my stay, there were several families at the lodge, and I was impressed by Explora’s ability to tailor excursions to a group’s specific needs.
Most treks last a half-day and guests return to the lodge for lunch. After lunch, you can either schedule another outing, stay behind and enjoy a spa treatment or head down to the pool. All of Explora’s excursions, be it on foot, by bike or by van, are limited to eight guests, allowing for a more personal experience for every guest.
Guides will advise clients about the best overall itinerary for the duration of their stay on the evening or afternoon of their arrival. Most will recommend an excursion to the quarry, where the moai (statues) were constructed, a trip to see the 15, one of Easter Island’s most famous landmarks, and a hike to the Rano Kao Volcano. From there, depending on the amount of time guests have, they can recommend further exploration of the archaeological sites on the island. Advise clients to spend at least three full days at Explora to have the best experience on the island.
Getting to Easter Island can be tricky as flight schedules vary, and services do not operate daily. However, clients can fly from LAX to Lima, Peru, and get an easy connection to and from Easter Island on select days with LAN Airlines. For clients in the West, this is the easiest and fastest way to reach the island. Visitors from other parts of the U.S. can fly directly to either Lima or Santiago and connect to Easter Island.