From Ancient Seeds, A Modern Paradise Grows

From Ancient Seeds, A Modern Paradise Grows

The island of Rapa Nui, known more commonly as Easter Island, rises from the Pacific Ocean at the far eastern end of Polynesia, over a thousand miles from the nearest inhabited landmass and over 2000 miles from the continent of Chile. Much of the story of Rapa Nui comes back to this incredible isolation, which over millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of human settlement gave rise to a cultural and ecological site unlike any other on earth. 

From the moment you land in Hangaroa airport, you can feel the presence of that history. Rapa Nui is ancient, a clear presence of the distant past right here in the present, but what is perhaps most interesting is how that past and the modern-day blend into today's Easter Island culture.  

For all the hardships they have faced, the Rapa Nui people (for whom the island is named) still live on Easter Island and thrive in the island’s growing tourism industry, and you can see the remnants of their history and culture across the island. 


A Paradise That Was Almost Lost

There is a harrowing history here on Rapa Nui. At one point, it’s believed that the Rapa Nui people almost went completely extinct, and the ecological heritage of the island has similarly hung on despite numerous challenges. But despite those past hardships, the culture of Rapa Nui and even some tiny remnants of the natural ecology of the island have been preserved, and from the edge of the brink a new, modern paradise has begun to grow. 

The fascinating history of Rapa Nui’s resilience is something that you can touch, feel, and see when you’re on Easter Island, and here at Nayara Hangaroa, our team strives to honor that past as we do our part to carry the torch of this new, growing global destination. 


Awakening on an Island Paradise

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A few days after you arrive on the island of Rapa Nui, you can already start to understand why the people who settled here chose never to leave. Compared to many of the Polynesian islands, which are firmly within the tropics, Easter Island is just a touch further south, with a temperate subtropical climate that brings comfortable weather and fresh breezes to go with the shining island sun. 

Taking a walk from your lodging out onto the grounds, you can look out across the grassy flatlands towards the volcanic terrain carved by wind and water on the different sides of the island, even catching a glimpse of the wild horses that roam here. From breakfast, you can sip your coffee, relax, enjoy the company of friends and family, and look out towards the horizon in any direction.

But there are islands all across the Pacific, some warmer, some cooler, many isolated. What sets the island of Rapa Nui apart is the fact that with every step you take, major sites of ancient history are all around you. This is hallowed, protected ground that you walk on, a global heritage site where simply a glimpse of an ancient home or the impassive gaze of the Moai statues reminds you that even though there are cars and roads and computers here, the soul of this place is much, much older than we can contemplate. 

There are modern amenities and technology on Easter Island, to be sure, and Easter Islanders have continued on into the future just like we all have. But the origins of this place tie back centuries, even millennia, in an unbroken line that you can trace back to the very first original settlers, who navigated hundreds of miles in primitive boats guided only by the stars.


A UNESCO World Heritage Site Where Ancient History Is Right Here With Us

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There is something different about a historical place that never “fell”. When you tour the ancient archaeological sites and walk down the main street of the Orongo Ceremonial village, these aren’t ruins, occupied only by ghosts. They feel more like old homes that were never torn down or simply haven’t been used in a while, and that’s strengthened by the fact that the living history of Rapa Nui still remains. 

You can meet people from the Rapa Nui community here. At Nayara, we work closely with the Hito family, a group of Rapa Nui descendants who are lively, sharp, helpful, and knowledgeable stewards of the past just as much as they are visionaries about Rapa Nui’s future. 

The preservation of the ancient customs — through traditional festivals, ceremonies, garb, and fun activities for the community — is a big part of the Rapa Nui’s responsibility. But at the same time, the members of the Hito family also understand that in order to preserve ancient history truly, it has to continue to evolve into the modern day, which is why they’ve embraced thoughtful modern tourism within this protected landscape. 


Sharing History in the Modern Day

Cultural tours, like the Vaiteka or He Rongo O Te Manu tour, provide a modern perspective on these sacred ancient sites and bring you back to understanding the power that they held to the people who lived here. Meanwhile, experiences like the Rapa Nui cooking, body painting, and Moai carving classes give you the chance to experience now a little taste of how things were back then. 

Throughout the year, there are also festivals, performances of traditional dances, music, and ceremonies, and just the chance that you might cross paths with the Hito family or have one as a local guide, and get to share a moment of curiosity and connection about their fascinating family history. 


How Today’s Easter Island Excursions Answer Your Call to Adventure

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But as Marisol Hito explains, preservation of heritage is only one aspect of the new life that is thriving in the 21st century. The past is hugely important to Easter Island’s identity, but in order for the Rapa Nui culture to truly endure, it has to continue to evolve and find new ways to connect with the modern world. 

“Rapa Nui culture is alive and evolving,” she says, “and we must ride the winds of change, always proud of our heritage. The Rapa Nui culture and soul are not only ours to revere, they belong to the whole world!”

Ironically, many of the new activities and experiences on Easter Island draw from an even more ancient piece of history — the island’s fascinating terrain and nature, which are just as intriguing from an ecological perspective as Easter Island is from a cultural one. 


A Protected National Park Safeguarding Ancient Endemic Species

The waters around Rapa Nui are a fascinating habitat, a towering mountain on the ocean floor where open-ocean fish intermingle with shallow-water species for a colorful blend of aquatic life, including the endemic Ra Rape lobster that is found nowhere else in the world. 

On shore, any non-migratory species and native plant life were isolated for millions of years, allowing for rapid specialization and evolution that naturalists are still studying to this day, like the 10 species of insects including several varieties of springtail found in the caves of Easter Island and nowhere else on earth.

Conservation is a massive ongoing effort in Easter Island's national park, as much of the island’s biodiversity was considered lost due to being overrun by invasive species brought along with colonialization. But there is hope that with careful conservation and the protection of native species, one day the island will once again thrive with biodiversity. 

However, no amount of change could take away the incredible landscapes that are just waiting to be explored, and you can venture out across every part of the island on the best tours and experiences the island has to offer. 


A Small Taste of Easter Island Tours And Experiences

You can surf on the gorgeous beaches, and scuba dive beneath the surface to see the only underwater Moai. You can set out for a variety of hiking and trekking excursions that will take you anywhere from the beaches up along oceanic cliffs, through the modern village of Hangaroa and ancient historical sites, and up to the very tops of the volcanic craters that formed the island. 

And it’s not just walking. You can tackle the terrain on a mountain bike tour, including a once-in-a-lifetime trip through the caves of the island, or explore the entire island on your own on a motorized 4x4. The opportunities are endless, and whatever your choice of adventure, you will be walking in the footsteps of ancient travelers and ancient residents of this striking, beautiful island. 


The Complex Future of Rapa Nui

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The ancient days of the Rapa Nui people as the rulers and only residents of Easter Island have gone, but the cultural heritage and spirit of the island remain as vibrant as ever, still here with us and helping guide us into the future. 

With everything that we do here at Nayara Hangaroa — from the construction of our accommodations to the meals served in our restaurant concepts to the tours that we offer — we seek to learn from the essence of Rapa Nui culture and strive to deliver an experience in the modern day that would be worthy of the ancient kings and queens who once ruled here. 

As a modern traveler coming to Easter Island, your very presence contributes to this vision — of a place with strong roots and a vibrant future ahead of it, one that remembers old traditions and pays homage to the past at the same time as it provides a timeless experience for the many years to come. 

That’s why we are thrilled to invite you to join us and stand here, fully present in a land where the past and the future collide, and take in your global heritage at the same time as you contribute to its preservation and growth for the years to come. 

If you’d like to learn more about visiting us at Nayara Hangaroa, you can reach out to us at