Updated: Jan 24, 2020
When we decided to go to Easter Island, Mark's childhood dream location, we weren't expecting to find much in the way of beaches. Although Easter Island is a Polynesian island, it is known primarily for its mysterious statues, the Moai, and they were his main interest. None of the documentaries we had seen through the years even showed a beach with swimmers. So it was a fantastic surprise to discover that our visit to the middle of nowhere included a pristine beach, surfing, diving, snorkeling and the unmistakable vibe of a beach town.
This is the view from the water back to the beach at Anakena.
Anakena is the principal beach of Easter Island and is located on the northern coast approximately a 20-minute drive from the principal city of Hanga Roa, where most visitors stay. We fell in love with the beach when we visited on our first tour day as part of a full-day tour with the company. That day we were visiting the historical sites and saw the beach only as it related to the statues. The site is very mystical and we had to pinch ourselves to believe that what we were seeing was actually real. If you ever played the Wii fitness game where you ran virtually through a paradise like beach fronted by rolling hills, you'll be able to picture the location. Otherwise, just imagine a pristine Polynesian beach with immense stone statues looking inland.
The Moai statues at Anakena look inland.
Anakena Beach is part of the Rapa Nui National Park system and its facilities are very impressive. We visited on a Sunday, and we were joined by throngs of locals enjoying a beautiful day off in the sun. The grounds are massive so we never felt crowded, and it was fun to be part of a local activity. There are tables and barbecue facilities as well as many small open-air restaurants where you can buy an affordable fish or empanada meal. One of our favorite stands was on the path leading to the beach where two young men had set up a table of electric blenders where they made fresh tropical fruit smoothies.
The next day we returned to the beach and found that it was virtually empty. So, if you want to mingle with locals, go on Sunday. If you want an idyllic beach all to yourself, try a weekday. We were able to return easily via a beach truck service that started the 25-minute journey right next to our hotel. After a couple of stops to pick up passengers in town, it was a nonstop ride to paradise.
Right next to Anakena Beach you will find Ovahe Beach, another gem to explore. The sands are volcanic and pinkish like Bermuda. When we visited, we were the only people in the water!
To enjoy the beach life on Easter Island, we highly recommend the Hare Nua Hotel Boutique where we stayed for a week. The 12-room hotel was built in 1960, and is one of the few structures left from that era. Our hosts told us that their grandmother used to host archaeologists in the 1960s, who had come to explore the Moai statues. The name means "Grandmother's House," and the owners are committed to treating guests like family. We certainly felt that way while feasting on delicious Polynesian organic breakfasts, cooling off in the pool or relaxing on the deck in front of our room.
This was the view from our very comfortable room.
The Hare Nua Hotel Boutique is on Hanga Roa's main street and just a 10-minute walk to the sea where you can rent surfboards, book scuba diving trips and other excursions. There are also plenty of places to eat very close to the hotel. We enjoyed a delicious lobster dinner just across the street.
The local lobster is delicious.
Sea-side tables in downtown Hanga Roa are great places to sip tropical fruit drinks and watch the surfers.