Over 1,200 miles from the nearest inhabited island and over
2,000 miles from Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is one of the most remote
inhabited islands in the world. On Marina’s
recent call here, guests had a beautiful sunny day to explore this mysterious
island and the centuries old relics left by a once thriving population.
The name “Easter Island” was coined by a Dutch explorer who
encountered the island on Easter Sunday in 1722. The Polynesian name, Rapa Nui,
is said to refer to its resemblance to the Island of Rapa in the Bass Islands,
but some claim that Rapa was the original name given by settlers.
Uninhabited by humans for millions of years, it is believed
that a group of seafarers, probably from the Marquesas, landed on Easter Island
in 300 AD. With very few safe places to disembark, legend has it that King Hoto
Matua landed a double-hulled canoe on Anakena Beach and founded the first
enjoyed a gorgeous day frolicking in the crystal clear blue waters at Anakena
Beach and were even visited by some wild horses, a common sight on the island.
Horses were brought here by settlers years ago and now roam the island untamed.
Some estimates put the population of wild horses as high as 10,000.
What draws the more than 50,000 visitors each year are the 887 mystical moai statues carved by the ancient
inhabitants of this island. The tallest statue is nearly 22 feet high and
weighs 82 tons, and thus a great deal of mystery surrounds the methods that
would’ve been used to construct and transport these impressive monuments, built
long before the benefit of modern machinery.
Almost half of the moai are still at the main quarry where
the statues were carved. The quarry is filled with statues that were never
completed, including the largest moai that, if completed, would have been 71
feet tall and weighed an estimated 270 tons.
The other half of the known statues were completed and moved
across the island. No one is sure exactly how this miraculous feat was
accomplished. Legends tell of people enlisting divine powers to command the
statues to walk, while other theorists describe an intricate system using
ropes, trees and human labor.
By 1868 all of the statues on the island had been toppled.
Some accounts recall an island clan pushing a statue over, but others refer to
“earth shaking,” and it is believed that an earthquake may have been responsible
for the toppling of the statues. Today, because of preservation efforts, about
50 moai have been re-erected on their ceremonial sites.
Marina will return
to Easter Island in April 2013 on the Pacific
Mysteries sailing, in December 2013 on the Pacific Paradise sailing, and in April 2014 on the Islands & Incas sailing. All three
voyages are featured in Oceania Cruises’ latest Your World Your Way brochure that is hot off the presses. If you
haven’t had a chance to visit this remarkable island, hopefully you will be
able to take advantage of one of these wonderful voyages.