Almost as good is the hike along the south coast, although you're bound to run into other tourists here as a paved highway follows the shore. Begin early and catch a taxi to Rano Raraku, the stone quarry where all of the island's statues were born. This is easily the island's most spectacular sight with 397 statues in various stages of completion lying scattered around the crater. And each day large tour groups come to Rano Raraku to sightsee and have lunch. However, if you arrive before 9 am, you'll have the site to yourself for a few hours. When you see the first tour buses headed your way, hike down to Ahu Tongariki on the coast, where 15 massive statues were reerected in 1994. From here, just start walking back toward Hanga Roa (20 km) along the south coast. You'll pass many fallen statues and enjoy some superb scenery. Whenever you get tired, simply go up onto the highway and stick out your thumb and you'll be back in town in a jiffy.
An outstanding 13-km walk begins at the museum and follows the west coast five km north to Ahu Tepeu. As elsewhere, keep your eyes pealed for banana trees growing out of the barren rocks as these often indicate caves you can explore. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is one of the island's most photographed sites, Ahu Akivi, with seven statues restored in 1960. From here an interior farm road runs straight back to town (study the maps at the museum carefully, as you'll go far out of your way if you choose the wrong road here).
A shorter hike takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller crater which provided stone for the red topknots that originally crowned the island's statues. There's a great view of Hanga Roa from the three crosses on an adjacent hill and you can easily do it all in half a day. A different walk takes you right around the 3,353-meter airport runway, which crosses the island just south of town. Near the east end of the runway is Ahu Vinapu with perfectly fitted monolithic stonework bearing an uncanny resemblance to similar constructions in Peru.
Easter Island's moderate climate and scant vegetation make for easy cross country hiking, and you won't find yourself blocked by fences and private property signs very often. You could also tour the island by mountain bike, available from several locations. If you surf or scuba dive, there are many opportunities here. A minimum of five days are needed to see the main sights of Easter Island, and two weeks would be far better. The variety of things to see and do will surprise you, and you'll be blessed with some unforgettable memories.
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