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Easter Island Travel Guide

Mataveri Airport
Acommodations booking counters
at Mataveri Airport.

Airport

At 3,353 meters long, Mataveri Airport (IPC) has the second-longest runway in the South Pacific, only a little shorter than the one at the former French military base at Hao in the Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia.

A rough airstrip was begun here in the early 1950s, and in the 1960s the U.S. Air Force improved it as an "ionospheric observation center." In fact, the Americans used the base to spy on the French nuclear testing.

The Americans left after the election of Salvador Allende in 1970, but in 1986 they were back with Pinochet's blessing to extend both ends of the airstrip for use as an emergency landing strip by NASA space shuttles. Recently a plan to erect a new control tower in the form of a giant moai was scrapped after local objections.

The hotels and residenciales provide free airport transfers, or you can walk to any of them within half an hour. There's no bank, left-luggage office, or duty free shop, but there are many souvenir stands. The departure tax is usually included in the ticket price (ask).

To control pests it's prohibited to export fresh fruit or vegetables. Iorana means hello and goodbye in Rapanui.