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Easter Island Travel Guide

Handicraft Market
Woodcarvings for sale at
the Handicraft Market in Hanga Roa.

Shopping

Aside from shell necklaces and feather ornaments, the main things to buy here are woodcarvings, dance paddles, miniature stone moai, small pieces of tapa, and imitation rongorongo tablets. Prices vary considerably from shop to shop.

Since the 1860s, Rapa Nui carvers have sought inspiration in drawings and photos of the work of their ancestors as preserved in museums worldwide. Some of their output is excellent and being able to bring home such a unique souvenir is a good reason for visiting the island.

Don't buy anything made from coral as you'll only be encouraging unscrupulous individuals to damage the island's small reefs. The onyx moai sold locally are imported from mainland Chile.

The Handicraft Market, opposite the church, sells overpriced woodcarvings, and is one of the only places in Polynesia where bargaining is expected. The vendors at this market are usually willing to trade woodcarvings for jeans, windbreakers, T-shirts, sneakers, toiletries, cosmetics, and rock music cassettes.

Handicrafts are also sold at the Municipal Market on Atamu Tekena, and inside a new pavilion in front of the airport terminal. The gift shop inside the Museo Antropólogico Sebastián Englert sells books, maps, videos, CDs, postage stamps, jewelry, and T-shirts at rather high prices. Consider the surcharge a donation to the museum.

A commercial art gallery, the Galería de Arte Aukara, on Ave. Pont off Atamu Tekena not far from the LanChile office, displays museum-quality woodcarvings by internationally known sculptor Bene Tuki. Each is a unique work of art. Bene Tuki's wife, Ana María Arredondo, prepares numbered prints on tapa. This gallery doesn't keep regular hours so call ahead for an appointment to be sure someone will be there.