a few Rapa Nui visitor site highlights
The Tahai archeological zone, with it’s restored open-air sanctuaries, is located on the western shoreline just outside of town. It is a beautiful place to contemplate the many mysteries of Rapa Nui as the sun sets over the water, behind a row of moai. These are also the only moai to have haunting reproductions of the original coral eyes.
The largest ahu (ceremonial platform and burial chamber) on the island is Ahu Tongariki. This ahu once again supports its 15 standing moai. Back in 1960 this site took a direct hit from a tidal wave which washed the already fallen moai, some weighing as much as 30 tons, several hundred yards inland. Today they have been carefully returned to their restored Ahu.
The coastline is dotted with ceremonial ahus and toppled moai. They remain sacred sites, often small burial chambers in the rocks.
The ahu here features such finely fitted stonework that many people still point to this as proof of a connection to the Incas of South America. Nearby the only "two headed" moai once stood.
This is the quarry where nearly all moai originated, and where hundreds of moai may be seen in various states of completion - some hardly more than a carved outline in the mountain, and others completed and ready for transport to their final place of honor. The largest moai ever carved is here, at 71 feet in height. The outer slopes of Rano Raraku are also home to Tukuturi - the kneeling moai.
petroglyphs are found in many areas
This is the site where the first islanders are said to have landed. Today this idyllic site is again home to 6 of the most intricately carved standing moai (several still showing "tattoo" carving on their torsos.) Seemingly at odds with the rest of the island, here the rocky coast gives way to a broad white sand beach, turquoise lagoon, and plam trees swaying in the breeze.
This is the only inland site; located on a breezy hillside surrounded by grassland. This site is also unique because this is the only ahu where the moai were positioned to face the sea. This is where noted archeologist William Mulloy first re-erected any of the moai.
The ceremonial village of Orongo is set high on a crater rim, with the sea far below to one side, and a crater lake equally distant on the other. This is the site of the famous Birdman Cult, with many elaborate petroglyphs and stone houses found here. This is also the best site to view the neighboring motu.