7. Easter Island: Half-Day Archaeology Tour
Rapa Nui National Park, a wildlife sanctuary spread across most of Easter Island and a UNESCO World Heritage site, contains about 900 moai sculptures as well as 300 ahu, or ceremonial platforms on which the carved figures stand. Sculpted from solidified volcanic ash, these statues are believed to represent the spirits of ancestors and high-ranking members of each tribe.
After hotel pickup from Hanga Roa, travel south with your guide into the park and to Ahu Tahai, a ceremonial platform that has a unique moai, a stone giant that stands alone, but is protected by its more than 13-feet, imposing figure. Continue north to Puna Pau to see how some moai sport a different look. You'll notice they have pukao, or topknots, made out of red scoria on their head. It's believed the volcanic rock was used to impress rival tribes. Roughly 30 pukao are located in or near the Puna Pau quarry, the source of the red scoria.
Afterwards, proceed to Ahu Akivi, where you’ll see a line of seven moai looking out toward the ocean. The moai here each stand 16 feet tall and weigh about 18 tons. What's mysterious about these sea-facing figures? It's an unusual sight considering how the other ahu moai stand with their backs against the water. One theory behind their unusual position is that these moai symbolize the 7 explorers from the Polynesian homeland of Hiva and were sent by the chief to find the island of Rapa Nui.
According to this hypothesis, these statues face the ocean in the direction they came from. The last stop will be the Ahu Huri a Urenga, one of the 25 platforms that is not on the coast, but in the interior of the island and which corresponds to an agricultural area. After your engaging exploration of ahu moai, you’ll be taken back to your hotel.