When my husband and I told our friends and family we were traveling to Easter Island, many of them were surprised to learn that people actually live on the most remote island on Earth. In fact, about 4,000 beautiful, friendly people live on this magical South Pacific island, and many of them in some interesting, tiny houses.
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, as it’s called by the locals, is actually a territory of Chile, but many of the people who live there are of Polynesian descent. The 15 mile long island is about 1,300 miles west of mainland Chile and Hanga Roa is the only town on the island. It also contains a small airport, one main paved road and several dirt roads.
The main reason that visitors come to Easter Island is to see the enigmatic moai. These large figures (some nearly 40 feet tall and weighing over 80 tons) were carved around 1100 CE and nearly 900 of them have been counted on the island. They were carved out of solidified volcanic ash by the early Polynesians to represent their ancestors and the first people who discovered the island. Contrary to popular belief, the moai are more than just heads. The figures were carved to show the torso and hands of each person, and the locations and the ways in which they are placed represent their status and where they landed on the island.
Because of the mild, semi-tropical climate on Rapa Nui, many of the homes are open to the outside and have decks or covered patios. Also because of the lack of building materials on the island and the costs of shipping to this remote place, many of the homes are built with local volcanic rock. Several homes we saw were also made out of shipping containers, which are delivered regularly by ships from South America and Asia. Because of their low cost, corrugated metal sheets are used frequently for the homes’ roofs.
Photos by Christina Nellemann