Friday, December 09, 2011

To the beaches & more

Today we wanted to check out the only 2 beaches on all of Easter Island and give snorkelling a try. So we headed up to the north end of the island, about 30 km away.

Tahai - But our first stop of the day was a site called Tahai, only 1.5 km from Sea Turtle. This site was restored in 1968, meaning that the moai (statues) were raised to a standing position on their ahu (platform) which were also repaired. And 1 even had a replica set of white coral eyes added. The eyes show how alive the moai then appear.

Ahu Vai Uri - 5 moai were re-erected but 1 reposed that was too badly damaged to be restored and placed with others on Ahu Vai Uri was left in its found position.

Judy with the resolute ancients

Lone stone head - This crudely carved head was discovered in the rubble of the Ahu Vai Uri (above) and is perhaps the earliest human representation to be carved on Easter Island.

Ahu Ko Te Riko - It was decided to place a replica set of eyes in this 1 moai during restoration. As so few fragments of the original white coral & red scoria eyes have ever been found, it is believed that only a few were ever made and then used for ceremonial purposes. (Red scoria was the material also used for making the topknots.)

Look, I'm down here!

Also at this Tahira site, can be seen 1 of several canoe ramps on Easter Island made by the original people. There are only 2 sandy beaches on the entire island, making it a very difficult for them to land on the rocky shores.

Some islanders elongated their ears and some did not. Each clan made their moai as they were, with either long or short ears. But most moai never changed much over the years except in size and detail. Almost all moai face inland, overlooking and protecting the village, but there are a couple on the island that face out to sea. It is believed that when a village was near the sea, the moai that face out to sea were in fact overlooking a former village located there.

Anakena - Next stop was the beach at Anakena. Around 700 A.D., the first Polynesians landed on Anakena beach, as most of the rest of this island is rocky shored. We walked the beautiful white sand beach and then plunged into the warm ocean and snorkelled but saw very little ocean life in the clear waters. Disappointing. The ocean temperature ranges from 24° C in summer and 18° C in winter.

Palm trees, white sand, and moai

Ahu Nau Nau - There are 3 ahu at Anakena but the star is Ahu Nau Nau with 7 moai that display exquisite detail which had been preserved by being buried in the sand before being restored in 1978. Fragments of an original moai eye were discovered beneath this platform and is now on display in the Hanga Roa Museum.

More detail displayed in gallery photos

Ahu Ature Huki - This is the site where the first moai on the entire island was re-erected, by the legendary Thor Heyerdahl in 1956. There is a small brass plaque on the ahu commemorating the event but fencing restricts viewing of it.

Fence won`t allow us to get any closer (the beach is right behind this moai)

Ovahe - This is the second of the only 2 beaches on Easter Island and it is only about 1 km from Anakena beach. No tour buses go here and very few people so we wanted to check it out. It was a little difficult to find, but after many wrong turns, there it was! As predicted, there were only a couple of sunbathers in the small cove with glistening pink sand, and another couple of swimmers in the turquoise waters...heavenly...

Tiny cove of Ovahe beach with pink coloured sand

Te Pito Kura - We next stopped to see the largest moai that was ever successfully moved and erected (but not the largest ever carved). It is 10 m tall and weighs 80 tons and was also the last moai to be reposed, sometime after 1838.

Ahu Tongariki - 15 colossal moai, with the heaviest weighing 88 metric tons, on an ahu of 220 m long - the biggest ahu ever built. Wow! All of these moai were toppled during the warring period of 1770 to 1838 but were then restored from 1990 to 1996 after more damage of a 1960 mainland Chilean 9.3 earthquake and tsunami with waves of 11 m.

Of the 15 moai, only 1 with topknot

Travelling Moai - Japan financed the restoration of Ahu Tongariki in the 1990s with the contribution of a huge crane and $2 million. As mentioned above, moai had been previously toppled in the warring period but were then further damaged and tossed great distance in the 1960 tsunami. This moai visited Osaka and Tokyo in 1990.

The Travelling Moai, with Ahu Tongariki in background

After another exhausting and exhilarating day, when we returned to Sea Turtle we noticed by little muddy footprints that once again kids had been out in our dinghy and decided that we could no longer tie up to the stairway to get ashore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys! Just got caught up on your adventures. Sounds just great!

I will not be following you along!

S/V Day Ja Vu