The minutes we stepped off the plane, we knew we were on a tropical island: a steady wind blowing, the balmy temperature and the smell of the nearby sea … Everything was as it should have been!
Since it is the time of the annual Tapati Rapa Nui festival, we thought finding an accommodation would be difficult. We had checked the homepage of few hotels and knew we could find a room for 100 USD or more, but had no idea if there would be anything for less. So first thing, we started looking for accommodation. At the airport, owners of small hostels or residenciales offer their service showing off their folders with photos and other information. After 5 minutes we decided to stay at Residencial Petero Atamu, a quiet place where we could sit outside and with kitchen use.
We decided to take our time settling down in our new home since we had one week to discover Rapa Nui, whereas the majority of tourists only spend two or three days here.
On our first day we only checked out Hanga Roa, the only settlement on the island, leaving the highlights for the days to come. The first thing that surprised us was how rural the place was, small houses in the midst of lush vegetation, horses grazing in front of the church and less tourists than we had expected: we did not see any tour agency, there are no touts trying to sell you this restaurant or that art shop… There are many restaurants for such a small village, but hotels are almost invisible. Also surprising was that even in the highest season and during the festival, lots of accommodation is available.
Of course we tracked down strategic places like tourist information, the venue of the festival, Internet café, “supermercado” … The latter itself is quite an experience. It looks more like a storage than a supermarket! In comparison, European hard discounters are amazingly well presented, organized and clean. Plus, prices for food are simply crazy!!!
A few things caught immediately our attention: the surf in the harbour area is great so the bay is full of young surfers trying to catch a wave. And amongst the youngsters in town, Heidi could spot what she called “young island beauties” like in the film “Mutiny on the Bounty”, Gilles did not though. He has another six days to open his eyes!