Biking around Easter Island

Biking around the Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is a great idea. If you like to ride a bike, it is maybe the second best idea after the one you had when you decided to actually visit Easter Island.

I biked around the Island during winter, which seems to be a great season for biking if you are lucky enough not to see rain (I was lucky enough not to see rain at all during 5 days). I have not been to the Island in summer but I think it is probably not such a good idea to bike around the Island during summer (around 30°C and a lot of humidity).

In total, I biked around 120 km (75 mi) in 4 days. I was on the road (biking/walking/taking pictures) around 3-5 hours per day depending on the route I chose and the places I visited.

LAN Airlines' 767 at Easter Island's Airport

LAN Airlines’ Boeing 767 at Easter Island’s Airport

What to bring?

Some people bring their own bike, but you can easly rent one if you cannot take yours to the Island. I rented one that was not particularly good, so I am not going to recommend any place. However, if you walk around Hanga Roa’s downtown, you will find a lot of places to rent bikes (mostly mountain bikes). It may cost around than 20-25 US dollars per day. You might be able to negotiate the rate if you rent it for a couple of days. I got almost a day for free because I rented it for 5 days.

I do not know exactly what are the things you should or have to bring, but I am going to list those that I brought to the Island and carried while biking.

  • Camelbak (3 liters water bag).
  • A spare tube and a couple of tools to change it if needed.
  • Small air pump.
  • Headlight (a strong one! Hanga Roa is very dark at night) and tail light.
  • Rear mudgard (I bought this one before getting to the Island).
  • A bike lock. I would not recommend a U-lock since you sometimes might need to use a tree.
  • Rain poncho and a rain cover for the Camelbak.
  • Lightweight fleece and a spare t-shirt.
  • Somethig to eat!

You will not need to drink as much water as in a dryer weather. I used less than half a liter per hour.

Routes

I biked using what I describe as 4 routes. All of them starting from Hanga Roa. In all of them but route 3 I returned using the same main road. You can see a map of the routes in the next section.

Route 1

This is mainly a coastal road. The main places you can visit following this route are Rano Raraku and Ahu Tongariki. The total length (both legs) is 43 km. Most of the route is flat, although expect a lot of little uphill and downhill parts (see the picture below). At the beginning (thus also at the end) of the route you climb around 100 meters.

Poike, Easter Island

Looking east from the road. The tallest hill is the Poike volcano, the second tallest the Rano Raraku

Rano Raraku, Easter Island

Looking west from Rano Raraku. The tallest hill at the back is the Rano Kau volcano

Route 2

This is an inland road to Anakena, which is a beach that has an Ahu. It is a 38 km total-length road that has a lot of small uphill and downhill parts. On the way back, the first 5 km are an uphill slope (very steep!). That part might take around 30 min if you are going up on the lightest gear.

Route 3

This is a coastal and inland road to Ahu Akivi and Puna Pau. It is a 24 km total-length road. If you start from Hanga Roa to the North, the first half of the route goes rigth next to the ocean. That part is a dirt road in a very bad shape, but that makes it fun. Although you are a couple of meters from the shore, you are not biking right at sea level. You are going up slowly to 100 meters. I spent a lot of time at Ana Kakenga (“Two Windows” cave). I did not go into the cave but walking around the outside of the cave you can have a great view of some cliffs. There is also another cave on this route: Ana Te Pahu. Locals call this cave the “banana trees cave” because, yes, there are banana trees inside the cave.

Next to the Puna Pau there is a hill that is commonly known as the “Three Crosses Hill” because, yes, it has three crosses at the top. That is a really nice hike of less than 150 meters (at the top of the hill you are around 250 meters above the sea level). From the top of it, you have a great view of Hanga Roa and the west coast of the Island. And if you have a cellphone, you get the best signal there!

Puna Pau, Easter Island

Looking northwest from Puna Pau. The hill on the right is the “Three Crosses” hill

Route 4

This is a uphill road to Rano Kau and the Orongo Village. It is a 16 km total-length road. It may take around 40 min to get to the viewpoint of the Rano Kau’s crater. This route is great for the afternoon/evening. You can have really nice views of the ocean and Hanga Roa when the sun is going down.

Map

Below you can see a map with the four routes and some of the main places of the Island. You may want to enlarge the map clicking on the upper right corner.

 

Other Things

  • Cars and bikes: Don’t expect local people to be very bike-friendly. Not many cars leave you a lot of space when they are passing you. From what I observed, most of rented cars will leave you a lot of room when passing you. Locals car will not.
  • Wildlife: Expect to see some small rats crossing in front of you. I counted around 3 per route. Expect to bike through cattle and wild horses everywhere, even next to Hanga Roa. The upside of riding a crappy bike is that its annoying noise would make cows and horses to clear my way. Make sure to identify the bull and stay away from him!
  • Street dogs: Expect to see a lot of street dogs. Being from a country with a lot of dogs walking around the street, I was surprised by the amount of street dogs on the island. I guess that that says that they are a lot. Fortunately, not many of them would bark at bikes or follow them in not a friendly manner. It is like they are lazy enough not to follow anyone. When I was starting route 3 I ran into a dog, a friendly one, that followed me for around an hour (I got a lot of pictures of myself with the dog standing right next to me). Then the dog chose to follow a girl who was doing the same route. I cannot blame the dog for choosing her over me.
  • People: I would not be able to tell who is going to say hi to you when you run into somebody. In my case, people riding rented motorbikes (quads) and horses said hi to me.

Iorana!

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17 thoughts on “Biking around Easter Island

  1. Pingback: How To: Deal with Journal Rejections Thinking About the Easter Island | francisco morales

  2. jeffreychen2013

    GREAT POST ! Marked ! I plan to go there in Jan. next year. Not sure if it’s still good for biking.

    Reply
      1. jeffreychen2013

        Thank you very much for your reply! I have another question though. Since their official language is not English, do you think it’s a problem to communicate in English there ?

    1. Francisco Morales Post author

      Hi!

      I would not be able to comment on the English aspect because I speak Spanish. However, I would assume that you should be fine overall because the island receives a large number of tourists.

      Feel free to send me an email (francisco [dot] morales [at] colorado [dot] edu). I might be able to put you in touch with some locals.

      Reply
  3. jeffreychen2013

    Hi my friend,

    I am just back from Easter Island and it was an amazing trip. I explored the island by bike just as you did and it was a great experience! But unfortunately five days of my six-day visit were all raining and windy so all the things went much more difficult, but, great challenge! And I did enjoy my time on the island. Any way, thank you very much my friend, your post helped me a lot!

    Reply
    1. Francisco Morales Post author

      Thanks for the report! I am glad that the post might have helped organizing our trip. I was surprised there was not much about this when I tried to find information about this before going to the island.

      Reply
  4. Andi

    Did you happen to see any bikes with child seats on the island for rent? My husband and I are traveling with our young daughters (who do not ride), and would love to be able to tour the island this way.

    Reply
    1. Francisco Morales Post author

      You can ask via email maybe. Below is the website of one of the companies that rents cars and bikes. They actually have a trailer for kids. You may want to ask them if they have more than one (and reserve it since I would not expect many more companies having these at all): http://www.rentainsular.cl/

      Reply
  5. Eneko Monzó Contreras

    Hi I’m planning to make the same tour, one question, were did you sleep during your bike trip? Did you find a cheap accommodation around the island?

    Thank you so much.

    I speak Spanish too.

    Reply

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