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The only town on the island. It is the capital and constitutes the primary gateway to Easter Island (Rapa Nui).
Hanga Roa is on the southwestern part of the island between the Maunga Terevaka and the Rano Kau extinct volcanoes. The town has about 3.300 inhabitants. You may add several hundred tourists to this number. So, the temporary number of residents might be around 4.000 people at any given time.
Hanga Roa's population has a share of 87 % of the island's total population. There are several houses scattered, especially on the southwestern part of the island, north and northeast of the town.
It seems like mass tourism is going to lead to the degradation of this mysterious island. More and more visitors are arriving and newer, better accommodation services are appearing. Luxury hotels with swimming pools are already present here... Internet is not a major problem either and the local restaurants and entertainment facilities are also improving their services.
From Hanga Roa, you'll find your way easily to the volcano of Rano Kau, the Orongo ruins site, Ana Kai Tangata (a cave with pictographics), the site of Ahu Tahai (to the north of the town) and several other ahu statue platforms towards the east of the island.
All main roads are reachable from Hanga Roa town. You can walk on foot, take a bus, hire a car or bike, etc. Transportation means are various.
You might be surprised to see cows and horses on the green hills of the island. You might think you're in Denmark! If you're a European or North American, you will find the sight comforting...
Local language on the island and so in Hanga Roa too is the Rapa Nui, but Spanish is official. Some locals speak English too, but would be a good idea to learn a few expressions in Spanish in order to communicate better.
Now let's take a little look at the history of the little town...
In 1914 only 250 people lived in Hanga Roa. Today only a small portion of the population has indigenous roots. Many have moved in from other Polynesian islands and South America (Chile, Peru, etc.).
Nowadays most travelers arrive to the island by airplane to the only airport located near the town. Most planes come to Mataveri International Airport from Santiago, Chile. The runway was built long enough to accommodate NASA's shuttles in case of emergency and this measure has boosted tourism.
There are good air connections several times a week to Tahiti and Santiago.
Travelling by ship is a less popular way to get to Easter Island, but very few tourists arrive here this way. Hanga Roa has the only place with ports on the island.
Hanga Roa's main avenue is the Avenida Atamu Te Kena/Tekena (initially Avenida Policarpo Toro), which is located in the centre of the town.
You will find many stores, hotels, restaurants, there is also a pharmacy (the only one on the island) and a supermarket.
The first name of the avenue was that of a Chilean naval captain who annexed Easter Island to Chile in 1888. In 1998, the avenue was renamed after Atamu Te Kena, a local hero who lived in the 19th century.
In Hanga Roa there also are discos, a stadium called Estadio de Hanga Roa and internet cafes.
If you need to obtain cash, there are ATMs where you can use your credit card.
Therefore communicating with the rest of the World and changing currency won't be too difficult.
In the centre of the town you will find the island's museum and a Roman Catholic church.
There are several moai near Hanga Roa, but some of them were actually moved there from their original location. The most interesting moai sites are scattered across the island.
Unfortunately some of the moai statues and other archaeological findings have been vandalized by foreign tourists.
Touching the statues is illegal, climbing on them can get you a heavy fine. Some tourists in the past have broken down pieces or tried to take parts of the archaeological objects home. This type of vandalism is harshly punished with heavy fines and many years in jail.
Make sure you admire the archaeological sites and act responsibly.
The port of Hanga Roa is an interesting place. Some photographers come here to immortalize fishermen's boats, the coloured houses that are along the coast...
If you don't want to walk around, but join a guided tour, then you will find guides who speak English, Spanish, French and German.
Location on the map