A pinprick of land in the vast Pacific Ocean, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui, as it’s known locally) is about as far-flung as islands come. Its isolated setting has made it an enduring enigma for travelers keen to discover more about its mysterious moai statues and intriguing lost civilizations. It may be a territory of Chile, but with the mainland over 2,000 miles away, Easter Island feels likes a whole other world.
Its nearest inhabited neighbors, the Pitcairn Islands, are around 1,250 miles away and attract even less tourists, though the rewards for the intrepid few that make it here – pristine ocean environments, stunning tropical scenery and thriving coral reefs – are plentiful. The Pitcairns’ nearest neighbors, meanwhile, are the islands of French Polynesia, which, with their spotless beaches, aqua lagoons and leisurely pace of life, are as close as reality gets to paradise.
If you want to explore this out-of-the-way South Pacific island and the neighboring archipelagos, it is possible to travel between French Polynesia and Easter Island by cruise ship.
Follow the path of the Royal Navy’s HMS Bounty, whose mutineers settled on the Pitcairn Islands
See endemic bird species on the uninhabited UNESCO-listed Henderson Island
Snorkel with sharks (of the harmless variety!) off the shore of Bora Bora
Spot whales and dolphins from the ship’s deck
Tour Easter Island with experts to find out more about the long-lost civilization that created the island’s iconic carved stone statues
Most cruises begin or end in Santiago, Chile. If you plan on tacking on an extra few days in the Chilean capital, consider making the uber-chic Aubrey Hotel your base. Situated at the foot of Cerro San Cristóbal, this boutique hotel occupies a 1927-built mansion that was once the home of a prominent politician and railway tycoon. Most of the spacious rooms come with their own private patio, terrace or balcony, and there’s a heated outdoor pool.
Overlooking the waterfront of Hanga Roa, Te Moana is often touted as being the finest fish restaurant on Easter Island. A seafood-heavy menu includes the likes of ceviche and seared tuna steak with sesame seed crust. Time your visit for sunset to take advantage of the expansive ocean vistas.
Banish any residual stress during a mid-cruise Polynesian spa pampering session that incorporates Pacific island-grown ingredients such as vanilla and tamanu oil.