Easter Island, Chile: Swimming at Anakena Beach and an Amazing Sunset [Day 4 on Rapa Nui, Part 2]

Views from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

First glimpse of Anakena

After about four hours of riding along the north coast, we finally saw a glimpse of our final destination: the white sand of Anakena.  Doesn’t it look like paradise?  Green grass, black volcanic rocks, white sand, turquoise water, blue sky with dreamy white clouds?

Views from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

Approaching Anakena Beach

Fascinating clouds; approaching Anakena

I glanced up at the sky to see the clouds creating the most interesting patterns, a beautiful gift to a girl who loves clouds.

Anakena Beach

At Anakena Beach

We dismounted our horses at the edge of the beach, after seeing our guides’ younger brother, here with a group of friends, celebrating the end of the school year.  As it was Saturday, the beach was busy, even more so with recent high school graduates who camped out in the nearby campground with their friends.  I couldn’t wait to get on the beach and explore the ahu.

Ahu at Anakena Beach

Seven restored moai

The restored moai of Anakena are well-known due to their location at the only white sand beach on the island, a picturesque (and highly photogenic) place with green hills, palm trees, and the turquoise sea in the background.

Ahu at Anakena Beach

View of the moai with the ocean in the background

It’s interesting to visit the moai as an amazing, fascinating place while Rapa Nui residents are enjoying the location solely for its beach.  For us, it is a dream to see these statues; for residents, they may not even remember their presence on a normal summer day, when the cool, clear water beckons!

Views of Anakena Beach

Ahu at Anakena Beach

View of the hills and a moai in restoration; the main ahu of Anakena

After photographing the moai, my travel companion and I decided to get in the water.  We only had a short while to enjoy the beach before being picked up for our return to Hanga Roa.  Luckily, just as each moment of this trip was charmed, they somehow knew we’d need more time and did not come at the arranged time, which was good, because we lost track of time in the water.  After a long, hot day in the sun, it was nice to be able to cool off, swim around, and once again take a moment to appreciate the amazing surroundings.  After a while, my friend did a bit of snorkeling while I enjoyed a snack, sitting on the beach and observing people from afar.

Finally, the owner and his wife came to pick us up and drive us back across the island.  They were happy to hear that we’d had such a good time with their sons, and we asked them to thank them for us, since they’d already returned with the horses.

After getting back to Hanga Roa, we decided that we weren’t quite ready for the adventure to end, so we decided to meet up again after a quick shower and rest to trek up the north coast to view the sunset from an interesting location.  It was a very good decision.  This was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen.

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

We walked past Ahu Tahai and Hanga Kioe, and continued along the north coast. We were tempted to reach a cliff a little in the distance, but I spotted a nice cove where the view of the sunset would be unobstructed and we’d have an easier exit to the main road in the dark. We were the only people out there, and I wanted to be sure we didn’t get lost!

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

I still remember how I felt watching that sunset, even though it’s been six months. It felt like everything made sense at that moment; I was living my dream of visiting Rapa Nui, watching a gorgeous sunset, in the middle of nowhere, with a great companion for conversation. How cool is your life when you can do these things?

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

It made everything I’d been through to get to that moment absolutely worth it. It is all always worth it; it’s just harder at some moments than others. But these moments are rewards for patience and perseverance.

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

After enjoying the amazing sunset, I knew to linger on to watch how the sky would change afterwards.  Just as I suspected, the remaining light played with the clouds in the sky and started to paint them in shades of pink, peach, purple, and other pastels.

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

And then the colors deepened and grew richer.  (You can see the moon appearing at the top of the next photo.)

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

A beautiful pink sky, glowing orange and yellow near the horizon. Absolutely amazing.

Sunset from the North Coast of Rapa Nui

As the sky changed, we had started walking back towards town.  After pulling out my SLR camera to capture these pink moments, I suddenly realized that my point-and-shoot camera was missing. I’d taken it in and out of my camera case several times while removing the other, and somehow it had slipped away from me. I thought maybe I’d left it in the cove where we’d been sitting, but when we went back to check, it wasn’t there. Night kept falling, and neither of us had brought a flashlight, so I had to let it be, to accept the fact that I might have lost the photos of my entire day horseback riding. I decided to get up early the next day to head back out there to look again, and to not let this ruin a beautiful evening.

We walked back to the main road, and as we were following it into town, a bit disoriented in the dark landscape, a car approached us. Its driver, a friendly woman who lived in Hanga Roa, offered us a ride, but informed us that she did not really know how to drive the manual transmission car. We had a great chat and lots of laughs as the car stalled along the way, and the ride completely saved us a long walk back! From there, my friend and I decided to get dinner at the same sandwich shop we’d visited a few nights before, and then went to another bar, Dominican, on Rapa Nui, where they were playing live reggae music in Spanish and in Rapa Nui. It was a perfect way to end a long, very interesting day.

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