Easter Island, locally known as Rapa Nui, has long been known for its interesting stone heads that seem to have been planted on the earth. In fact, more than 75,000 travelers each year venture on its island every year just to get a glimpse of these curious formations. However, this remote and inhabited Polynesian island has become more than just that. Today, it is fast becoming a top destination for people who are in love with the sport of surfing.
Looking back at the lifestyle of the early people in Rapa Nui, the settlers were all about living their lives off the sea. They constructed crude surfboards which they used for fishing and traveling. But it was not until the 1990s that this island has made its way into the surfing radar. Since then, surfing pros have already tested their skills in battling some of the biggest and most ferocious waves in the world.
Surfing in Rapa Nui is year round. But the best time of the year to visit the island and surf is during its winter months of January and February. This is that time when the waters are rugged and pristine and the skies are clear and blue. Otherwise, you will have to be vigilant on shifting winds as well as that of the irregular rain cloud. You will also have to track the tides, when the tides are low; the rocky shoreline gets exposed so it would be best to surf during the high seas.
If you are someone who is yet to join the ranks of the pros, head over to the shallow waters at Pea Beach located near the town center of Hangaroa. Its waters perfectly tumble during high tides and your friends can be your spectators as you battle your first wave. This will also be a good area for experienced surfers to master their tricks and flips.
The island also offers informal surfing classes. One of the best places to get some tips and pointers is in a shack located beside the tourist information centre in Hangaroa. This “surfing school” is run by Mai Teao, local surf pro and instructor. Aside from the actual surfing classes, the students will also be oriented with the history of the island. Mai Teao will bring to life its surfing history and even throw in some of its interesting legend, myths, and practices.
Overall, Rapa Nui is a place where you can practically pick the kind of adventure that you wish to embark on, tailoring your surfing experience to your skills. Experienced and professional surfers should find great pleasure riding the waves on the south side of the boomerang-shaped island, especially the bays of Papa Tangaroa and Paka Ai.
There are also very good waves on the island’s west side, comparable to the swells found in Indonesia. These are the ones in the bays of Mata Veri and Tahai. Mata Veri has waves that will be perfect for surfers who would want something a little more adventurous to improve their surfing styles. They swells on this side of the island are very high, giving plenty of air time before they zigzag towards the shore. Each of the waves in Rapa Nui offers a different kind of adventure.