Located thousands of miles off the Chilean coast, Rapa Nui is geographically one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, which means huge swell windows in multiple directions and unfettered fetch potential. Add to that the fact that the island houses the remnants of one of the most mysterious and intriguing lost cultures in human history, and you have a surf destination that is as unique as it is isolated.
The Surf: Long interval swells and shallow reefs equal big, heavy, Hawaiian style waves, making Rapa Nui an advanced to expert destination.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Papa Tangaroa: A heavy barreling peak breaking both ways, this wave is about as gnarly as they come, and it gets big.
- Mataveri: This heavy left point can handle size, involves a heavy paddle out, and is said to resemble G-land when its on—all reasons to check it out, if you have the skills and gumption to handle it.
- Papa Hanga Roa: One of Rapa Nui’s more user-friendly waves, this reef peak can offer rides in both directions, but lacks the life threatening heft of Tangaroa.
- Motu Hava: Another rippable reef peak that offers both lefts and rights.
- Tahai: This heavy, deep-water right is a legitimate big wave spot and provides long rides.
The Water: Clean, cobalt blue and relatively warm, the water surrounding Rapa Nui ranges from 68–77 F (10–25 C).
The Season: While large south swells are most consistent between May and September, Rapa Nui also takes north swell, meaning November through February can be good as well.
The Vibe: Rapa Nui is far from crowded, but the locals are still protective of their spots, and everyone appreciates a bit of respect.
Things To Do: Rapa Nui is world famous for its moai, the large stone heads found all over the island. Leftover remnants of a lost culture, it is believed the creation of the moai was partially responsible for the deforestation that eventually led to the decline of the island’s indigenous society. Noteworthy for both historical and environmental reasons, these stone statues are the reason most people visit the island.
Where To Stay: There are three main hotels, with the rest of your accommodation options being the various guest houses on the island. Prices vary, and can range from $25–150+ per night.
What To Bring: Big boards with pin tails. Big wave leashes and all the accessories you anticipate needing. A spring suit (or warmer) during winter. Booties, a helmet and any other heavy wave gear you can think to bring. A pair of lungs and a bigger pair of balls. A pocket full of cash, as Rapa Nui can be a bit pricey.
Getting There: LAN Airlines flies into Mataveri International Airport from Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile. Tourist visas are available in Chile upon arrival (either in Santiago or on Rapa Nui if you are flying in from Lima). Airport code: IPC.