Rapa Nui Crafts & Shopping
The Rapa Nui crafts and souvenirs available in Easter Island are diverse and range from cheap necklaces or key rings to authentic works of art made of stone and wood whose value can reach several thousand dollars.
Most of the shops are on the main street and the street leading from the Holy Cross Church to the coast. In practically all of them you can find typical Polynesian shirts and sarongs, small moai replicas, and other handicrafts. The largest venue that offers the greatest variety is the Crafts Market, to the left of the church, which is open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00 and 17:00 to 20:00 (some stands open on Sundays at the end of Mass at 9:00 am). Half of the food market stalls also sell handicrafts on Hanga Roa’s main street.
In Anakena and Tahai there are usually a couple of craft stalls, mostly selling stone and wooden carvings. The prices are quite similar everywhere, and although haggling is not common, you can try it; especially in the craft market or if you’re buying several pieces. This can be useful, especially if we consider that the overall prices in Easter Island are not cheap, even for a tax-free place.
The best sculptors and carvers on the island often have their own stores, and it’s there where the better quality works can be found. Although, in many cases, the prices can be substantially higher than what the visitor expects.
Among the main pieces of wooden Rapa Nui handicrafts, the Moai Kava Kava (figures with protruding ribs and a starved appearance), Rongo Rongo tablets (ancient Rapa Nui writing), Rei Miro (crescent pectoral with human heads at its ends), Moko (representation of a lizard), and Ao (leadership cane in the shape of a paddle with two rowing ends) stand out.
There is also a type of “vegetable craft”, made with plantain bark and feathers and decorated with seashells, with which the clothing used in folkloric dances are made.
You can also find simpler things with more of a Polynesian style, such as necklaces, rings, earrings and other decorations made out of seashells or flowers. Though many crafts made out of coral are available, their purchase is not recommended in order to avoid that it keeps being taking out of the sea.