More useful information
Trying overtake the horses on the road
Easter Island is a pretty safe place. All of the islanders know each other and crimes against tourists are almost inexistent. In any case, it is useful not to leave valuables abandoned, just in case.
Walking at night in Hanga Roa or secondary streets is not a problem; although it should be noted that the island has very few light posts, so it can be helpful to bring a flashlight to prevent yourself from tripping.
There are stray dogs everywhere which are generally very friendly. In fact, it is not surprising that one or some may “adopt” a visitor and join them for a whole day excursion. They are usually not dangerous, but if you need to scare them this will be easy.
As for the horses that roam freely around the island, you have to be careful if you travel by car or other vehicles, because they can cross the road without warning and cause accidents. It is wise to slow down when there are horses nearby in order to have an appropriate reaction time if necessary.
The tap water on Easter Island is drinkable, so drinking is completely safe. It comes from freshwater reservoirs located under the porous volcanic rocks. It’s purified in the island’s purification plant and tested daily by the hospital.
However, you can buy bottled water in all of the shops in case you have any qualms about drinking it.
There are no dangerous animals or risk of catching malaria or dengue on the island, so the visitor can rest easy.
If medical attention is needed, there is a hospital. It is not highly complex, so severely injured patients should be flown to Santiago de Chile.
The only pharmacy on the island, Cruz Verde, is located on the main street. It’s large and usually quite well stocked.
Throughout Chile the voltage is 220V and plugs are two round pins. Hanga Roa has electricity 24 hours a day.
Easter Island is two hours behind mainland Chile and follows the summer time change rule. Although due to its geographical location the island should be three or four hours behind the mainland, it has a smaller time difference with Santiago to facilitate the management of banks and government offices. As a result, the sun rises and sets relatively late.
Easter Island doesn’t have the frenetic rhythm of the big cities, so nothing opens too early. Most stores open at 9:30 or 10:00 am. Lunchtime is another example of the peaceful life of the people; generally everything closes at 14:00, and there’s no notable movement until 17:00 or later.
Although many shops close at 20:00, some of the mini markets are open until 22:00 and even 24:00, so stocking up after a full day outing will not be a problem. Some shops and many of the craft market stalls open on Sundays after the 9:00 a.m. Mass.
The post offices, the only place where you can buy stamps, open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 18:00 and Saturday mornings. Here you can also ask (in exchange for a tip) for them to place the exclusive Easter Island stamps in your passport.
The SERNATUR office (Chilean National Tourism Service) is on the northwest coastal road in front of Pea beach. There you can get a map and details to contact guides or information on specific activities, though is not common for them to give out too many details.
The people and language
Less than half of the island’s current population is Rapa Nui, most are mainland Chilean and there are a few foreign residents.
Given Chile’s sovereignty over the island, the official language is Spanish but the Rapa Nui also speak Rapa Nui, a Polynesian language closely linked to Tahitian and New Zealand Maori.