Vaihu – Ahu Hanga Te’e
Vaihu is one of the places where the “remote” characteristic of Easter Island, makes more sense. The bay of Hanga Te’e, 10 kilometers away from Hanga Roa, is framed by cliffs where the waves of the ocean break furiously modeling the landscape.
A great ceremonial platform
About 150 meters from the access to the site, there is an ancient settlement composed of a large ceremonial platform. This large ahu, whose rear retaining wall is semicircular in shape, measures 86 meters long and 12 meters wide and supported eight statues that now lie on the ground face down.
This place, which has not been restored, is a good example of the so-called huri moai period or demolition of the moai, which took place from the eighteenth century as a result of internal struggles between the different clans of the island.
Around the ahu, there are some pukao or volcanic red stone headdresses that crowned the statues. Some of them rolled to the coast and were recovered a few decades ago.
In front of the platform, on the ground, there is a large circle of stones about 10 meters in diameter called paina. In other times, in its interior certain commemorative rituals were performed to honor different members of the family.
Near the ahu there are other interesting archaeological remains. One of them is a puna or water pond built at the time of the Exploiting Company at the beginning of the 20th century, and from where the name of Vaihu comes, meaning “place of water”.
To the left of the road that leads to the ahu, you can see a solitary moai, which after being buried for a long time, was rescued and erected again in 2002.
For centuries Vaihu has been a privileged place for human settlement due to its easy access to the sea. At present, the small cove is still used as a small fishing port. The locals also come here to spend the weekend. They fish on the shore and then prepare a tunu ahi where they cook the fish on hot stones while sharing as a family.
A hippodrome for a day
During the celebration of the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival, which takes place the first half of February, the wide dirt road of Vaihu, which runs parallel to the coast, is transformed for a day, into a long horse racing track. That day, you can see some very young jockeys riding bareback and at high speed, while being cheered by those attending this unique and remote equestrian event.
How to get to Vaihu
To arrive by vehicle from Hanga Roa, take Hotu Matu’a Avenue towards Anakena, then turn right at the crossroads indicating the road to Rano Raraku and continue for approximately 6 kilometers. It is recommended to do it with a local guide or tour. This way you get better information and collaborate with the conservation of the place.