Rapa Nui

explora RAPA NUI

Rapa Nui

Long before Europeans were able to sail the high seas, skilled Polynesian mariners had already ventured far into the ocean, exploring and colonizing even the most remote Pacific islands, among them Rapa Nui. Hundreds of years passed before new explorers reached the island; this time they were European travelers.

“This is the farthest we have come”, the well-traveled Captain Cook wrote in his journal, when he reached the island in 1774.

The island’s remoteness, stunning geography and rich culture led UNESCO to declare Rapa Nui a world heritage site in 1995.

rapa-nui-3Rapa Nui


The name given to the island in ancient times continues to be a mystery. Three possible alternatives exist: “Te Pito o te Henúa”, which means “navel of the world”; “Te Pito o te Kainga”, which translates as “the womb”; and “Mata ki te rangi”, or, “eyes that watch the sky”.

Easter Island is the name given by the Dutch mariner Jacob Roggeveen, who arrived there on Easter Sunday in 1722.

During the 19th century, western mariners named the island Rapa Nui (Big Island), because of its similarity to Rapa Iti island, situated 5,000 kilometers (3,106 miles) to the west.

Notable explorations of Rapa Nui

1722: Jacob Roggeveen, Dutch mariner
1770: Felipe González y Aedo, Spanish mariner
1774: James Cook, British explorer
1786: Conde de La Pèrouse, French explorer
1955: Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer