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Rapa Nui dresses up for Tapati

The annual Easter Island festival takes place from the first weekend of February: Tapati Rapa Nui. During this festival, ancient island traditions that the ancestors of the island used to perform are celebrated. More here about this amazing Polynesian party.


A Rapa Nui triathlon and a body painting competition are some of the spectacles that can be seen during the most traditional festival of Easter Island: the Tapati Rapa Nui. Next February 2019, edition 51st  of the festival will be held.

Originally, during Tapati a Spring party was celebrated.  Today, a queen of the island is chosen, and the winners of each competition are determined by scores. Once each family makes their nomination official, they begin months of intense work. Some groups prepare with even one year in advance. However, the most important thing is to represent the strength of the family and how experts are those competing.

Carving contest ©Mike


In total, there are more than 40 competitions that make up the Tapati challenges. One of the most important is the Tau’a Rapa Nui, a kind of triathlon where the best athletes are measured. In it, rival teams compete in demanding challenges; such as a totora canoe race. For more than 15 years,  the champion of this challenge in the adult category is Tumaheke Duran Veri Veri  who remains unbeaten.

Another activity that catches the attention of visitors is the horse race. It takes place on the dirt road of Vaihu, an ancient ceremonial settlement 10 km from Hanga Roa.

For the Rapa Nui people, Tapati is the most important cultural festival of the year. In addition, it is a celebration where tourists who visit the island can be part of.  During the allegorical car competition, called Nari Nari, travellers who want to paint their bodies and participate in the parade can join in.

Painted bodies in Tapati ©Claudio Alvarado


Indeed, there is a hectic atmosphere throughout the course of the festival. In the evenings there are huge parties called Hare Mauku, where everyone joins in.   Being two weeks of intense activities, the islanders put special emphasis on recycling, locating containers so the island remains impeccable after the festival.  This year 2019 the celebration opens on February 1st until the 16th.

During Tapati it is recommended to have an extended stay on the island (about 6 or 7 days at least), to be able to participate in the activities of the festival.  which is why at Hotel Hangaroa we have taken the measures of adapting the schedules of the excursion according to the Tapati calendar and therefore, our guests can enjoy the true experience of this Polynesian party.