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The Easter Island Caves: an underground world


Easter Island is home to a large number of caves. If they were lined up, end to end, they would stretch along to almost 10 kilometers, converting them into one of the largest underground areas in the world. Would you like to know more about these ancient Polynesian caves and what they were used for in ancient times? Today, in our blog, we reveal all…

 

 

A visit to Easter Island is about so much more than seeing the Moai. This territory is home to a large number of underground caves. Within the boundaries of its 165 square kilometres of land, Easter Island has a series of caves that, if put together, would stretch along for almost 10 kilometers, which is actually a world record. It’s believed that these spaces have existed for hundreds of years and that they contain the key to a great part of the Rapa Nui history.

Owing to its large number of volcanoes, Easter Island is blessed with the exact conditions needed to form natural caves, but the constant lapping of the waves, and the natural erosion that this generates, has also, no doubt, helped to form these caves. So, what were these caves used for during the very first eras of the Rapa Nui and which are the ones that you really must see with your own eyes? Keep reading…

 

The first king

Legend has it that the first king, Hotu Matu’a, lived in a cave close to Anakena Beach. It was from this cave that the Rapa Nui civilization was born, including its traditions and line of descendants.

 

Multiple uses

During ancient times, the caves were primarily used as homes, but this was not their sole function. They were also educational hubs, in which the elder generation would hand down knowledge and understanding to the young. The caves were also employed as greenhouses for the cultivation of fruit, and as cemeteries from which the community’s forefathers could be honored.

 

Ana Kai Tangata: the queen of the caves

This cave, close to Hanga Roa, is one of the most visited. It measures five meters high and 15 meters deep. It’s one of the places on the island from which some of the best examples of prehistoric paintings can be appreciated, particularly those that feature the Manutara, a sacred bird within the Rapa Nui culture.

 

Ana Kakenga: the cavern overlooking the sea

This cave is actually a volcanic tube, measuring 50 meters in length. It’s located a little outside of the center of Hanga Roa. As you make your way through the cave, you’ll come across an incredible site: two large natural windows, 30 meters above the ground, that look out toward the sea.

 

If you’d like to visit the Easter Island caves, you can make your reservation at Hotel Hangaroa.