Travels to a lonely island: Rapanui & Bora-Bora

Rapanui (Easter Island) & Bora Bora, by way of Santiago, Chile and Tahiti

Feb 18-28, 2002

Easter Island, famous for the statues (called “Moai”) that are scattered along the entire perimeter of the island, just happens to be quite literally the most remote inhabited island on the planet. It’s a long way from anywhere – about 2,400 miles west of the coast of Chile, and some 2,500 miles east of Tahiti. The islander’s nearest neighbors are on Pitcairn Island, some 1,400 miles to the west. So, you don’t just hop a cab to get there.

Actually, given its location, it’s surprisingly easy to get there. You can’t get a taxi, but you can get a commercial airliner. Lan Chile has flights into and out of Easter Island twice a week. It’s a refueling stop on the way from Chile to Tahiti, French Polynesia, so they actually fly 767’s into Easter Island – the runway is quite large and modern, due to its designation as an emergency landing sight for the space shuttle. (Guess it makes sense – if the shuttle suddenly just had to come down in that part of the world, there weren’t a lot of choices – it’s either Easter Island or the ocean).

So we had to fly to Chile first. And since we were already going halfway there, well, we decided we might as well make a trip out of it and go on to Tahiti. And well, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Tahiti to Bora Bora, so that’s where we ended up.

So, there we are, in Bora Bora, not too far from New Zealand, in the other hemisphere, halfway round the world from home. There is a direct flight from Tahiti to LAX, and from there back to Denver. But, we were doing the frequent flyer thing. Rather than burn a zillion more miles for one way tickets back home, we decided to do all round trips and return via the same route we left.

Now, going out wasn’t so bad, because we stopped overnight, or for a few days, here and there, and broke up the flying a bit. But the return Bora-Bora->Tahiti->Easter Island->Santiago->Atlanta->Dallas->Denver->Boulder (24 hours or so of actual flight time, closer to 48 hours of unbroken time in planes and airports) was a bit, well, long.

Next time, I might just burn the frequent flyer miles.

Santiago, Chile

Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia