• Photo: Alexander Chaikin / Shutterstock

Hanga Roa

Hugging the coast on the northwest side is the island’s capital of Hanga Roa. Of the 6,000 residents, about half are indigenous Rapa Nui and the rest from continental Chile or abroad. Few people live outside Hanga Roa because the bulk of the island forms the Rapa Nui National Park or is state owned. The town's two main roads intersect a block from the ocean at a small plaza. Avenida Atamu Tekena, the road which runs the length of the village, is where to find most of the tourist-oriented businesses. Avenida Te Pito o Te Henua begins near the fishing pier and extends two blocks uphill to the church.

Buildings are not numbered and signs nonexistent (street names are sometimes painted on curbstones), so finding a particular building can be frustrating at first. Locals give directions in terms of landmarks, so it's not a bad idea to take a walk around town as soon as you arrive so you can get your bearings. Important landmarks in town are the fishing cove and pier, the Catholic church, the Cruz Verde pharmacy, and the LAN (airline) office. A little farther away to the south and southeast, respectively are the Hanga Pika pier and the airport.

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