Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the world, and its isolation is also reflected in its underwater world. Scuba diving on Easter Island is completely different than diving anywhere else.
Easter Island diving
At first glance, as soon as you hit the water, you realize how blue and clear it is – visibility can reach up to 200 feet or 60 meters on a great day.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you will be able to spot or hear some whales on their migration routes.
This crystal clear water here is mostly due Easter Island’s isolation. When you visit Easter Island, you’ll see that there are no major rivers to carry run-off, and little development means not much human destruction has affected scuba diving on Easter Island.
The water temperature is roughly 65°F or 18°C all year long. Easter Island diving is a little cold, for sure. But a 5 mm suit will probably be OK.
You won’t find many colorful fish and coral reefs in these waters, but there are around 160 species of animals, many of which are endemic to Easter Island. These are mostly small creatures.
In fact, the largest common animal in the waters surrounding Easter Island is the green sea turtle. They sometimes come up into Hanga Roa Harbor to the delight of many excited tourists hanging out by the shoreline.
All of the dive sites on Easter Island are very close to Hanga Roa Harbor, where your dive boat will depart. Boat rides to the dive sites will be less than five minutes, so you don’t have to wait too long before hitting the water.
Dive shops on Easter Island
There are only a handful of well-established dive shops on Easter Island. In the capital of Hanga Roa, there are two shops:
Both of these Easter Island dive shops are next to the main dock. Not far from here – close to Ahu Tahai, you’ll find another two:
Mike Rapu Dive Center is the shop I chose to go with during my visit. They provide great, professional service for any of your diving needs.
Easter Island Dive Sites
I felt enormously privileged to be able to spend four days scuba diving on Easter Island with Mike Rapu. Sure, there were no sharks and no big animal life here. But it’s so different than anywhere else that those differences were what made it special! So, what are the highlights of Easter Island diving?
Here are some of my favorite Easter Island dive sites.
1. Acantilado (Cliff)
The typical underwater landscape of Easter Island mostly consists of bare volcanic limestone and colonies of young corals growing on it. This is a true description of the Cliff dive site.
Acantilado is a great introduction to Easter Island diving.
2. The Moai Site
I must admit that, although most would consider the Moai site to be a scuba diving tourist trap, it’s a trap most people will be glad they fell into!
For months prior to my trip – I came here to run the Easter Island Marathon – I had a picture of the mysterious submerged Moai as the background wallpaper on my work computer. I had been wanderlusting about my journey based on this one National Geographic Easter Island photograph.
So, as you might guess, diving the Moai site was one of the highlights of my Easter Island trip!
This Easter Island statue is medium-size Moai – about 25 feet high. It’s slightly tilted upwards on a volcanic rock, and has started to be covered by blotches of native coral. If you’re open water certified, this site is within reach. It’s less than 30 feet/9 meters deep. Believe me, it is worth the effort to dive here!
There are a few versions of how this Moai ended up here. My divemaster informed me that it was part of the Kevin Costner movie Rapa Nui, and was donated after the filming and subsequently submerged into Hanga Roa Harbor.
People always ask whether it’s a real Moai. The answer is, of course, yes! Perhaps it wasn’t carved by the ancient Rapa Nui people, but it is still a Moai! And it’s the only one of the hundreds of Easter Island statues that you’ll find underwater.
3. Motu Nui
Motu Nui is one of the inhabited islets off the coast of Easter Island. The people of Rapa Nui view these small islands as sacred places and any underwater life must remain undisturbed.
The site looks different than the rest of the sites – Motu Nui has smooth, grey rocks throughout the site. When Jaques Costeau visited Easter Island in the 1970s, he dove on this very spot.
4. The Cathedral
One of the most famous lava tubes on Easter Island, Matu Tuatara, is located on the cliff just above this dive site. And if you want to dive through a lava tube, you’re in luck. You can dive a series of overhead structures and caverns that seem to mimic a cathedral’s flying buttresses.
Keep in mind that the current at the Cathedral dive site on Easter Island can be strong at times. You have to be comfortable diving in small caverns and tubes with currents that sway you from side to side.
Get scuba certified on Easter Island!
Have you always wanted to scuba dive? If you’re planning on a visit to Easter Island, then here’s your chance. First, make sure that you include diving in your itinerary. Then, go to one of the Easter Island scuba shops and sign up for a course.
I highly recommend Mike Rapu Diving Center because I truly enjoyed my diving with them. They emphasize fun and safety at all times. Not only can Mike Rapu get you certified as a beginning scuba diver with their open water course. They can also do higher-level certifications, like Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver.
You can even become a Divemaster on Easter Island!
Mike Rapu includes rental gear for a fee. The more you dive with them, the bigger the discounts they will give you on rental gear. If you’re going in a group, ask for group discount.
Enjoy your dives!
Caleta Hanga Roa O’tai
Isla de Pascua, Chile
P: (56 32) 2551055
For more on Easter Island, check out our Unusual things to do on Easter Island post.
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