Easter Island (also known locally as Rapa Nui) is one of the most interesting locations in the world due to its mysterious history and remoteness.
But its unique position as a boundary for major geographic areas like Polynesia and Oceania also makes it an interesting location to study.
Below, I will give you an insight into where the island is located and talk about some of the interesting facts related to its unique position on the globe!
Where is Easter Island?
Easter Island is located about 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile and 2,500 miles east of Tahiti. At only 64 square miles (about ten times the size of Oahu), it’s very easy to get around, which is another reason why it remains one of the most remote islands in the world.
In fact, the area is so remote and located so close to Point Nemo (the furthest point from land), that NASA actually set up an emergency landing strip on the island!
The GPS coordinates of Easter Island are: 27.1127° N, 109.3497° Wmeaning that Easter Island is directly south of Chiricahua National Monument near Tucson, Arizona.
Its latitude also means that the island is just below the “tropical zone” and falls under a subtropical climate. So compared to a place like Hawaii, the temperatures actually get much colder with lows dropping into the low 60s in the winter.
If you want to visit Easter Island by plane, chances are you’ll be flying through Santiago, Chile. Since Easter Island is considered a special territory of Chile, this means that it is treated as a domestic flight.
Before arriving on the island, you must meet certain requirements and present special documents, and you can read more about them here.
Easter Island related content:
Interesting facts about the location of Easter Island
That makes a corner of Polynesia
The geographic region of Polynesia is usually represented as a large triangle that stretches across the vast Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to Hawaii to Easter Island. It covers a huge part of the ocean and over 1,000 islands.
Easter Island (also called Rapa Nui) marks the easternmost corner of the Polynesian triangle (which is appropriate considering that the island also takes on a triangular shape).
Easter Island is believed by some to have been the last corner of Polynesia to be settled by humans, although exactly when this happened is debated.
This means that if you were to follow the normal route of human migration out of Africa and through Asia, Easter Island might have been the last and/or most distant destination reached in the worldwide expansion of humanity over the past 200,000 years.
The easternmost point of Oceania
Another interesting fact about the location of Easter Island is that it is located on the easternmost point of Oceania.
It’s worth noting that not everyone agrees on exactly what constitutes Oceania.
In fact, people don’t even agree on whether Oceania is a continent or not!
At the very least, Oceania is the region that makes up much of the South and North Pacific Oceans. This would include: Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
You have to head to the east side of the island at Poike, near an area called Cape Cumming to see this point.
This is a fairly remote area of the island and I’m not sure if it’s accessible, although if you go with a knowledgeable local guide they can probably help you get there (or very close).
Since that point represents the easternmost point of Oceania, it would also be the easternmost point of Polynesia.
The westernmost point in Chile and all of South America
Because Easter Island is in the middle of nowhere and is part of Chile, it represents the westernmost point of Chile and all of South America.
In particular, this point is located in Motu Nui, which was an important site for the Tangata manu (“Birdman”) cult. It looks like such a small piece of rock, but it is actually part of a 6000+ foot mountain that is covered by the sea.
You can get a great view of Motu Nui when you visit the ancient village of Orongo perched atop the dormant Rano Kau volcano. Or, if you want to get closer to this point, you can take a boat tour or potentially even dive or snorkel.
Easter Island has quite a fascinating history and its geography is also quite interesting.
Once you understand where the island is geographically, you realize how remote this place really is.
It’s also really cool to think about its position as a boundary marker for vast geographic areas, despite being such a small place.
Daniel Gillaspia is the founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time rewards/travel expert who has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the world. Since 2014, his content appears in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News and Business Insider. Find his full biography here.