Rollicking festival celebrates Easter Island from February 3-11 with local artists and athletes embracing the island’s cultural and sporting traditions
Let other cultures trumpet Valentine’s-style romance during the early days of February – on Easter Island in the South Pacific, it’ll be all Tapati, all the time. An island-wide tradition dating back nearly four decades, the Tapati is a celebration of Rapa Nui pride, poise, coordination, and creativity, with close to 40 cultural and sporting competitions drawing local inhabitants and visitors alike. And there is no better way to experience and learn about the mysterious culture than at Explora Rapa Nui.
After a two-year pause, the festival, a deep dive into all things Rapa Nui, is about to start on February 3, and will last nine days. The cultural and athletic festival regularly attracts thousands of travelers who arrive to appreciate the competitions as well as to take part in the living traditions of Easter Island. At Explora Rapa Nui, travelers enjoy well-designed accommodations and an excellent base from which to explore the beauty and mystery of the most remote destination on Earth.
They can jump right into the excitement, participating in Tapati events along with Explora staff – including some of the best-trained guides in the expedition travel business. Indeed, in previous Tapati celebrations, several members of the hotel staff practiced for weeks for the festival’s dance competitions and even made their own costumes using bamboo, feathers, and the peel of a banana tree.
Dancing is just the start. The Tapati also includes events such as Vaka Tuai, with teams crafting a reed canoe to be sailed by their candidate; Takona, with islanders painting their bodies with natural pigments; the Tau’a triathlon; Haka Pei, which sees participants sliding downhill on banana trunks at up to 50 mph; the swimming competition, A’ati Kau Pa ari; and Mata Oru, also known as “submarine hunting.”
The team that chalks up the highest overall score wins, and their candidate is named the queen of the Tapati.