History of Hanga Piko
Hanga Piko means “Hidden Bay” in the Rapanui language, a name given because it is surrounded by small hills that keep it hidden from view, unlike most coves or small bays of the island located mostly in plains.
Due to its good access to the sea and its anchorage conditions, this place was inhabited by the ancient inhabitants of the island as evidenced by the archaeological remains still preserved.
Hanga Piko is associated with a ceremonial complex consisting of the Ahu Ataranga platforms, further north, and the Ahu Ana Hoto Huero to the northwest of Ahu Riata, platform located in the center of the harbor with the only erected moai in the area since 1998 in which it was restored.
At the southern end is placed the Ana Kororupa cave, where in 1995 research was carried out and much of the human bone material recovered in different burial chambers, known as “avanga” by the rapanui community. The lithic material that compose the cave, it could be used as raw material for the elaboration of artifacts for the carving of sculptures.
It seems that in remote times in Ana Kororupa, certain meetings were held in which a group of judges determined, through what the hopu manu told, which of them had first found the egg of manutara in the competition of Koro Manu. At present, the entrance to this cave is covered by weeds and it is very difficult to find it with the naked eye. It remained inside the dock area and when it was built it was filled with waste material.
It seems that the historical occupation of the place and its use by the islanders, are truncated when in the middle of the nineteenth century, the sheep company Williamson Balfour signs the contract of lease of the island with the Chilean government and transforms this natural cove in a harbor, to facilitate the tasks of transport of goods with the continent. Subsequently, with the end of the lease contract, Hanga Piko passes into the hands of the Chilean Navy, who maintain control until the end of the twentieth century and carry out works of expansion and conditioning of the pier.
A fishing and merchandise port
At the moment the port of Hanga Piko gives shelter to different marine activities. On the one hand, there is the Hanga Piko Artisanal Fishermen’s Association, which with its more than 40 boats tries to maintain traditional fishing for species such as albacore, kana-kana, tuna, barracuda or macra, as well as the extraction of the snail Pure, with which are made handicrafts typical of the island and aiming at the diversification of fishing activity.
In front of the Ahu Riata some local boats and sailboats, that occasionally anchor on the island, are moored. Due to the low draft of the port and the strong waves, the entrance can be dangerous and it is necessary to enter with a pilot on board and know very well the maneuver and the state of the tides.
At the southern end of the port is where the goods that arrive to the island by boat are unloaded in barges of little draft. Sometimes, if the state of the sea is not adequate, they have to wait several days to unload with the consequent shortage of some products on the island.
What to do in Hanga Piko
In recent times sporting and tourism activities are gaining weight in Hanga Piko and visits of locals and tourists to this sector a little forgotten and “hidden” are increasing. A sport in which rapanui are very competitive for several years, is navigation in polynesian canoe, called Va’a in rapanui language. So you can see groups of young people carrying canoes to the shore to perform trainings near the coast.
In Hanga Piko are located two of the five existing diving centers on the island: Atariki Diving Center and Tortuga Diving. From here the boats leave with the travelers who are encouraged to submerge and enjoy the marine depths
For those who do not want to dive but do not want to lose contact with the sea, there is the possibility of taking a boat trip with Meherio Glass Boat, which allows you to observe marine life without getting wet through its transparent glass bottom.
But even for those who are not encouraged to perform any activity, are lucky because the marine fauna comes to meet. It is frequent to observe sea turtles on the banks of Hanga Piko, as in Pea Beach. But here the experience is closer because it is easier to see them out of the water, possibly because they feel less observed as this is a place less traveled by tourists.
Several projects have recently been submitted to reorder and urbanize Hanga Piko. It intends to enlarge the dock to facilitate the landing of both merchandise and tourists coming from the cruise ships and to condition the fishing, nautical and tourist facilities to revitalize and transform Hanga Piko into the great sea gate to the Rapa Nui territory.
How to get to Hanga Piko
Hanga Roa Otai is located at the end of Te Pito O Te Henua street, where it intersects with the Policarpo Toro street, which borders the coast, just where the Ahu Tautira ends.