Hanga Roa Otai
In Easter Island there are five coves or small bays (hanga in rapanui language) from which local fishermen go out to sea. The most remote are La Perouse on the northeast coast, Hanga Nui, near Ahu Tongariki, and Vaihu on the south coast. Finally, the small harbors of Hanga Piko and Hanga Roa Otai are located in Hanga Roa town and they are the most important of the island.
Hanga Roa Otai, a lively place
Hanga Roa Otai is a very lively and crowded point because in addition to serving as a port for small craft fishing boats, it is also used as a pier for the boats that transport the passengers of the large transatlantic cruises that stop at the island.
On the left of the access to the creek, there is a moai on a pedestal and wooden benches surrounding it that make up what is known as Plaza Hotu Matu’a, named by Dr. Álvaro Tejeda in November 1938, as part of his actions to proclaim himself King Hotu Matu’a.
Tejeda tried to revive in his honor the culture, the folklore, the history and the ceremonial of landing of the king in the bay. The moai that is on this platform was brought from the Ahu Atiu, by Tejeda’s own interest, for the reconstruction and implementation of an ahu in his honor.
At the end of the small port there is an image of St Peter (San Pedro), patron of the fishermen. Every June 29 is celebrated on Easter Island the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. The day begins with a solemn mass in the church of Santa Cruz, once finished they are directed in procession towards the creek where the images of St Peter of Hanga Roa Otai and Hanga Piko are shipped.
After the prayers and blessings in the sea, they return to earth to finish the acts with a curanto for the whole community. This religious tradition began in the decade of the 70s, where only the fishermen celebrated, later incorporated the families and in the 90s the rest of the community.
What to do in Hanga Roa Otai
At Hanga Roa Otai there are several diving centers on the island: Mike Rapu, Orca Diving Center and Rapa Nui Dive Center. So there are always wetsuits drying in the sun, a boat ready to leave and tourists eager to discover the deep sea.
Here you can also find the restaurants La Taberne du Pecheur right at the entrance and La Kaleta in the background. Next to Mike Rapu’s diving center is the Mikafé Ice Cream Shop. Its terrace is always full because they serve rich homemade ice creams made with local products such as taro (a type of tuber) or tipanie flower. They also serve po’e, sandwiches, cakes and the best cappuccino on the island.
Next to this place there is a bench with a small shed that is ideal to contemplate the evolutions of the surfers on the waves and beautiful sunsets if the weather is good enough.
How to get to Hanga Roa Otai
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.