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Rampart Ridge, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Photo by @mrmoosefish while on an evening hike with his 11 year old daughter! Talk about #travelstoke!
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#clouds #sky #rampartridge #washington #nature #hiking #adventure #travel

9 experiences on Easter Island

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is a small volcanic island halfway between Oceania and South America. It’s mostly famous for the Moai, massive human figures carved from stone by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 AD.

I’m lucky to have recently visited this tiny dot of an island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. It was an immersion into an unexplored culture, where you can ride a horse all the way up a volcano and hear stories about the Birdman religion and sacred ceremonies. Among other things:

1. Land at the most isolated airport on Earth

Rapa Nui is located halfway between French Polynesia and Chile. It’s the most isolated inhabited land on the planet. Unless you own a boat, Mataveri International Airport is how you’ll arrive. Be sure to buy tickets for the national park as soon as you get off the plane (even before passing through immigration) to get a discount. Also, the airport runway crosses the entire island and is possibly the best place on Earth to see planes come and go…even if there’s only one aircraft per day.

2. Get the stamp!

rapa nui passport stamp

Photo by the author

Daily flights to Rapa Nui arrive from Santiago, meaning you get a Chilean stamp on that hard-worn passport of yours. But go to the downtown post office and they’ll be gracious enough to stamp your passport with their own Rapa Nui stamp.

3. Swim the clearest waters in the South Pacific

One characteristic that protects Rapa Nui from predatory tourism is the lack of postcard-ready white-sand beaches. There’s but one, Anakena, pristine as a Pacific paradise advertisement, complete with picnic tables, a line of very impressive Moai, carritos (shacks) selling unbelievably delicious empanadas de atun and, if you’re lucky, even a traditional marriage complete with all-white clothing, family members, and music (like when I was there).

The natural blue, cold, and cool waters are perfect for diving; sea turtles can be seen when snorkeling right off the beach.

4. Bump into ancient petroglyphs

rapa nui ancient petroglyphs

Photo by the author

I was roaming around some rocks by the sea, right in front a souvenir shop. There weren’t any signs — I just wanted to get closer to the sea and here looked as good as any. But then I saw a rock shaped like an animal — a frog, maybe? Right next to it there was something carved on a rock. Then more. And more.

Rapa Nui is an archeologist’s heaven — minus the curious visitor walking over ancient markings, of course. That’s why, 30 seconds later, the owner of the souvenir shop appeared on the road above the rocks yelling at me to get out of there immediately.

5. Check out the Moai

Ahu Akivi, Rapa Nui, July 2014 / @ Gaía Passarelli

Photo by the author

Moai translates loosely as “to whom” in the Rapa Nui language. Makes perfect sense once you understand what those enormous statues stands for — not gods or aliens, but ancestors watching over the land and sharing mana (vital energy) with their tribes. It also explains why the Moai were torn down when tribal wars devastated the island.

The best place to see them is…just about everywhere. I mean it — if not careful, you risk stepping on Moai remains near an ahu and getting mad stares from tour guides and park rangers. Two spots are remarkable: Rano Raraku, known as he “Moai factory” because that’s where the most figures were excavated; and Ahu Tahai, which is guaranteed to deliver the sunset of a lifetime and is walkable from the island’s downtown area.

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A fantastic way to spend the afternoon in #Ayutthaya, #Thailand. Photo by #MatadorN reader @wethewonderers. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!

Editor’s note: I first came across Daniel Chafer’s work at MatadorU’s travel photography program, and was immediately captivated by his imagery of water.

Daniel has been living at sea for more than six years, giving him next-level access to surf spots and beaches across the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Below is a collection of some of his shots that I most responded to.


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Cane Garden

I hadn’t been camping for a while and wanted to find a location where we could watch the sunset over the campsite. We’d just managed to surf the right spot at the right time—a rarely breaking right point called Cane Garden Bay. We heard of a bay just north of Cane Garden, so we decided to navigate our way around the back roads to find it.

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Sharing stoke

I asked this local man, Tafari, if he’d heard of the bay north of Cane Garden. He told me he’d take us if we didn’t tell any travelers of this spot. We got to the top of the road and looked out to the ocean, only to see the kingdom of heaven. Tafari asked if we had anything to drink. All we had was warm orange juice, so we gave it to him.

Intermission
4 11 portraits that reveal the real faces of the homeless by Joshua Thaisen 3 16 images of life on the streets in LA by Joshua Thaisen 3 10 experiences you can only have in the Guianas by Karin-Marijke Vis
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Beachcombing

The island of St. Thomas is home to many reef breaks, and in the US Virgin Islands the picturesque little beaches are covered with driftwood, coral, and colorful shells. Early one morning I checked the surf report to find the swell was up, so I drove to Hull Bay to find a perfect 3ft wave. On my paddle back to the beach I found a pile of beautiful shells and couldn’t just walk away without creating something.

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Navigating the sea

After doing loads of research on different islands to explore in the Caribbean, we figured if we penciled an outline to our journey we wouldn’t mind being lost as long as we knew we were heading south to St. Lucia. Sailing the Caribbean is a lifestyle; you have the luxury to choose what private seashore you’re anchored in, or find a beach with nobody around.

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Star trails over Half Dome. #MatadorN Ambassador @chrisburkard shot this image while testing out the high ISO on his Sony A7s. It was about a 2.5 hour exposure - ISO 6400 - 24mm f4. #Travelstoke!
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#nightsky #nightphotography #startrails #yosemite #california #nature

#Travelstoke Postcard from #Toronto.

Do you guys like these video tours from #MatadorN Creative Director @spoart? If so, let us know in the comments and stay tuned for more! #travel #canada