There are some friendly waves in the bay off Hanga Roa, but there are more challenging breaks all around the island (the best known near Tahai, north of Hanga Roa). But be forewarned, winter surf can reach 20 feet, the jagged lava shoreline is unforgiving, the breaks are shallow over rock ledges. In other words, this is not Waikiki…
Go early or late, but try to arrive at the volcanic crater of Rano Raraku when there are no other visitors. The crater is sometimes referred to as “The Nursery, ” because it was here the moai were quarried from the hard basalt rock, and walking around hundreds of the statues – some standing, some fallen, others unfinished and still waiting to be cut free from the rock – is nothing less than awe-inspiring. Then cross the island to Orongo, the ceremonial village of the Birdman Cult, perched on the edge of the Rano Kau. The seacliff setting is breathtaking, and as you let your gaze sweep to the curvature of the earth, the Pacific seems endless.
Most islanders have a horse or two, and most of them can be rented. However … the horses are marginal (don’t expect to gallop) the riding gear a bit less than that (homemade saddles are common), and picking your way across hills and fields of lava rocks can try the patience of both rider and steed. That said, travel by slow horse is just about the right speed to appreciate the archaeological sites near Hanga Roa (and, for the saddle-seasoned, the roadless north coast).