One of Easter Island’s most unforgettable landmarks, the ancient volcano of Rano Raraku is home to the island’s largest and most important archaeological site. Known as the quarry, this was where the island’s iconic moai were carved, using the naturally formed tuff (a soft rock made from solidified volcanic ash), and then distributed around the island.
About 95 percent of all the island’s moai were carved at Rano Raraku, and although the site was abandoned in the late 18th century, it remains littered with a remarkable 396 incomplete moai. Wander through the quarry and you’ll find half-carved statues, sculpted boulders perched high up on the quarry walls and moai half buried in volcanic tuff, leaving just the heads poking out of the ground. Most unique are Moai Tukuturi, a small, round-headed statue on its knees, and El Gigante, the largest known moai, which reaches an incredible 71 feet (21 meters) in height, weighs an estimated 270 tons and remains attached to the rock face.
Rano Raraku is located along the southeast coast of Easter Island, about 30 minutes by car from Hanga Roa. The entrance fee to the Rapa Nui National Park is $60 for all non-Chileans (payable on arrival to the island) and includes entrance to Rano Raraku.