A very few snorkeling spots, but the opportunity to spot unique fish species

Rocky, devoid of lagoons, and battered by waves, Easter Island is home to only a few snorkel spots. All locations can be found on the main island, concentrated on a small portion of the north coast.

Anakena Beach, with its coconut palms, white sand, and moai- the world-known monumental statues that have made Rapa Nui famous- is the best snorkel spot on the island. Well sheltered, it generally offers good conditions for snorkeling. It’s the only intermediate level spot accessible from the coast.

Ovahe Beach, located across the small crater bordering Anakena, is another spot to try. However, the sea tends to be rougher here and swimming is often prohibited because of the risks of landslides from its overhanging crater.

Further east there are a few wild coves that succeed one after the other. The most experienced snorkelers may consider a session at Ahu Heki’i or Hanga Taharoa, but only if the sea conditions are ideal and after asking local advice.

Finally, some of Hanga Roa’s diving centers offer snorkeling boat trips to Motu Nui, located off the southwest tip of the island. A tour costs around 30,000 pesos per person.

Fish and coral when snorkeling Easter Island
(left) an Easter Island butterflyfish schooling with whitebar surgeonfish (right) a small pink Acropora colony – both photographed at Anakena Beach.

The seabed that borders Rapa Nui is mostly rocky. While the island does not have coral reefs, there are small coral heads in some places. The coastal waters of the island are lively with fish, but not very varied in species.

We can easily observe near the edge, schools of hundreds of whitebar surgeonfish, several species of colorful wrasses (the yellow-brown wrasse, the blue-striped orange tamarin), as well as some more tropical fish, such as the yellow-longnose butterflyfish.

The island is home to some endemic species, which are found nowhere else in the world, such as the Easter Island butterflyfish (easy to spot everywhere, including through the surface in Hanga Roa’s harbor). There is also the Easter Island angelfish, but it is rather rare to find at snorkeling depth. Underwater visibility is exceptional around the island, which does not have a permanent stream.

The swell can stir the sand in certain areas near the beaches, reducing underwater visibility.

View of Anakena Beach snorkeling, Easter Island
Beautiful Anakena Bay is the most popular snorkeling spot on the island.

When to go snorkeling on Easter Island

Easter Island has a subtropical climate, marked by hot summers and very mild winters. During the austral summer from January to April, we find its hottest months, with average daytime temperatures above 25°C/77°F.

The water temperature is found to be more pleasant than the rest of the year, around 22 to 25°C/72 to 77°F. In the heart of southern winter, from June to September, water temperatures drop and rarely exceed 20°C/68°F.

On this island, which is not protected by a coral reef, be aware that there is a real risk if you choose to practice snorkeling, all year round (especially in winter) because of the waves or the swell. Likewise, Rapa Nui is renowned for its exceptionally high UV index: don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun, even in cloudy weather.

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