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Rapa Nui – Entering the Cave of the Cannibals on Easter Island

rapa nui

In Rapa Nui you can find not only the famous, huge Moai. In fact, Easter Island also hides a disturbing cave. Covered by the rocky coast and the waves that lap it, this cave has a very special name that can have more interpretations.

Let’s discover together what makes the so-called Ana Kai Tangata such a unique and strange place.

What Does Ana Kai Tangata Mean?

Ana Kai Tangata literally translates as a “man-eating cave“. However, no one knows what its true meaning is, because the language of Rapa Nui lends itself to multiple interpretations.

In fact, it could be a “cave where men eat”, or a “cave that eats men”. Otherwise, it could even refer to a “cave where men are eaten”.

Depending on the meaning that you choose to give to its name, therefore, this could reflect for example some tribal traditions. After all, cannibalism was certainly not a taboo on Easter Island. However, the less macabre interpretation of the name is more likely. In fact, the cave could be called so because of the currents and tides that in the past must have sucked and trapped those who tried to enter it.

The Wonders of Rapa Nui

We are in Rapa Nui, the famous Easter Island. However, for once the protagonists are not the moai, but a unique cave. Moreover, in this cave – in reality there are two, but the twin is still unapproachable – there are very rare cave paintings. There are drawings of ships, Polynesian canoes, birds and animals drawn on the polished rock with natural red, white and black pigments mixed with shark oil. These are magnificent finds for which it is perhaps worth challenging this “insidious” site, since water, time and salt are wiping them out.

In fact, there is no danger of visiting the cave if you follow the recommendations provided by the guides. In any case, those who do not feel like facing the “cannibal ferocity” of the cave, may also take a simple excursion and get to the cliff in front. From here you can admire the waves that break against Ana Kai Tangata and her “evil twin” – which is located a little further south.

Both caves are located near the beginning of the Sendero Te Ara or Te Ao. To get there, starting from Policarpo Toro you have to follow the signs along the road that leads to the volcano Orongo.

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