Created in 1935, now under Conaf administration, Parque Nacional Rapa Nui comprises about 40 percent of the island’s surface. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, it protects all the island’s archaeological sites as part of a museo al aire libre (open-air museum).
Visiting the park entails getting around the entire island, though precise park boundaries are in flux as land is returned to the islanders. The roads, fortunately, are much improved—the highway to Anakena  is smoothly paved, and the south coast road  is mostly paved as far as Rano Raraku and Ahu Tongariki. Most of the remainder of the loop across the Poike isthmus and along the north coast to Ovahe and Anakena is still a bumpy dirt surface, however.
Because Rapa Nui  is so compact, and the roads improved, it’s possible to see a great deal in a day, but rather than hopscotching around the island it’s better to explore in a systematic manner by following logical geographical routes.
South of town on the Rano Kau road, Conaf (tel. 0322/100827) is open 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays only; there are also ranger posts at Orongo (which has a small museum), Anakena, and Rano Raraku.
Conaf’s well-illustrated English-language brochure Archaeological Field Guide, Rapa Nui National Park, by Claudio Cristino, Patricia Vargas, and Roberto Izaurieta, is an outstanding summary of the park’s monuments.
For US$30 per annum, real Rapanuiphiles can subscribe to the quarterly Rapa Nui Journal, c/o the Easter Island Foundation (P.O. Box 6774, Los Osos, CA 93412-6774, tel. 805/528-8558, www.islandheritage.org ). In addition to serious scholarly articles, it also provides the latest island gossip, travel information, and even “moai sightings” around the world.
The best, most easily available map is the third edition of ITM’s Easter Island (scale 1:30,000), readily found at bookstores in the United States and Canada; it can also be ordered through International Travel Maps & Books (530 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E9, Canada, tel. 805/879-3621, www.itmb.com ).