An eerie cavern burrowing into the sea cliffs, Ana Kai Tangata is almost entirely hidden from view, camouflaged by the rocky coastline and lapping waves. Step inside the cave and you’ll soon realize why the spot is so renowned—the looming arches of black-rock are etched with an elaborate series of bird drawings, painted with a blend of natural earth and animal fats.
Thought to have been used by the island’s earliest settlers, the cave’s history remains a subject of speculation among archaeologists, but the name, which translates to the ambiguous "man eat cave," and the paintings, lend themselves to a number of theories. Most notable is the subject matter of the paintings—the manutaras, or black terns, depicted were also the focal point of Orongo’s annual Birdman ceremony, which took place during the autumn equinox and pitted Rapa Nui hopus (chiefs) against each other in a competition to retrieve a sacred manutara egg.
Ana Kai Tangata lies on the northwest coast of Easter Island, just a few kilometers south of 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 Ana Kai Tangata.