Explorer: Easter Island Underworld

More than 400 years ago on a remote pacific island,a marooned island faced an apocalypse with no chance to escape. This is the story of Easter Island.

Their civilization evolved in total isolation until the first European landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722.

Islanders used its timber to erect their 80-ton statues and sustain a great society through farming and deep-sea fishing. But the evidence also shows that their paradise soon became a wasteland: the forest vanished, fertile soil washed away, the island’s streams dried up, and some experts claim millions of sea birds were wiped out. Humans fared little better

A team of National Geographic explorers and scientists undertakes a groundbreaking expedition to attempt a first-ever mapping of the vast cave system beneath this enigmatic isle.  Ride along as the team rappels down sheer cliffs and crawl through narrow labyrinths.  Deep beneath the earth, in caverns that have been forgotten for centuries, these adventurers discover human remains and telltale artifacts. It is a tale of ingenious achievement, environmental catastrophe and brutal social breakdown.

What brought on this catastrophe of the end of Easter Island? Was it, as some claim, the islanders themselves that led to their downfall–or could stowaway rats have prevented vital trees from regenerating, and sealed the settler’s fate?  Or did their society collapse in the face of European disease and slave-trading? Find out Sunday on Explorer: Easter Island Underworld at 7P and get a glance at a once-in-a-lifetime expedition, providing answers to environmental questions that echo even more ominously in a world that may be approaching a final tipping point.


  1. Patty J Vanoy
    March 22, 2013, 7:38 pm

    My husband spent a year on Easter Island when it was still rather primitive. We have a soft heart for the Islanders. It’s amazing how Life on the island has changed from those long-ago days.

  2. Gee Bee
    March 26, 2013, 12:41 pm

    I was looking forward to watching this documentary but the heinous popups turned me away in less than three minutes. It seems they’re not in the embedded video above, so why–oh, why–were they a part of the original broadcast? Quite probably the most annoying “device” I’ve ever come across in a documentary… I’m guessing it was some sort of collaboration with VH1?

  3. Schweizer
    Lawrence, KS
    December 26, 2016, 8:27 pm

    I love any narrative spoken by Peter Coyote.