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Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the entire world which obviously makes travelling to the island both pricey and time-consuming. Easter Island, therefore, remains a bucket list dream for some of the most die-hard travel fanatics!
If you’re weighing up whether a trip to Easter Island is worth the money and time, here’s a super handy guide to let you know exactly what to expect from a trip to Easter Island!
If you’re wondering how you can access Easter Island on a “budget”, you can read my tips and tricks here!
Travelling to Easter Island
The most popular method of getting to Easter Island is the daily flights from the Chilean capital of Santiago. An alternative would be to catch one of the weekly flight from Tahiti. Both options take around 5 hours and as LATAM is the only airline servicing these routes, there is lack of competition from other airlines so costs can be pricey!
Being one of the most remote islands in the world, Easter Island can suffer from turbulent weather (it’s the first place I’d been where road signs showed the highest points of the island in case of a tsunami – not worrying at all)! With that in mind, make sure that you add some buffer time to your trip – my flight to the Island ended up being delayed by 5 hours and apparently this isn’t uncommon.
A more adventurous option would be to jump on a boat and ride the waves like the original explorers of the island – I’ve heard incredible stories of retirees chartering a boat themselves and making this amazing journey!
If you’re strapped for cash, look into making the trip on the Chilean Navy Aquiles ship. The ship usually makes this trip twice a year from Valparaiso (Chile) and takes 7 days. While the price is lower than that of a flight, you are obliged to return on the same boat which limits your stay on the island to just a few days (this is fine to see everything that the island has to offer, but is somewhat silly when it’s taken you 7 days to get there)! Be sure to look into this option early as navy personnel (plus their families) and Easter Island residents get priority when booking.
Finally, some cruise lines servicing the South Pacific will make a stop at Easter Island. Of course, cruises aren’t the most bank account friendly option, but this would be a great way to see more of the gorgeous Pacific islands!
If you’re wondering how you can fit a trip to Easter Island into a longer adventure, read about my 3 month itinerary here!
If you’re on a budget (like I was!), there are a few “hostels” on the island. I chose to stay at Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana which has the option for you to pitch a tent (the cheapest option), stay in a dorm room (the next cheapest option but be aware that the beds sell out quickly) or a basic private room.
I had no choice but to opt for the basic private room on the basis that I didn’t have camping equipment with me and there was no availability in the dorm rooms. The room was comfortable and definitely one of the cheapest options on the Island.
Of course, with this being a destination favoured by luxury travellers, there are some incredible properties you can stay at if you have the money! I love the look of the Hanga Roa Eco Village and Spa.
Be sure to book your accommodation in advance as options are limited (especially when you are on a budget) and you won’t want to miss out.
I travelled to Easter Island on my own and quite frankly, if you’re not comfortable in your own company, this is not the location for you as a solo traveller.
When the transfer to Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana arrived at the airport, I quickly realised that I was the only English speaker within the group heading to my hostel and things were going to be very different to mainland Chile. The majority of travellers that I met were from South America and they spoke very little English. I had plans to learn Spanish later on in my trip to South America (Bolivia is the cheapest place to do it) but I really could have done with those lessons before visiting Easter Island!
The owners of the hotel could speak English… when they wanted to. When we all arrived at the hotel, we were sat down and given a full briefing of the Island and the owner gave a great translated version to me. Unfortunately, when asking questions to the hotel staff later on in my trip, I often got the feeling that they couldn’t be bothered to deal with me as my Spanish skills were limited.
There was one South Korean girl in the hotel who couldn’t speak either Spanish or English and I have no idea how she coped!
Thankfully, I met an older American couple in the hostel kitchen who took me under their wing like the daughter they never had for some of my time on the Island. Travelling alone on the island can be expensive, so I was very glad to have people to split the costs of car hire with.
Essentially, don’t expect to waltz into a hostel and meet tonnes of people like you will in the rest of South America (unless you can speak fluent Spanish)! However, if you are looking for somewhere incredible to relax and enjoy some alone time after living in the hustle and bustle of South American hostels, Easter Island is dreamy.
Getting Around the Island
Easter Island is small, at a mere 163km², it is a fraction of the size of Greater London (1,572 km²). To simplify matters further there’s a large portion of the Island that has no roads and is off limits to tourists unless you are willing to pay $500+ for a guide. My hostel owner mentioned these tours, but I wasn’t able to find anything about them online – so maybe ask around when you’re on the Island if you think something in that area is worth seeing!
The areas of the Island that you are able to visit un-guided are easy to access. You can drive the main loop road of the Island in no time at all. Even if you stop and see ALL of the sights, you’ll be able to do this in one leisurely day.
The most common method of transportation is car; and unlike most other activities on the island, car rental prices are fairly reasonable, especially when split between a group. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try a quad bike, and if you’re much fitter than I, hire a bike for a long cycle!
Consider the weather when if you do hire a quad bike or a bike. I visited in the middle of Summer (February), it was very hot, very humid and the UV rays were very strong. While most rental cars do not have air-conditioning, it’s nice to have a break from the sun beating down on you!
The roads are well-maintained and often fairly empty – even during peak seasons. We found that is was easier to bump into a pack of wild horses than a traffic jam (apart from at Anakena Beach which was very popular in the Summer)!
Therefore, even though there is no form of public transportation, getting around the Island is incredibly simple!
Dealing with “Easter Island Time”
One of the greatest things about Easter Island is the incredibly relaxed and chilled out way of life. This can also, of course be one of it’s downfalls.
As well as allowing buffer time for flight delays, maybe add some additional buffer time for activities. I decided that I wanted to try snorkelling while on the Island, I followed the guidance of the hotel owner to go out with a group led by his friend at 4pm that day rather than using the dive centres in town. 5pm rolled around and the boat still hadn’t left the port meaning I missed the traditional dance ceremony that evening….
Moral of the story – relax, take things at a calm pace and try not to cram too much into one day.
I had read horror stories online about the lack of Wi-Fi on the Island and had reassured my mum countless times that I would be without Wi-Fi for 5 days and she shouldn’t panic that I had died.
With that in mind, I was actually really impressed at the quality of the Wi-Fi on the Island! Of course, you couldn’t stream Netflix or upload a YouTube video successfully but for general messaging and uploading the occasional Instagram post (if you have the time to spare while it uploads slowly), the Wi-Fi was fine!
The hotel Wi-Fi was definitely better during the day (i.e. while people were out exploring rather than sitting in bed trying to use the Wi-Fi), so try and use it at less popular hours.
Some of the parks in Hanga Roa have free Wi-Fi but log-on success can be temperamental at best. I would have loved to have been able to sit in one of the parks over-looking the sea with the view of a Moai head in the background and face-timed my friends and family who are unlikely to ever visit.
Food on the Island can be expensive but there are definitely ways to get around this.
Many people bring food to Easter Island from the mainland in cooler boxes. I’ve never seen so many cooler-boxes make their way around the baggage turnstile at the airport – there might have been more food than there was actual luggage!
The alternative is to buy food to cook from the local supermarkets on the Island. While this is more expensive than buying the equivalent on the mainland, it will definitely be cheaper than eating out every night!
The cheapest place to grab lunch on the Island is without a doubt “Club Sandwhich” which serves $3 tasty empanadas among other cheaper treats!
If you want to treat yourself, head over to Te Moai Sunset for great food and an incredible view of the sunset at Ahu Tahai (a must see on the Island, even if you don’t stop here for dinner)!
It goes without saying that the Moai statues are the main reason that most people visit Easter Island. The iconic statues may be some of the most famous monuments in the world (albeit for the younger generations, this may only be because of the great “you dumb dumb, you give me gum gum” line from Night at the Museum)!
I was concerned that visiting countless statues of heads would get tiresome, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The size, complexity and history of these statues was interesting every. single. time.
But rest assured, there’s plenty more to do on the Island, so much so that I’ve written a whole separate blog post which you can read here.
Protecting the Island
Respecting and protecting the Island are two huge concerns of the Rapa Nui people. There are countless signs on the Island asking you to stick to the roads/footpaths as to not cause erosion on parts of the Island unnecessarily.
Further to this, the re-cycling effort on the Island is second to none. After huge issues with rubbish in the past, there are now a multitude of bins that you need to assess and choose the right one for each piece of your rubbish – tourists are also encouraged to take large items they wish to dispose of back to the mainland as to not clog up the Island.
Touching the Moai or climbing on the Ahu (the raised platform that the Moai stand on) is strictly off limits and the penalties for doing so are huge.
While this might sound like a lot of rules and regulations, it’s for the best of the Island. Easter Island is such an incredible place, it would be a real shame for it to be ruined for future generations. Stick to the rules and have a great time.
Given the remoteness of the Island, I had always imagined that tiny planes accessed the Island… Once again, I couldn’t be more wrong. With Dreamliner planes dropping off hundreds of passengers a day (not that you would notice it at the tourist sites!), maintaining the Island is of the upmost importance.
I think that the safety of a destination is truly summed up when one of the biggest threats you can find in your research is an injury from a falling coconut on Anakena Beach…
My time on Easter Island was truly incredible; it is a tropical paradise so far removed from the rest of South America (even the Galapagos Islands which seem over-run by tourists in comparison).
Yes it’s expensive, yes it’s time consuming to reach but boy is it worth it. Quite frankly, I’ve never been anywhere like it.
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