Easter Island: tips for visiting on a low budget
January 1, 1970
Easter Island with its remote location in the middle of the Pacific ocean has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination. Although it’s not cheap, it is definitely worth to try and squeeze it into your travel itinerary. With some luck, it can be visited also if you are a lowbudget traveler. Here are some of my tips for a more affordable visit.
Buying a plane ticket
The only way to get to Easter Island from mainland Chile is to catch a 3 to 4 hours long flight from the capital Santiago. Latam Airlines are the only company running the flights and the prices for a round trip are from 400 USD onward. Usual recommendations are to buy a plane ticket as soon as possible because the early buy should get you a lower price. In the case of long traveling, it is very hard to plan ahead so buying tickets few months before seems impossible. When I tried to book my ticket one month before departure, there seem to be no flights available on the Latam Airlines web page. I contacted them by email and they responded with the price 1.700 USD. Then I tried my luck one more time in person at their office in Punta Arenas. I got the return ticket just 3 weeks before the flight for 460 USD, which is one of the lowest prices you can get!
Finding cheap accommodation
On the Easter Island hostels are hard to find. The typical type of accommodation is staying in Hostal or B&B owned by a local family. It’s also the most convenient one because you get a private room with breakfast, there is a kitchen you can use and you can also get to know how the local life looks like. I stayed in Petero Atamu Hostal with a nice common room and a terrace close to the center of Hanga Roa and my single room including a delicious breakfast cost around 30 USD per night, which I think was a very good price. You can also try a cheaper option with camping, but be aware of the hard rain showers which can occur often as in the case of my visit. It is advisable to book ahead – you will probably get a better price and the accommodation provider will wait for you at the airport (usually all of them do).
Food and drinks
There are many supermarkets in Hanga Roa. The prices are a bit higher on the island, especially for fresh vegetables and meat. Many people recommend bringing food and drinks with you from the mainland (don’t worry about the customs, it’s allowed and you also see all the locals traveling with an extra cooler box). If your accommodation includes a kitchen you can use, you can spend minimal money on food. But on the other hand, you will probably want to try some local specialties like I did. That’s why I brought only some wine and snacks from the mainland. You can eat at local restaurants for around 10 USD onward per lunch with fish or meat, usually with rice and a salad. The price is not too high and I recommend you to try it, it is delicious!
You can still find affordable food, but drinks are expensive. You can have a glass of delicious Pisco sour for 5 USD or a small bottle of beer for 4 USD. A bottle of wine in a store cost me 7 USD (discount!) and a big bottle of water was 3 USD. So if you want to get drunk you should bring your bottle of Pisco from the mainland or you will spend too much.
Sightseeing around the island
If you go to the Easter Island, you are probably there to see the famous rock sculptures called Moai. Some of them are located almost in the town of Hanga Roa and are easily walkable. But there are much more Moai sights all around the island and you have different options to get to them. The easiest but also quite expensive, especially if you are traveling alone, is to rent a car for a day or two. Island is not very big so in two days you can see all the main sights outside of Hanga Roa. Another option is to book an organized tour, which costs from 50 USD onward for half a day. If you want to see all the sights you will have to go on 3 different tours. If you want to do some sports and save some money your pick should be renting a bicycle. But I warn you, the road goes up and down and it can be extremely hot biking uphill. This year they also established a hop on – hop off bus service, which is really convenient for low budget travelers. The bus rounds the island 5 times per day and it stops at all major sights for around 20 USD. You can also listen to an audio guide while driving and get to know some more facts about the island and its history.
Traditional music and dance show
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the traditional Rapa Nui music and see the local dancers performing dressed in traditional costumes. The sounds and the moves are very Polynesian and the atmosphere is really good. You can even go on a stage and dance with them! Some restaurants offer the show with dinner and even transportation for around 60 to 80 USD. But you can enjoy just in the show for 15-20 USD, which I think is affordable for a low budget traveler.
Is it worth?
I guess you already know the answer. My stay on the Island was definitely worth the money. I tried not to spend too much and in 5 days I got by with around 800 USD everything included. I guess I could save a bit more with camping, cooking on my own and not drinking in bars. But hey, I will save up another time. Easter Island is once in a lifetime destination and if you have a chance, go and visit it.