My image of Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui, as it’s called locally in Spanish and Polynesian, was limited to an volcanic island far-away-from-everything and its unique Moai monumental statues (Ahu). Though this is why this Island is famous for, we also discovered its rich culture, beautiful beaches, great walks and hospitable people. If Easter island ticks all the boxes, it is no longer the chilliest vacation spot you can find. It attracts many tourists, very often overpriced and over the year sites have been more and more restricted (rightly so) to protect the nature and the Moai.
However you should not miss it if you are on a trip through the Pacific or in Chile. Here is how to plan a relax stay on the Island in less than a week.
FIRST THING FIRST.
Our trip began with buying the tourist pass. It will allow you to access ALL sites and you can buy it on arrival at the airport for about 80 USD. This is what is recommended (not mandatory) by most sites and blogs. If you are only stopping here for a wonder, no need to buy it as some sites with Moai are free access. We also had very little control (except at Rano Raraku quarry). Get a map of the island for all the highlights.
Best travel plan outside of Hanga Roa.
You should not underestimate the time it takes to enjoy the island to its fullest. A vehicle is necessary unless you are booking various tours. Starting early in the morning, you can really see ALL what there is to see outside of Hang Roa area (main town) in 1 or 2 days.
- Start with the sunrise in Ahu Tongariki. An unforgettable experience looking at the sun arising behind a large platform with 15 Moai. If you have not taken the pass, you have the option to see it from behind the stone wall.
- Go to the Moai’s home place in Rano Raraku This is where the Moais were carved in the first place. The site open from 9-9:30am. 1H visit. You must have the pass for this site.
- Head to Poike volcano for a hike. Off the main road (IPA 2) park in from of a private home, cross the farm and go up this hill. 1.30H walk
- Make a stop at the beautiful Ovahe. A quiet beach with a nice spot for snorkelling and black coral.
- You can walk along the coast line (30min) or drive to Anakena beach for lunch. There is one bus on the island that will take you to Anakena beach from the city centre if you are not driving.
- Drive back in the afternoon to Ahu Akivi. Enjoy the site of the 7 Moai and take a 2H walk on Maurja Tere Vaka Trail to another view point. The pass will be needed here.
- Drive up to Rano Kau volcanoe for free Stargazing at night. Free access.
If you stay at the Tipanie Moana campsite and guesthouse you can get a discount when hiring a vehicle. Only pay 35 000 Chilean pesos (53 USD) for a car or a scooter for a 24H rent. Price is a little bite more expensive for a quad.
What to do near Hanga Roa ?
There are many sites near the main town to visit. Here are the highlights over 2-3 days.
- Rano Kau volcano walk. A 3-4H walk from the city centre. The crater is just insane. It is a wild greenhouse with a view on the ocean. Take your time to walk both sides of the crater and make a stop at the ceremonial village of Orongo if you have the pass.
- Enjoy the natural swimming pools along the coast.
- Take a 2km walk to Tahai and enjoy the Moai freely standing. No pass required.
- On your way back in town stop at the local gymnasium in the late afternoon to see some local dance rehearsals and don’t forget to spot turtles in the port (Early morning or late afternoon evening).
- Finish off the day anywhere on the coast where the sunsets are incredible.
Where to stay ?
Easter Island is not a budget destination. There are many nice hotels and restaurants to choose from. If you are on low budget, we can only recommend the Camping and guesthouse Tipanie Moana. Very good price, nice facilities, hot showers and wifi. Do not pay more than 7000 to 7500 Pesos for the night per person. Some campsites will definitely try to charge you more as they are eager to make money from tourists in high season. The island is small so be prepared in high season for the accommodations to be packed.
Is Easter Island a budget destination ?
Being an remote place, Easter island is not a budget destination. If you are travelling on a low expense, camping and cooking your own food, this is what your trip will cost you.
Expenses over 7 days On Easter Island for 2 people.
Average spent per day and per person. It includes vehicles hiring, accommodation, food and entrance to the Park.
For Camping with our own tent.
For Car and Bike Hiring. Try to share a car for sharing cost.
Island Pass to access all site for one person.
For food. We ate out one at the restaurant. And mostly cooked our own meal.
For a postcard and international stamp.
Ia maita’i te terera’a
The weather on the island is unpredictable and changing. Check the weather before hiring your car to make sure you have good weather and allow one more day to your journey (just in case).
Rent a vehicle from mid afternoon so you can maximise your rental. It is always a 24H rent.
Best time to go is around February month and try to be there on the Tapati annual festival. The most important cultural and sportive event (first half of February)