Easter Island is known for being an expensive destination. Though for me it has been a dream to travel there, the prices scared me from going for a long time. But after finally visiting, I found that it did not have to cost that much to visit this incredible place.
Actually, I am surprised of how little money we actually used on everything. We did not even use up our budget, and still came back with some money. So here are my tips to everyone that would like to travel to Easter Island without using too much money:
What will cost the most is your flight to get to the Easter Island. There are only two options to get there, and that is from Santiago de Chile or Tahiti. Before there were also flights from Lima, but they recently stopped. We went from Santiago which have one flight to Easter Island every day. I had checked the flight prices many times since I moved to South America, but the prices where around 800-900 USD just from Santiago and back. This is also the price most websites will tell you it cost.
But not long ago I found tickets for under 500 USD, which was much more affordable. Maybe because we were going when the low season started? More out in the low season you can get the ticket for 460 USD, but then expect rain.
2. Car rental
The best and cheapest way to get around the island is by renting a car. But this is very expensive if you go to the car rental agencies and it cost 85000 CLP per day (143 USD). But if you ask on your hostel or hotel, they usually know local people that rents out cars for 1/3 of the price.
We rented the exact same jeep that the car rental agencies rent for 85000 CLP per day for only 30000 CLP, and it saved us for almost 100 USD per day.
3. National Park entry fee and Guide
Before arrival we had read that we had to pay an entry fee of 30000 CLP (50 USD) to entry to the national park and the archaeological sites on the island. But when we arrived the counter where you buy the entry ticket at the airport was closed. And when entering to the parks no one asked for it. Later we found out that that it was free the days we were there, because they were making a new system, and they started to cover the next day after we left. So we had luck, and this saved us for 100 USD!
Usually, you have to pay the 30.000 CLP per person, and there is no way without. But you can save 10 USD if you buy it at arrival at the airport. But then you have to pay in cash in CLP, as there are no ATMs at that side of the airport.
If you rent your own car, you might also be asked to bring a guide with you at the stop-points where they control the entry tickets to the park. We got to know an American couple that the guard did not let pass without a guide, and they suddenly got a guide in their car that they could not communicate with due to language barriers. Another American couple as well where stopped due to this, but where let pass without guide as they said it was their last day there. To us as well they said we needed a local Rapa Nui guide if we were returning tomorrow. But at all the other stop-points, no one said anything about a guide.
My point is if you would like to go without guide, and the island is very little and it is easy to find the things, so it is not needed for that, you can take the chance to pass the controls. But at the end, the couple that got the guide with them, did not end paying anything for it.
4. Transport to and from the airport
When travelling to Easter Island I recommend booking your hotel before arrival. This because the people from the hotel or hostel usually will pick you up at the airport. They also leave you at the airport when you leave. So you do not need to spend money on transport from and to the airport, as is included in the price.
Before travelling we did some research for find an affordable accommodation. Most of them were too expensive for our budget. We were thinking about taking the cheapest alternative which is camping (18 USD and 24 USD per person per night). But we did not find it too comfortable to stay in a tent.
We wanted a comfortable room, with a private bathroom. After searching on Airbnb, we found some alternatives that raged from 55-60 USD per night for two people, which could offer this.
We ended up with Hostal Mangai Rapa Nui, and we were very happy with that choice. It was very clean, comfortable, and had everything we needed. The only minus was that it was around 10 minutes’ walk to go to the center, and the Wifi did not work well. Sometimes not at all.
Food on the island is pretty expensive, and that is due to that they need to import all products from the outside. For a good meal you usually have to pay at least 10.000 CLP , which is 17 USD, not including drink. However, there are a few restaurant where you can go where they have good and cheaper food.
One of them is Resturant Tataku Vave which is located in el Puerto de hanga piko. They offer the dish of the day that is different kind of fresh fish for 5000 CLP (8 USD). It taste delicious, and you have a great view of the sea, and I can really recommend this restaurant.
There are also some bakeries that sells big empanadas for around 2000-3000 CLP. I recommended trying the one with tuna or shellfish.
A restaurant that we found affordable and we visited several times was Club Sandwich, located in the main street. Here they have big hotdogs for around 2000 CLP or hamburgers that a super big and keep you filled for the whole day for 4000 CLP.
Another thing we did was to cook in the hostel. We bought things in the supermarket, but they were not so cheap either. But we met others that brought food for the mainland that they prepared on the hostel. This is probably the way you can save the most, related to food. But make sure that your hostel have a kitchen you can use if you want to save money this way.
So it is still possible to travel to this fantastic place without needing to use too much. You just need to know some tricks 😉
How long should you stay?
I have also gotten a question from a reader on how much time it is needed to stay on the island for see everything worth to see. I would say that four days is perfect. Though the places is amazing, the island is very small, and in that time you can see everything that is worth to see, and as well do activates like hiking and diving. And I have to admit that after four days you start feeling a bit trapped, and you are actually a bit happy leaving the place. You feel that the waves are eating up the island, and that you need to get back to mainland. I am not sure if everyone would feel like this, but at least I did.
If you have any questions or want more tips about travelling to Easter Island, you are welcomed to ask them in comment box.