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There are many reasons to visit Easter Island (Isla de Pascua – from Spanish), which is one of the most beautiful and remotely located islands on Earth.
One of them, is to obviously see the World-famous Moai statues, which have been carved and preserved exclusively on this very special island.
And another reason might be to get some deeper introduction to this ancient and mysterious Polynesian culture.
But whatever our own individual reasons are, one of the most common obstacles has always been: the money. We all heard it’s expensive. Like really expensive.
So, how can we get to this dream destination without taking a huge loan? Read on!
1. Buy your plane tickets in advance
Buy your air tickets at least 8-12 months before the trip. The minimum price for the roundtrip airfare to Easter Island is around $500 USD but it can go up to $1500 USD if you wait too long.
The only way you can currently get to the Easter Island is by taking a flight from Santiago’s (the capital of Chile) Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. That means you will have to buy at least two roundtrip air-tickets: one to Santiago and one to the Easter Island, unless you live in Santiago, of course.
Because of this, I would recommended you to combine your sightseeing of Easter Island with a quick 2-3 days stopover in Santiago – this way you will also be able to see two major attractions in Chile and not feel like you have spent “all this money” just to see Easter Island alone.
2. BYOF – Bring Your Own Food
The food on Easter Island is super expensive including the few available grocery shops that sell fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. But, you can load up on food in Santiago and bring it with you to Easter Island – yes you heard that right.
Since this is a domestic flight – you are allowed to bring food on board and pack it in your check-in luggage. So think about all the basic necessities that you might need (a pack of instant coffee, a pack of sugar, cereal for breakfast, a loaf of bread, a can of tuna for a snack, etc.) and stock up on them in Santiago.
The cheapest accommodations that you can find on the Easter Island are all in the price range from $60-$90 USD per night. And as is true with the first tip – book in advance! The earlier the better, as the best places tend to get booked up quicker.
As to the duration of your trip – the minimum amount of time that you will need to see the major sites on the Easter Island are 4 days, 3 nights (including arriving on the first day and leaving on the fourth). Therefore as a suggestion, you can plan to arrive on a Friday and leave on a Monday, or arrive on a Thursday and leave on a Sunday, and so on.
Because of the flights’ time schedule – you will be arriving to the island in the early afternoon around lunch time and leaving in the late afternoon and so you can squeeze in some attractions on those days as well.
You can also stay longer if you wish as there are a lot of things to see and do on the Easter Island.
P.S. Here are some other arrangements that you might consider:
- Airbnb (yep, it has already made it’s way to the island!)
- Camping – there are a few companies offering these services:
To save money on tours (and to have more flexibility in your choice of attractions and schedule) you can easily rent a car (or an ATV, a scooter or a bike!). The price range for renting a two doors, four seats SUV is about $45-$55 USD per 24 hours.
And if you don’t drive no problem… just make a new friend! In this case you can also split the cost of the rental and have a travel buddy or two, to explore the island with.
This option is best when you come prepared with some basic information about the island and the major sites.
5. Bring some local cash
There are only two ATMs on the whole island, both charging outrageous fees if you decide to dispense some cash from them. I paid around $7 USD to a local bank on a $100 USD (~ 60,000 Chilean Pesos) cash withdrawal (thankfully my own bank does not charge any foreign transaction fees). And you will definitely need cash when you come to this island – so you better bring enough from Santiago!
Even though credit and debit cards are now widely accepted throughout the island – there will be some instances when you will be required to pay for something with cash.
One example is the one-time “park fee” – this payment is required for everyone visiting Easter Island’s National Park, where most of the Moai statues are located. If you buy it in local currency – it costs $30,000 Chilean Pesos (around $45 USD), if you pay it in dollars – the price is $60 USD, and the same uneven exchange rate applies to most other cash transactions on the island – go figure!
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Have you been to Easter Island yet? Do you have your own tips and tricks to visit it on a budget? Please share them in the comments below!