How to Travel Easter Island on a Tight Budget

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How to Travel Easter Island on a Tight Budget

Kristin Addis posing in from of the stone heads on Easter Island, South America
On the second Wednesday of the month, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes a guest column featuring tips and advice on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice for other solo female travelers! This article is applicable to everyone though!

In the movie 180° South, a guy from California sets sail to Patagonia, has ship trouble along the way, and gets marooned on Easter Island. Oddly, it was that movie that inspired me to want to visit Easter Island. After watching it, I needed to visit Easter Island and see it with my own eyes.

My week there was a mix of exploring the gorgeous coastline and walking around the mysterious Moai statues, marveling at their size and wondering how in the world people who only had access to stone tools could create something so massive. I sometimes wondered if there were as many horses as there were people, running all along the green grasses of the island and on the rugged coastline, full of volcanic rock and powerful waves.

I spent most of my days motor biking around the island, getting to know the locals and admiring the skills of the original settlers. The first people came to Easter Island around 300-400 A.D. The island is most famous for the 900 giant stone statues dotted around the island. Legend tells that the island used to be full of trees, and when climate change hit the island, locals built the Moai as a way of appeasing the gods, and eventually toppling each other’s statues over and warring as conditions worsened. However, much of this is just speculation.

But visiting this out of the way destination and seeing these statues has been a life long dream of mine.

Unfortunately, Easter Island is hideously expensive to visit because it’s so remote – over 3,700 kilometers away from Santiago, Chile. Very few crops grow here, there is very little “industry”, and nearly everything on the island is shipped from the mainland at great expense.

Geography means that the costs of good are high and it’s not the most budget friendly island in the world.

However, it’s not impossible to plan a budget trip there if you do so in advance:

How to get there

traveler sitting and looking at the pristine landscape on Easter Island
One of the biggest costs of visiting Easter Island is transport. There is just one airline that flies there — LAN — and it only flies once per day, departing from and returning to Santiago. That also means it can pretty much charge what it wants, which is usually $500-600 return, but with the following tips you might be able to cut it down:

  • Book ahead and go during off and shoulder seasons: You might get lucky and score something closer to $400 or even the coveted $300 if you go during a season that isn’t popular and book way ahead of time.
  • Stay for a while: It also really helps to stay for longer, like a week or more. For some reason the flights get really expensive if it’s a shorter trip. I realize that seems like a really long time in a place that expensive, but don’t worry, because we’ll make sure you’re covered with the advice below.
  • Check the price of business class: This may sound crazy if you’re trying to save money, but I personally scored biz class tickets for two pesos cheaper than economy class for my return flight. This seems to be somewhat common on these flights, as I saw it more than once while searching.
  • Use Google Flights’ calendar function: You can see the cheapest dates all month by using the fare calendar, then book directly on LAN’s website for the best fares.
  • Travel hack: LAN is a part of the Oneworld alliance and, though availability is rare, you can also get seats via points, so if you have miles on LAN, American Airlines, British Airways, or another partner, you can try to score a free flight.

There are occasional boats that sail to Easter Island from New Zealand or elsewhere in the South Pacific that take passengers, but they are priced incredibly high. At this time there is no public boat option from Chile’s mainland, mainly because Easter Island doesn’t have a harbor that can accommodate ships. Therefore, those who do sail there normally do so on private boats and drop anchor close to land.

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