If you want to sail there, some travelers successfully volunteer as crew as a cheap or free way to travel.
Where to stay
You have three affordable options if you’re traveling to Easter Island: book a hostel dorm bed way ahead of time, as there are few and they fill up quickly; camp in a tent; or rent an apartment on either Airbnb or Booking.com.
If you want to stay for free there, Couchsurfing is also an option but there are only 50-60 hosts on the island, so connect them well in advance.
If renting an apartment: Many places on Easter Island are cabana-style and can accommodate up to seven or eight people. When split among that many people, they end up costing each person less than $20 per night.
If it’s low season, I recommend only booking one or two nights on Booking.com and then working out a deal directly with the owner to stay for the remaining days. Since booking.com takes a cut of profits, ask if they can pass on a discount to you if you cut out the middleman. It’s nice to have the place booked when you land, though, since they almost always include a free airport pickup in the price, but thereafter try to work out something cheaper.
If you’re camping: There are a few camping grounds on Easter Island that also offer hostel-style accommodation for pretty cheap. I personally recommend Tipie Moana (but book ahead of time, as they fill up!).
If you already have camping gear, bring it along! You’re allowed to check two bags for free on flights to Easter Island as long as they total 25kg or less.
If hosteling: There are a few hostel-style accommodation options for $25+ per night, which is among the cheapest you’ll find on Easter Island. Some of the best are Vaianny Guest House, Hostel Petero Atamu, Kona Tau, and Casa de Fatima Hotu. (You can also check out private rooms on Airbnb but most rooms there run closer to $50+ per night.)
What to eat and drink
Eating meals out gets super expensive on Easter Island because it all has to be brought in from mainland Chile, so cut out the middleman and bring your food yourself! I went to the island with one other person and between us, with some clever cooking, I was able to feed us all with just the food brought from the mainland. Here was my list:
- 1 bag of small onions
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 red peppers
- 2 handfuls of button-top mushrooms
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 potatoes
- 5 carrots
- 1 eggplant
- 2 beetroots
- nuts and fruits for snacks
- 1 packet of turmeric for curry
- 1 garlic clove
- 8 packets of dried beef broth
- 1 loaf of rye bread
- 1 small packet of mayonnaise
- 2 packets of salami and ham (the sandwiches only lasted for two days)
- 1 kilo of brown rice
- 1/2 kilo of lentils
- 1 bag of oatmeal
- 1 kilo of milk powder
- 1 packet of milo (chocolate powder)
- 1 small bottle of sunflower oil
- 1 small can of coconut cream
- 2 bottles of wine
The total cost for all of that was about $130, meaning we spent an average of $4.65 per meal per person, plus wine! I alternated the meals between a vegetarian Thai yellow curry, fried rice, lentil soup, beetroot salad, and potato salad. I had to substitute ingredients for all of the recipes, but it all turned out delicious!
Put the food in a box or an extra backpack and check it with the rest of your luggage. Remember that since you can check two bags (25 kilos total), you’ll have room to bring both the food and your belongings.