Budget Island Accommodations: Easter Island and Moorea

With limited flights to Easter Island and on to Tahiti – always a risk for standby passengers – we were quite unsure if we would make it to either destination. Not wanting to be on the hook for accommodations we couldn’t use, we waited until we arrived to book our accommodations. We had a few places in mind, but options – budget options – were limited. As it turned out, we found budget island accommodations on both Easter Island and Moorea.

Budget Island Accommodations: Easter Island

On the recommendation of several previous budget travelers, we had picked Tojika Hostal as our desired choice for budget island accommodations on Easter Island. Upon arrival at the airport, we were pleasantly surprised to see they had a booth at baggage claim and we made a beeline for it. Unfortunately, their ‘Matrimonial Room’ was booked, as was the rest of the hostel.

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Sunsets on Easter Island at Tahai

I loved everything about Rapa Nui (ok, maybe not the rain), but what I loved most was watching the sunsets on Easter Island at Tahai. We were lucky to catch amazing sunsets all four nights we stayed on Easter Island. Tahai is the well-known spot to catch the sun’s last rays of the day – and it was just a short walk from our cabana at Keu Henua Hostel.

There are three platforms of moai: Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Tahai and Ahu Ko Te Riku, as well as remains of boat houses (named for their shape), chicken coop caves and the grave of archeologist Mulloy, who is credited for much of the restoration on the island.

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Easter Island Full Day Tour to 6 Moai Platforms JetSettingFools.com

Easter Island full day tour: 6 moai platforms

We almost skipped an organized tour of the island’s top spots and rented bikes to do the tour on our own. When I finally grasped the size of the island, saw that it was dotted with volcanic mountains and cinder cones, and got a sharp reminder from Kris that I’m not Lance-freaking-Armstrong, we opted for an Easter Island full day tour.  

The all-day bus tour lasted from 9:15am until 4:30pm, made stops at six moai platform sights and included an English speaking guide for $45 per person. (Lunch was a self-provided brown bag lunch.) We were the only Americans on our tour, but our Rapa Nui tour guide was fluent in English and able to translate his passion about his people, land and history.

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Hike Easter Island JetSettingFools.com

Hike Easter Island: Ana Kai Tangata, Rano Kau and Orongo

The southwestern tip of Easter Island is stunningly scenic and has heaps of post-moai history on the island. The main points of interest can be seen via car or tour bus, but to hike Easter Island is the best experience. On our Easter Island hike, we visited many areas that are part of the UNESCO listed Rapa Nui National Forest.

We left the main town, Hanga Roa, to the south and passed several restored moai before coming to the Ana Kai Tangata cave, then the started the gradual climb to Rano Kau crater and on to Orongo on top of 1000-foot cliffs. It took some a bit of leg and lung power, but well worth the opportunity to take in the magnificent viewpoints.

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40 Easter Island Photos: Our first 36 hours

Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Isla de Pascua, Naval of the World – whatever you call it, it’s simply magical. Since we have arrived a day and a half ago, we’ve taking a copious number of Easter Island photos; the scenery is beyond what we imagined. Already in our short time here we’ve twice witnessed the sun drop below the horizon at Tahai, with seven Moai staring back at us. We walked the streets of Hanga Roa. We hiked to the top of crater Rano Kau, one of the most breathtaking views of nature on the island and, possibly, in the world. We visited Orongo, a cluster of ancient homes that stand at the end of the world, nothing but ocean as far as we could see.Rather than a feeble attempt to find words worthy of describing it, I’ll show you instead.

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Easter Island: Idyllic Isolation

Easter Island is known for many things – its mysterious history, the Moai protectors and as being the most isolated place on earth. What it is not known for is speedy internet connections (which, incidently, seem to have a strong dislike for picture laden blog posts).

Update: We’ve finally been able to post photos! Click here to see 40 Easter Island Photos from our first 36 hours on the island. 

Therefore, instead of spending our precious hours in this enchanted paradise watching as pictures almost upload followed by yet another error message, we are tossing in the towel on a blog post until we can find a faster connection.

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Breaking Down our Travel Budget JetSetting Fools

Breaking down the travel budget: 44 days in South America

By nature, I’m a saver, but now that we are travelling full-time without any income, we’ve become spenders. As the self-appointed CFO of our Jetsetting Fools operation, we are spenders on a budget of $100 per day – total for both of us. Our major categories of expenses are: Accommodations, Food, Drinks, On-ground Transportation, Entertainment, Medical, and Miscellaneous. After 44 days in South America, we’re breaking down our travel budget.

Breaking down our travel budget: Lodging

Total Spent: $2,001 USD / Average Daily Spent: $45.47 USD

Accommodations account for more than half of our total spent. Our most expensive stay of $63 per night was at the Hotel Weisserhaus in Puerto Varas, where we stayed for two nights. We ranked it as having the most comfortable bed, biggest bathroom and – as a bonus – it included a fabulous, filling breakfast complete with French press coffee. Our least expensive room was a studio apartment in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires at $38 a night. While it was a studio, it was quite spacious with a kitchenette, dining table, and sitting area. The bonus: everything in it was brand new.

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What to Eat in Santiago Chile JetSetting Fools

What to eat in Santiago, Chile while on a budget

Much like Uruguay and Argentina, eating and drining in Santiago de Chile is expensive if consuming meals at restaurants. The ‘budget friendly’ suggestions are, perhaps, less than other places, but sometimes still not in line with our budget. We sought out the local options of what to eat in Santiago, Chile as those places were sure to be our best budget options. However, we quickly learned that wasn’t always the case.  

What to eat in Santiago, Chile: Local, ‘budget’ recommendations

Letting myself fall into the trap of restaurant reviews, I was drooling over a Lomito Completo sandwich. According to such reviews – the Lomito served at Fuente Alemana was a local favorite and was not to be missed in Santiago. This long-time Santiago institution is a basic diner, with only women working at the joint. Meat (sliced pork, in the case of the lomito) is cooked in plain sight on the side grill, then topping it with a gag-reflex-inducing amount of dripping mayonnaise, guacamole, tomatoes, sauerkraut and other toppings.

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4 Must Visit Markets of Santiago de Chile JetSettingFools.com

4 Markets of Santiago de Chile

On our last day in Santiago we wanted to experience a little of life with the locals and that means visiting the markets of Santiago de Chile. The four, biggest, warehouse-sized markets are within walking distance from our airbnb apartment, so we set off early in the afternoon with the intent of perusing the goods and then partaking in lunch.

Markets of Santiago de Chile: Central Mercado

The Central Mercado, where we had been before, is all about fish. The center plays host to the touristy (meaning expensive) fresh fish restaurants, while the take-it-home-and-cook-it-yourself whole fish option can be purchased around the perimeter. On the outside perimeter of the building is where the locals dine on fried fish and plates of seafood – for much less than on the inside.

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Undurraga Winery JetSetting Fools

Drink Wine Tuesday: Undurraga Winery and Torremotos

If Saturday was ‘Get Stuff Done Day,’ then I proclaim today to be ‘Drink Wine Tuesday.’ It’s no secret that we’ve long had a love affair with red wine and no better place in South America to have such love than in Chile. This long, skinny country has nearly 500 wineries balanced between the shores and the mountains. Undurraga Winery, an award-winning, yet unpretentious winery, is just a 30 minute bus ride away from Santiago.

Drink Wine Tuesday: Undurraga Winery

Being that it is off-season (for both the city and the vineyard), our tour consisted of just the two of us and David, our tour guide. He showed us the grounds, explained the history, soil and process and finished it all off with a fantastic tasting of wine produced at Undurraga Winery.

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