Easter Island Itinerary 72 Hours on Rapa Nui JetSettingFools.com

Easter Island Itinerary: 72 hours on Rapa Nui

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We had long wanted to travel to Easter Island – the most remote island in the world. Not only were we intrigued by the isolation of the landmass, but even more so by the fascinating past and mystery of Easter Island (called Rapa Nui by the natives). We wanted to see the stone moai – the most popular of all Easter Island attractions – and learn about the Easter Island culture. On our trip around the world, we decided to take a few days (call it a long layover) to visit the island on our way from the Chilean mainland to French Polynesia. We are sharing our Easter Island itinerary to help other travelers plan their trip.

Sunsetting on three moai platforms at Tahai on Easter Island JetSettingFools.com

 

Easter Island Itinerary

On our Easter Island trip, we were intent on discovering the island on our own, but in the end, succumbed to joining one of the Easter Island tours – and we are stoked that we did. The island, which closely resembles a triangle, is larger than we first assumed and sights are located around the island. We based ourselves in Hanga Roa, the main Easter Island town situated in the southwestern part of the island, which is ideal for sightseeing and Easter Island activities.

 

Day 1 (half day):

Check into your lodgings (tips on Easter Island accommodation below) and get settled in, then head into the center of Hanga Roa.

The main thoroughfare in town, where you will find simple grocery stores, restaurants and souvenir shops, is Atamu Tekena Avenue. Also in the city is a museum and Catholic church. The Holy Cross Catholic Church was established in 1937. The unusual design incorporates unique island décor into the traditional Catholic foundation. The church is open to visitors and has masses in Spanish.

Along the waterfront is a small harbor, Hanga Roa Otai, which is filled with colorful, bobbing fishing boats. There is a diving company at the harbor that provides tours. Nearby is Plaza Hotu Matu’a, named for the first settler and king of Rapa Nui. A moai stands in his honor, but it wasn’t placed there until the 1930s and faces out to sea, which isn’t how the moai were positioned.  

Before sunset, walk north along the coast toward Tahai, which boasts seven standing moai on three platforms. One platform, Ahu Vai Uri, has five standing moai and the other two platforms – Ahu Tahai and Ahu Ko Te Riku –  each have a single moai. Additionally, there are preserved remains of traditional ‘boat houses’ and the grave of archeologist Mulloy, who helped restore the moai on Easter Island. Find a place on the hill to spread out a blanket (or just sit on the grass) and watch the sun sink into the horizon behind the standing moai. {Read more about Sunsets at Tahai}

Note: Watching the sunset at Tahai was one of our favorite things to do in Easter Island – so much so that we spent each evening there watching the sun go down.

{If you prefer to learn about a place with a tour guide, there is a Hanga Roa, Easter Island city tour.}

 

Day 2:

On the second day of your Easter Island vacation, venture beyond Hanga Roa. Explore Easter Island tourist attractions and learn the history of Rapa Nui on one of the Easter Island day tours. Most tours of Easter Island are led by native Easter Island guides who have in-depth knowledge of the place and people, as well as the many legends of the land. Learn interesting facts about Easter Island as you visit the restored moai platforms – including Tongariki, the largest platform with 15 standing moai, and Rano Raraku, the quarry from which all moai were carved. The Rapa Nui tour should include a visit to Anakena, one of the best Easter Island beaches and one of the top historical sights on the island. {Read more about our Full-Day Easter Island Tour}

Note: In our opinion, an Easter Island holiday is not complete without taking this tour!

 

Day 3:

On the third day of your Easter Island visit, pack a picnic lunch and lace up your walking shoes to tour Easter Island on your own. While hiking Easter Island, you will pass the Hanga Piko harbor, then descend into Ana Kai Tangata, one of the many Easter Island caves. Next, follow the trail through a forest of Eucalyptus trees and ascend to Rano Kau, an extinct Easter Island volcano near the coast. Continue on to the southwestern tip of the island to visit Orongo, the cliff-top dwellings from which the Birdman Competition was watched. {Read more details in Hike Easter Island}

Note: Many historic facts about Easter Island – especially concerning the moai – are unsubstantiated, as there are no existing records of what occurred. There is written documentation, however, about the tribal Birdman Competition.

{Rather than hiking, travelers can join a guided, half-day tour to Ana Kai Tangata, Rano Kau and Orongo.}

 

Day 4 (half day):

On your last morning on Easter Island, spend time walking along the western coast of the island and relaxing by the water. Alternatively, join a half-day tour to Ahu Akivi – seven identical moai – and other sites before heading back to the airport.

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Easter Island Map

Easter Island map of sights JetSettingFools.com

Link to an Easter Island Map and sights on Google Maps.

 

Top Tips for your trip to Easter Island

 

Easter Island Facts

Country: Easter Island became a Chilean territory in 1988 (and is called Isla de Pascua in Spanish).

Natives: The island’s first settlers were Polynesian and the native descendants are called Rapa Nui (as is the island).

Easter Island Population: 5,800

Easter Island Language: The official language is Spanish; however, Rapa Nui – a Polynesian language – is spoken by the Rapa Nui people.

Easter Island Currency: Chilean Peso

 

Easter Island National Park

Easter Island National Park (officially called Rapa Nui National Park) encompasses the entire island and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A ticket is required to enter the park, although you will most likely only be asked to show your ticket at two main sites: Orongo and Rano Raraku. The ticket costs $60 USD (although it may be going up to $80) and is valid for five days. Tickets can be purchased at Mataveri (the Easter Island airport) upon arrival.

 

Getting to Easter Island

The Mataveri International Airport is the only airport on the island and is the most remote airport in the world (located 2,336 miles from Santiago, Chile). All flights to Easter Island are serviced by LATAM. There are only two routes: Santiago to Easter Island and Papeete (Tahiti) to Easter Island. There are daily Easter Island flights to and from Santiago. The flight duration from Chile to Easter Island is about 5 hours. Trips to Easter Island from Papeete are weekly – on Monday – and take 6 hours.

Start your search for Easter Island flights on FlightHub and use the Flexible Dates tab to find the cheapest day to fly to Easter Island. For more on booking flights, go to our Transportation Resources page.

 

Getting around Easter Island

Easter Island transportation is limited to private vehicles (taxis or local car rentals), Easter Island excursions, bicycling and walking – as there is no public transportation on Easter Island.

To get to and from the Easter Island airport, visitors can take taxis or book shared transfers, however, check if your accommodations include transport from the airport.

Note: Some Easter Island packages may be all-inclusive of island transportation.

 

Where to Stay on Easter Island

Keu Henua Eco Hostal Easter Island, JetSettingFools.com

When we were looking for places to stay in Easter Island, we were searching for affordable lodging within walking distance to the city center. We found a hostel that fit our price range; however, we waited until we arrived to book lodging due to our situation of flying as stand-by passengers (which you can read about here) and the infrequent flights. When we arrived at the Easter Island airport, lodging representatives collecting guests (and hoping for visitors in need of a room, like us) stood beyond the baggage carousel. We found the booth for our desired Easter Island hostel, but were informed they had no more rooms available.

As luck would have it, the owner of Keu Henua Eco-Hostal was at the next booth and not only did she have a room with private bath, but it included breakfast and wifi. There was also a shared kitchen on site and she would drive us to and from the airport. The property was well-located between the city center and Tahai and the room was spacious and comfortable.

We loved our stay at Keu Henua (more about our Easter Island accommodations here), but there are many Easter Island hotels, vacation homes and guesthouses to choose from. We recommend starting a search on Booking.com or comparing hotel prices with HotelsCombined. There are also ample Airbnb apartments on Easter Island.

For more tips on booking lodging, go to our Accommodation Resources page.

 

Easter Island Food

Tuna steak common Easter Island food, JetSettingFools.com

As Easter Island is extremely isolated, there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to eating. Most restaurants serve seafood and pizzas. Empanadas are a good choice as an inexpensive, quick snack or fast food option. Grocery stores offer basic food supplies, but most items come at an increased cost for shipping them to the island. To avoid the high fees, many travelers bring non-perishable food with them from Santiago.

 

Easter Island Cost

Easter Island Currency Chilean Pesos, JetSettingFools.com

Easter Island is expensive, there is no doubt about it. Flights to the remote location, very few budget accommodations, zero public transportation and few cheap food options may have many travelers asking, “Is Easter Island worth it?!” Yes! It is!

While there are some increased costs to everyday items, a vacation to Easter Island doesn’t have to break the bank. Holidays to Easter Island in the off-season can save you a bundle – just be mindful of the typical weather (January to March is the peak season, while July and August are the chilliest) and plan accordingly. Your Easter Island trip cost can vary significantly based on the length of your Easter Island itinerary and your plans of what to do on Easter Island.

When we traveled to Rapa Nui, we were on an extremely small budget. We visited Easter Island in the shoulder season and only spent about $115 USD per day for two people, including all expenses (except flights). We took advantage of the hostel kitchen to keep our food costs down (and made very, very simple meals). Rather than booking tours to all the sights, we got a good guidebook and only booked one tour (although, we do regret not seeing Ahu Akivi…next time!).

Note: If you plan on taking several tours, booking multiple tours with the same operator may earn you a discount – like the Easter Island Super Saver tour!

 

More Things to do on Easter Island

The majority of Easter Island things to do revolve around the history and legends of the Rapa Nui people, which we found absolutely fascinating (if you find the subject to be equally intriguing, taking tours on Easter Island with certified, local guides may suit you). However, water enthusiasts may want to spend more time at the beach and participating in more adventurous Easter Island activities, like snorkeling, diving and surfing. For those who like to be on two wheels, there are companies that offer bike rentals, just be warned: Easter Island is a volcanic island…meaning there are steep inclines and cyclists share the roads with cars.

 

Easter Island Itinerary Options

We’ve outlined a 72-hour Easter Island itinerary that visits all the top Easter Island attractions, however we know not everyone plans to spend 3 days in Easter Island. With less time, here are sample Easter Island itineraries:

24 hours in Easter Island: Day 1 same as above. Day 2: Half-day (morning) tour to Orongo or Ahu Akivi – or hire a private guide to take you to the sights you most want to see.

48 hours in Easter Island: Day 1: Same as above. Day 2: Full-Day Easter Island tour. Day 3: Half-day (morning) tour to Orongo or Ahu Akivi.

 

Easter island Vacation Packages

There are Easter Island travel packages – like this Easter Island 4-Day Tour – that bundle accommodations, transportation, meals and tours which may work best for you and your Easter Island itinerary.

 

Easter Island Essentials

  • Pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip to Easter Island. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • The history of Easter Island is fascinating! Make sure to bring a good guidebook.
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.

Start planning your trip to Easter Island! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

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We want to know: What would you add to our Easter Island itinerary? Share your tips in the comments below!

 

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