Exactly three months ago we began our year-long journey around the world. We had mapped out our destinations, packed up our backpacks and set a strict budget of $100 per day, on average. We knew we could get by on less while in South America, but also knew that Easter Island, French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia, where we’ve been for the last six weeks, would push us to our limits. In order to keep a close eye on our spending habits, we keep a spreadsheet of every dime we spend. Our travel budget for three months on the road, breaks down like this:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.