Eastern Islands remoteness and mystic statues lure numerous tourists each year. In December, we managed to get a great deal on round-trip tickets to the island (450$ instead of the regular 700+$ tickets), and also found out we would be visiting the island during the traditional Tapati festival. Apart from visiting the world famous Moai statues, we would now also experience the islands’ culture in the best way possible.
Visiting Easter Island on a budget requires preparation: food prices are through the roof, mainly because (apart from fish, which will set you back only 30$) everything has to be shipped from Santiago. We saw a woman purchasing three juiceboxes, an onion, bottle of water, and sausagespread for 12$! Therefore, we did what all the locals do when coming from the mainland: buy a cooler, and bring all the items yourself. We did a lot of groceries in Punta Arenas, emptied one of our backpacks, and filled it with a full weeks’ worth of groceries.
Also, instead of staying at a hostel or hotel, we decided to take the plunge and camp for a week instead. This cost us only 22$ a night, compared to 50+$ for an actual room. It is worth noting that, after three nights of getting burned out of your tent because of the heat, we managed to get a small room at the camping for only 3$ a night more. A great deal!
We found that the best way to get around the island was by car. We rented a car for one day and were able to see all the highlights of the island. It was quite expensive as are most things on the island, plus rentals come without insurance, so on the second day we rented a scooter instead to explore the beaches some more. This worked perfectly fine, as it only takes half an hour to drive to the other side of the island. We explored both Anakena and Ovahe Beach, but we thought that although Anakena was better for swimming because of the calm waters, Ovahe Beach was better for sunbathing as the surrounding cliffs protected agains sand blowing in your face.
Apart from the amazing Moai statues scattered throughout the island, another highlight of our stay was the Tapati Festival during which we were able to see dance, cooking, and fishing competitions as well as an entertaining parade at the end, where locals and foreigners danced and sang along each other in nothing but a thong, while holding on to their ice cold beers in the summer heat.
Because we brought most of the food ourselves, we only ate out once to try the local fish. Delicious! We did also treat ourselves to numerous (maybe too many?) ice creams as they were the only decently priced items. All in all, we found that three days was plenty of time to explore the island and keep you busy until around 8, when it starts to cool off. After six days we were happy to return to the city of Santiago, but it was an amazing experience we wouldn’t trade for anything.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.