Easter Island/Isla de Pascua/Rapa Nui:
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Most remote island in the world
- Home of the famous “bellybutton of the world,” the birdman cult, and the mysterious moai statues
Never heard of it? That’s ok, most people haven’t. But Easter Island is a stunning, remote and incredible island that officially belongs to Chile, although the indigenous Rapa Nui community claims independence. Considered the most remote island in the world, its culture is related to that of native Hawaiians and other Polynesian groups, but without the massive over tourism that has turned many of those cultures into tourist attractions. A five hour flight from Santiago, it is pretty difficult to get to from anywhere other than Chile, but if you’re in Santiago, it is an incredibly easy trip to plan. I was there for a week, and it was fantastic. I warn you though—it is an “outdoorsy” kind of trip. There are no five star resorts, only locally own hostels and family ranches. Activities available are pretty physical too—biking, hiking volcanoes, camping, horseback riding, scuba diving and snorkeling to name a few. If you are looking for a week on the beach, this is not the place to go. If, however, you’re looking for an incredibly unique travel experience (I’m still the only person I know outside my travel group who’s has been to Easter Island), getting to know an incredibly ancient culture and enjoying some outdoor activities, you can’t do better than this!
Planning is pretty simple—
- LAN Chile is the only airline that flies to the island. Roundtrip tickets typically run between $200-300 and go throughout the week. Book the ticket early, since there are limited daily flights.
- Hanga Roa is the main (and really only) town on the island. There are multiple hostels and campsites just outside the town and is probably the best and easiest place to stay. I recommend booking at least your first couple of nights, but you may decide to do some camping so leave yourself some flexibility.
- Be prepared for higher costs of food on the island since almost everything needs to be flown from the “mainland.” I would buy some basic staples in Santiago (bread, breakfast stuff, even water) to avoid having to pay the higher prices on the island. Definitely go to the grocery store though, since it’s the only one on the island and a great way to meet locals.
- I’m usually not a huge fan of the guided tour, but I do recommend it for the island. In one day you can get around the entire island, see all the main sites and learn about the culture and history of the island, and then plan to go back to your favorite places later on.
Only locals can own land or be employed on the island, so wherever you end up, your guides and hosts will all be Rapa Nui individuals with a great pride in their heritage. I highly recommend this trip if you plan on spending any time in Chile—it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
– Stephanie Roberts, DUSA Peer Advisor