Living in complete isolation on one of the loneliest islands in the worlds, Easter Island remains one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Nearly 1,000 strange monolithic moai statues raised on 300 temples by a primitive culture whose ancient oral history has completely vanished, a visit to Easter Island is an incredibly thought-provoking experience that reaches far beyond the norms of travel.
Easter Island’s peak tourist season is during the southern hemisphere’s summer months between December – March. The January/February school holiday season is particularly busy and during these summer months, the temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius and humidity relatively high. The first half of February is also the month of the annual Tapati festival, a celebration of Rapa Nui culture.
April and May are usually the rainiest months in the year, with relatively low temperatures extending all the way to November. If you want to avoid both the high season prices and the chilly/wet weather, the best time to visit Easter Island is between October to December.
By Air: Easter Island has one airport just outside the island’s only town – Hanga Roa. LATAM operates daily flights from Santiago and a weekly flight to/from Tahiti in French Polynesia.
By Cruise: quite a few cruise ships include Easter Island in their itinerary, usually combining the journey with other stops in remote Pacific Islands. Keep in mind that you’ll be ferried to the island by tender boats as no proper port exists on the island.
By Yacht: even if you don’t own a yacht, you could hitch a ride with cruisers in need of a hand. Try your luck in various forums but do remember that sailing in this part of the world can be rough, with passages taking several days from one patch of the land to the next.
All accommodations on Easter Island are in and around the only settlement on the island – Hanga Roa. Accommodations range from backpacker style and even camping (check out Hostal Tojika) to luxury resorts such as Explora and high-end lodges such as Altiplanico. In the mid-range category, you’ll find Hotel Iorana, Hotel Puku Vai, Hotel O’tai, Vai Moana, and Hotel Manavai.
You can technically see all the major Easter Island highlights in two full days of touring but it will be a rush, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate. I recommend spending a minimum of three full days on the island and up to five days if possible. This should leave ample time for taking it slow, having time for reflection in the most moving sites and even some time for a hike or an adventure activity such as scuba diving or horseback riding. Check out these three and four day Easter Island itineraries.
Easter Island is relatively small so getting from one point to another should not take up too much time.
Organized tours: If you’re traveling as part of an organized group or a cruise, you’ll be ferried across the island in small buses accompanied by local guides who should have a good degree of knowledge about the ancient history and oral history. They can definitely also provide context to present-day life on the island.
Renting a car: the best way in my opinion for exploring Easter Island is by renting a car and independently visiting the top sites Driving is fairly simple: there’s just one gas station, they drive on the right side and there aren’t too many roads so getting lost is highly unlikely.
Cycling: renting a bicycle is another great way of exploring Easter Island, just be mindful of road conditions.
Horseback: if you’re into riding horses, you can book several tours and explore some of the more remote corners of Easter Island.
On foot: some sites can be easily reached on a short walk from Hanga Roa such as Ahu Tahai, the museum, and the “Cannibal Cave”.