How to Visit Easter Island Without Spending a Lot of Money

Posted By Jeremy in South America


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. By using our affiliate links we will receive a small commission that helps us run our sites.

“Is it possible to visit Easter Island without spending a lot of money?”

This is a question we’ve been asked quite frequently since our trip to the island in March 2014.

To answer this question in a single statement, the best we can say this:  It depends on what you define as “a lot“.

If you are looking at spending under $50/day, Easter Island will not be the place to visit unless you happen to fall within a very unique circumstance that we’ll talk about later on.  For those who have a slightly higher budget, there are still many ways to get to this remote and mysterious destination without breaking the bank too much.

The Most Expensive Item on an Easter Island Visit

Visit Easter Island - Ahu Tongariki

It should go without saying that getting to a destination that is home to the most remote airport in the world will cost a pretty penny.  But as it turns out, the price you’ll spend for airfare is entirely linked to when you buy your ticket.

Generally speaking, a round-trip ticket from Santiago in economy class starts at around $580.  This is the price for the least flexible ticket, booked as early as possible.  Prices rise rapidly as the date of travel draws closer as these flights always sell out, so waiting for a deal is a bad idea.  They just don’t happen.

We purchased our ticket about 5 weeks out for $725 per-person round-trip.  For departures just a few days before this, prices were as high as $1,400 and only got higher as you get closer to the departure date!

The only way to avoid this charge is by purchasing an around the world plane ticket from the oneworld alliance that includes the South Pacific and South America.  If you time it right, you can jump on the LAN Airlines’ weekly flight from Tahiti and continue on to Santiago without any extra spending!  (This is the only way that those with a $50/day budget may get close).

To check current airfare prices, head over to Skyscanner or Airfarewatchdog to find the best deals. When searching, don’t forget to break up segments to buy flights directly from Santiago instead of a long-haul from your home destination. It may end up being cheaper!

Hotels on Easter Island

Our one Easter Island splurge, a nice room.

As Hanga Roa is one of the smallest “cities” you’ll ever see, and the flights in are always full, you can imagine that hotels are quite expensive.

Most budget hotels begin pricing at about $80/night and rise quite rapidly to $100/night or more.  We stayed at Hotel Tea Nui, a very nice budget hotel with free breakfast for about $90/night. Compared to some of the reviews we read for the $80/night properties, this one was a significant upgrade for a very small spending increase.

For those looking to save more money, Camping Mihinoa is located on the outskirts of Hanga Roa about 10-15 minutes from town and is a very affordable option with a stellar view of the ocean.  If you have your own camping gear, prices begin at around $10 per person.  For just $1-$2 more they will provide you with tents and sleeping pads.

This property does have basic dorms and private rooms for quite affordable rates (much cheaper than other hotels), but be prepared to book early as they are the first to fill up. Their rooms were fully booked when we were looking for hotels!

To search for the best hotels on Easter Island, click here to compare prices at HotelsCombined.

Note:  We visited Easter Island during the shoulder season in late March.  Prices may be higher earlier in the year during peak travel when LAN Airlines has two daily flights from Santiago instead of one.

Food on Easter Island

Ceviche at a nice restaurant, ~$30.

Eating on Easter Island is the most talked about and, to be quite honest, also the most overblown.  We were thoroughly prepared for everything to be outside of our budget such that we had to cook every night, but found that this was not the case.

Pre-packaged food items that are brought in from Chile only have a small premium of roughly 10-25%.  The real issue with buying foods on Easter Island is due to the 300% mark-up on perishable foods like fruits, bread, and other fresh items.  These are the foods you need to watch out for because they all come from the mainland and are rushed to the island before they go bad!

Moai of Easter Island

It is because of this that it is recommended to bring as much fresh snack items as you can from Santiago in your checked luggage as the airport custom staff really do not seem to care (now if you return to Chile with that same fruit, that is another story).  If you do not bring your own food to Easter Island, you might as well go out to eat because cooking your own meals with fresh ingredients will not save you very much money.

Giant Sandwich at a Fast Food Stall, ~$10

So how much are restaurants?

Restaurants on Easter Island typically range from $15 to $30 per entree, with most seafood starting at around $22 per plate with very generous serving sizes.  These prices aren’t too bad, especially considering where you are at, but definitely add up fast compared to mainland Chile.   We highly recommend the seafood if you do go out for a splurge because it will be the freshest of all the ingredients on your plate thanks to the local fishermen!

There are also a few “fast food” shacks located near the soccer/football field in town that serve giant hot dogs (with real meat), sandwiches, and empanadas for around $6 to $10 per item.  The latter price is for one “As” sandwich that is large enough for two people!  These are truly great values for Easter Island which we visited several times during our stay.

Other Easter Island Travel Tips

Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki

Upon arrival to Easter Island, you must purchase a $60 ticket to enter the national park which also covers entry into the quarry and Orongo village (both must sees).  This ticket is obligatory if you want to leave Hanga Roa as the entire island is considered to be the national park.  Although no one stopped to look at our ticket outside of the two attractions it gains entry to, we’re told rangers can stop anyone at anytime and ask for it.

From here, the two options you have to explore the island and see the beautiful moai are to either take a full-day guided tour (~$80 per person) or rent a car. (For more photos of the moai, click the previous link.)

We rented a car from Insular Rent-a-Car which has rates that typically start from $70/day for a manual transmission and just over $110/day for an automatic. For us, we can easily say that driving on Easter Island is your best option as the guided tours give you very little time at the attractions as they shuttle you around the island.  If you’re already spending $600+ just to get to the island, only having 15-25 minutes at each of the famous spots is not worth it!

Although we spent 6 days on Easter Island, we only rented a car for three of those days as a means to keep our spending down (the remaining days we explored on foot outside of Hanga Roa and never ran out of things to do).  For those on an even tighter budget, two days would be the minimum you need to rent a car, although you would not be covered if it rains and you get delayed.  Plus, you will definitely want to return to all the moai for a second visit.  Trust us on that.

But lets look at the cost of that, shall we?

For three days in an automatic car, that will cost $330 plus gas (which is actually very affordable at $5.50 per gallon- we only spent about $50!).  A guided tour for two on the island will cost $160, or about half of the car’s price.

So what can you do to get the cost of your car rental down?  Split it with some new friends! 

We were lucky in that a few friends were visiting Easter Island over the same dates and split the car with us.  Although timing worked out great for us, they were staying at the campsite we mentioned above and said there were no shortage of other couples looking to go in on a car with travelers to explore the island.

If you can make friends while on Easter Island to share your car rental with, the cost of a three day rental may end up being no more expensive than an ultra-rushed one day tour.

Keep in mind car insurance is not provided on Easter Island. If you are worried about renting a car, purchasing additional travel insurance may be a good idea.

Tally of the Costs

Sunset at Easter Island

In previous updates we’ve said that our spending on Easter Island for 6 days was around $3,000 for the two of us.  We did not go entirely on the cheap and had a few splurges that increased our out-of-pocket cost over the ways we discussed in this article.

So if you are looking to go on the cheap, how low can you get your price? Lets find out what a 6-night visit to Easter Island would cost at a minimum:

  • Airfare: $580 (Assuming you do not have a RTW ticket)
  • Camping: $72 (Assuming you do not have camping gear)
  • Food: $100 (Assuming you bring food from Chile and eat at the fast food stalls once a day).
  • Car: $95-$190 (Assuming you find friends to split the cost to at least half)
  • Park Fee: $60
  • Souvenirs: $50 (You will buy something, for sure)
  • Total Cost: $957-$1,052

A six-day stay on Easter Island will likely cost around $1,000 per person at the cheapest of travel options, unless you have an RTW ticket that gets you there for free in which case the price will be around $500.

When we share our splurges, you can see the differences immediately. Our airfare was more expensive by about $125 per person, we spent about $480 more on a proper hotel, and spent an extra $250 on food by eating at nice restaurants three times plus a few snack splurges here and there as we did not bring much from Santiago.

Those minor difference are all it takes to increase your Easter Island travel spending by 50%!

For those who plan accordingly, and are willing to downgrade the accommodation choice during a stay on the island, a lower price will be your reward.

You Must Go

If you are on the fence about traveling to Easter Island due to the cost, all we have to say is this: it is worth it. Easter Island is truly a magical place that seems almost untouched by tourism at times.  If you head out with a rental car and let the guided tours pass by, you’ll likely find yourself alone with the moai at every single stop.

Can you say the same for any other destination in the world?

We don’t think so.

We’d like to thank our friends at Insular Rent-a-Car for the discounted car rental during our stay on Easter Island.  We had a great time exploring the island in our car and highly recommend checking them out!

Looking to visit Easter Island? Check out our recommendations on how many days you need on Easter Island and Easter Island hotels to get started with your planning today!

Pin It!

Like this article? Pin the image below to share with other travel addicts!

Easter Island on Pinterest

Like This Post? Share It on Social Media!

Get a Free Copy of The Long-Term Traveler's Guide!

Sign up for our newsletter to receive a free PDF download of our first book, The Long-Term Traveler's Guide! Our newsletter is sent out every week and contains our newest posts and other special features!

Book Your Trip to South America



First Time Here?

Check out our Top 100 travel experiences from two long-term trips and over two years on the road!

Travel Store

30 Comments

  1. Can I rent a tent at the camp site without making a reservation in advance ?
    How far is the camp site from major towns ?

    Post a Reply
    • Everything in Easter Island requires advanced reservation, including the camp site. The island itself is only 6 miles long and has one small town that can be walked in about 10 minutes max. The camp site is about 5 minutes away from town on foot.

      Post a Reply
  2. I and my friend plan to go Easter island this year. Which month that you think we should visit? Our vacation choice will be early of July and end of September to early October.

    In addition, is it ok for 2 women travel from Asia in Easter island.

    Can i mix this Easter island with Peru, if i have 2 weeks vacation.

    Look forward for your reply.
    Thanks

    Post a Reply
    • I don’t see any problems with traveling to Easter Island as part of a 2 week trip to Peru. You’ll have to probably make a stop-over in Santiago, but that should be plenty of time. Just be sure to book in advance!

      Post a Reply
  3. I hope to visit Easter Island after a conference in Santiago early January 2017, but am struggling to airfare that is reasonable as most seem to be $1700 plus. Am I too late? Any suggestions?

    Post a Reply
    • Honestly, you’re probably too late. Normally there is only one flight per day and the prices rise rapidly as seats become limited. I’d be very surprised if the price went down much to be an attractive figure. But, stranger things have happened.

      Post a Reply
  4. Hi Jeremy!
    Great information on this article! Love the picture you have with your lady in front of the Moais, would you be so kind to tell me whats the name of that spot? Maybe you can give me a rough idea of key places to visit on our own, by renting a car?

    Post a Reply
  5. Hi, I’m a woman travelling alone to easter island for two days…do you think it’s safe for me to go alone? and rent a car? thanks!

    Post a Reply
  6. great post…I want to spend my birthday, nov 1, in easter island…last year I spent it in draculas castle, year before in Lalibella ethiopia.
    Any comment on the beaches?
    i thought I might combine this with a trip to Antarctic …any tips on that part of chile?
    I likely would be better off going another time…seems the boats don’t run in october/november and also seems it is better to go from Argentina which of course would be another trip.
    any comments welcome…great research and advice….

    Post a Reply
    • Easter Island really only has two beaches, and they are pretty nice but not really the kind of beaches you’ll be hanging out in for the full time you are there. We didn’t even get into the water! But you are also right about Antarctica in that nearly all of the trips go from Argentina, although I believe the fly in / fly out tours go out of Chile (or at least some of them do).

      Post a Reply
  7. Thanks for your article, it was informative and concise. i really liked your car rental tips and thanks for putting it in perspective with the organised tours! I am attempting to organise a surprise trip for my husband after a conference in Santiago in January 2017. I am trying to decide on duration on the island. In your opinion is three full days enough time or should i try to go for four? Thanks again!

    Post a Reply
    • I saw you found our other post about how many days you need on Easter Island (https://www.livingthedreamrtw.com/2015/02/how-many-days-on-easter-island.html) but I want to reply directly to this for others who may have the same question too. I personally think everyone should plan for 5 days on Easter Island; however, 4 would also work if you cannot swing any more. The more time you can give yourself for seeing the sights in a rental car a second (or third time) and to account for possible rain delays is always a good idea!

      Post a Reply
  8. Hello, I happened upon your post from a brief search. Thank you for collating some really useful info.

    I am planning a trip to Chile and Easter Island (from England) in March 2017. Can I just ask how far in advance you made your bookings (especially the hotel)?

    Great to hear it is definitely worth it, as we will have about three weeks and it’s difficult trying to shortlist Chile’s regions when they are all so spectacular!

    Post a Reply
    • We made our bookings about 2 months ahead of time. The cheapest airfare prices are probably 6+ months out as flights always sell out and only get more expensive. It is possible that 9-12 months may be more expensive just because airlines are weird, but if you see a low price you are fine with jump on it. There are a good amount of hotel rooms, so you probably don’t need to book too far out but I still recommend 6 months as a good target.

      Post a Reply
  9. Hi guys, great post! I will get there in a month with my girlfriend and we already booked a stay in the camping! But i have few questions:
    1- you wrote all the prices in US$, can we being local money, and can we even pay the tax (60$) in pesos by cash?
    2- is there any supermarket where to buy food and cook in the camping?
    3- we are not renting a car and we don t think to pay for any guide, is there any other way to admire the “must-see places”?
    Thanks buddy,
    Davide – utravelshare

    Post a Reply
    • Davide- I wrote our post in USD because our audience is primarily from the US. I am not 100% sure about the entrance tax, but I am pretty confident we paid in pesos. I would recommend confirming prior to arrival though with an official source.

      There is a supermarket on Easter Island, but most of the food is very expensive. I recommend bringing food from Santiago as it is much cheaper. We decided to eat at the fast food stalls more frequently purely because what was available at the market was so expensive. (I’m sure we ended up spending more money, but it was good food!).

      As for exploring the island, you will either have to take a tour, hire a taxi, or rent a car. The island, albeit small, is too large to do on foot and everything is so spread out. Trust me, you really need to find a way to rent a car if you can (or worst case, find someone at the campsite who is renting one and has space for friends).

      Post a Reply
  10. Just what i was looking for as I begin the initial stages of planning and budgeting. Great info – thx!

    Post a Reply
  11. Hi there. I been reading your post over and over again since we are going to Easter Island next year in March too and it seems like you did as well! We are deciding whether to spend 200AUD to camp 6 nights or spend 700AUD in a hotel room. We read up about the temperature in Easter Island is incredibly hot in March and people barely get any sleep and it’s quite humid. Is that true when you were there? What was the temperature like? I am tempted to spend extra just to get some sleep since coming from NZ I am scared of heat. Look forward to your reply since I am really having a hard time deciding. Thank you ☺

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Winny- I’m glad to hear you’re going to Easter Island. You’re going to love it!

      I did think it was hot and humid in March, but I live in the midwest in the US and our summers are always hot and humid, so I didn’t think it was awful compared to that. My biggest concern about camping there would be more that it rains quite frequently as well, so its something you’ll have to deal with. We had friends who stayed at the campsite and although the facilities are basic, it was pretty good (and right by the water). You may want to see if they have rooms in the dorm there as well as I recall they were pretty reasonable but sell out very fast.

      As a side note- if you’re torn between say, camping and getting a car for 4 days, I’d spend the 500 AUD on the car over the hotel. Best splurge you can make on the island.

      Post a Reply
  12. That was really interesting! I don’t have any plans to visit Easter Island in the near future but I was curious how much it cost anyway. $3,000 for two people for nearly a week isn’t bad. I’d say that’s the cost of the average “non budget” vacation anyway! Nice that you offered up an even cheaper way as well!

    Post a Reply
  13. Hi there!
    Very helpful your Infos!
    Where did you get a Tour for 80$??

    Sophia

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Sophia, thanks for your question! We actually didn’t do any guided tours and only did self-guided options. From what we saw in our research the guided tours were roughly $80 for a full circuit; however, prices may have changed since our visit.

      Post a Reply
  14. Thanks for sharing!
    Yes, I fully agree, even if you are on a budget, you should really consider visiting Rapa Nui. This place has something magical!
    It seems prices have gone up, as I was there in 2008, and it was much cheaper than that. There, I didn’t rent a car but a quad, and that worked perfectly and was much, much cheaper.
    And if you can be there at the right time (end of January / beginning of February), try to go there during the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival, it is simply UNIQUE!
    Cheers, Gilles

    Post a Reply
  15. What a cool spot. Totally agree on spending a little more and not taking the tour. I would hate to make the effort to get there and only see everything for a brief second before I had to move on to the next spot!

    Post a Reply
  16. Glad you hear you enjoyed Easter Island as much as my husband Bryan and I did! It’s such a special place.

    We also visited the Galapagos in June 2012. Awesome scuba diving with hammerheads, snorkeling with penguins and sea lions. One of the highlights of my life. I just hope they continue to protect this special place.

    Safe, Happy travels! 🙂

    Post a Reply
  17. Excellent write up Jeremy! Now that I’m settled in Ecuador (Cuenca) I might just get there myself. (well o.k., but first those delicious Galapagos Isles! 😉

    Post a Reply
    • Yes to both! We’re coming up to Ecuador in June and hitting the Galapagos for a week while we’re there. Will make plans to come to Cuenca!

      Post a Reply
  18. We are in Northern Chile and seriously contemplating going to Easter Island. As far as a car rental goes, do you need to have the International Driver’s Licence? I have a Canadian licence, but not the International one…

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Emily, that is a great question. I’m glad you mentioned that. You do not need an International Driver’s License on Easter Island, just a regular one as far as we could tell (being from the USA, they may be bias though). The island is very laid back on the car rentals, they don’t even carry insurance, so they seem to rent to anyone as long as you have a license from home.

      On the lack of insurance aspect (and driving in general), I’d recommend checking out our post about driving in Easter Island because it isn’t as bad as you’d think:

      https://www.livingthedreamrtw.com/2014/04/our-best-tips-for-driving-in-easter.html

      If you’re considering going to Easter Island, I’d start looking at plane tickets as soon as possible. There was quite literally a date where everything before that was $1,400 per person, and everything after that was $600-$700 and our dates were just at that cross-over point.

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1.2K Shares
Share228
Tweet71
Pin928
Email