Ever since the arrival of the first Europeans to Easter Island in 1722, there has been an ever-growing fascination with the people and culture of Rapa Nui. Steeped in history and intrigue, Easter Island (known locally as Rapa Nui, or Isla de Pascua in Spanish) draws more than 80,000 curious tourists each year, eager to learn more about the nearly 900 mysterious moai statues that encompass the island’s rather modest area. With the amount of travelers that make their way to Easter Island each year, it’s little wonder why so many are drawn to one of the world’s most isolated places.
5 things to avoid:
- It’s illegal to take rocks, seashells, plants, animals and the like from the island.
- Though there are some inexpensive restaurants on the island, you can avoid the inflated price of food by bringing a cooler (or two) of your own including water, wine, pastas, meat, snacks, etc. (Everyone on your flight will be doing the same).
- Do not touch or climb on moai
- Do not litter. It is an island, after all, so be considerate of your ecological impact.
- Always throw toilet paper in the bin and never in the toilet.
- Jan-Mar: Rainfall: 3-3.5 in. Weather: 70-80°F. Peak season means higher prices and fewer available hotels.
- Apr-Jun, Oct-Dec: Rainfall: 2.5-4.5 in. Weather: 60-75°F. Cooler weather makes it an ideal time for trekking and horseback riding, though not so much for the beach.
- Jul-Aug: Rainfall: 3-4 in. Weather: 60-70°F. A great time to visit due to temperate weather, cheaper prices and greater selection of hotels and hostels available.
Local time is GMT minus five hours.
The same visa requirements that apply to Chile will also apply to Easter Island. Therefore, citizens of the US, Canada and Australia can enter Chile without a visa for 30-90 days (depending on your country). Chile no longer requires US citizens to pay a reciprocity fee. Canadian and Australian nationals should check with their local embassy for the most up to date visa requirements. Any visa fees are one-time only and remain valid for the duration of the passport. Depending on your nationality, you will most likely receive a 90-day tourist card (do not lose it!), which you will need to show upon entry and exit of country. Keep in mind that you may also be asked to show proof of ‘sufficient funds’ prior to entry, in which case, showing a couple of credit cards will suffice. For a complete list of countries that require a visa check here, and for a list of countries that do not require a visa check here.
Official languages of Easter Island are Spanish and Rapa Nui:
- Hello = Hola
- Goodbye = Adiós
- How are you? = ¿Cómo estás?
- Fine, thank you? = Bien, gracias
- Excuse me = Perdón
- Sorry = Lo Siento
- Please = Por favor
- Thank You = Gracias
- You’re Welcome = De nada
- Yes/No = Si/No
- What’s your name? = ¿Cómo se llama usted? (formal), ¿Cómo te llamas? (Informal)
- My name is… = Me llamo_____
- Do you Speak English? = ¿Hablas inglés?
- I don’t understand = No entendo
- Hello = Pe hē ‘Iorana (formal), ‘lorana (informal)
- Goodbye = ‘Iorana. Ka oho riva-riva (formal), ‘lorana (informal)
- How are you? = Pe hē koe?
- Fine, thank you? = Riva-riva a au. Māuru-uru.
- Excuse me = Ko hape ‘ā a au
- Thank You = Māuru-uru
- You’re Welcome = ‘O te aha no
- Yes = ‘Ē-ē
- No = ‘Ina
- What’s your name? = Ko ai to’u ‘injoa?
- My name is… = To’oku ‘injoa ko ______
- I don’t understand = Kai aŋi-aŋi ‘ana au
Easter Islanders are very friendly and amicable. Shaking hands and a kiss on the cheek is common when greeting, especially amongst friends. Never step on or touch moai statues or any other protected landmark.
There isn’t much to fear at Easter Island in terms of robberies, theft or violence. The biggest problems you will face will be from unwanted bugs entering your hotel room, more like annoying bugs than anything that can be considered life threatening. A good insect repellant would help but not really necessary (I never wore repellant when I was there, whether trekking or walking around town).
It’s recommended to have travel insurance that covers Easter Island. In case of emergency, you will need to be flown to the mainland and that will be expensive. There is a 24-hour hospital at Hanga Roa. No vaccines are required for entry into Easter Island.
Easter Island uses the Chilean peso (CLP), though US dollars can also be accepted. It’s highly recommended to bring cash with you, in case there are any problems with the ATMs (though I personally never had a problem with any of the ATMs). Also, credit cards are becoming more widely accepted but they can incur a hefty service charge (around 10%), so cash is king.
There are a few casas de cambio (exchange offices), but it’s best to change money on the mainland.
ATMs are everywhere and found in most cities and small towns.
Credit cards are not widely accepted, so be sure to carry some cash on you. Some store merchants may charge between 4% and 10% to the final amount if paying by credit card. The most widely accepted card is Visa and MasterCard.
Skype, Google+ Hangouts and FaceTime are still the best options when calling international, though there are call centers (centro de llamadas) if you happen not to have a mobile phone. The country code for Easter Island is the same for Chile: 56.
If you plan to bring your own phone, Entel provides GSM cell service.
Look for Entel SIM cards, which are available at any newsstand or store.
Wi-Fi and Internet access is available, though not necessarily the fastest. If you’re looking to upload photos from your trip, wait until after you reach the mainland.
Easter Island uses both two or three prong outlets, which are the same ones used in Chile (220V at 60 Hz).
Always drink from bottled water, as tap water is not considered safe to drink.
Similar to the mainland, tipping is not expected for taxi rides and for restaurants and bars a 10% service charge is typically added to the bill.
Taxis aren’t too expensive if you want to be picked up and dropped off in town (around CLP2000 or USD$4 a ride). They are expensive if you want to go to populuar moai sites such as for the sunrise or Ahu Akivi, to trek up Ma’unga Terevaka for instance (around CLP$14,000 or USD$20).
For a terrific tour of Easter Island with professional guides, check our Kia Koe Tour. The tour will take you to Rapa Nui National Park to see firsthand the moai statues and learn how and why they were constructed, a stop by the famous Ahu Tongariki and Anakena beach and much more.