August 2008 Easter Island Vacation
Travelog / Travelogue / Travellog /
Travellogue, or however you spell it!
In August, 2008, I flew on LAN airline from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island in
the south Pacific Ocean for a 3-night solo vacation. Here are my notes on Easter
- Easter Island is the English translation of the Spanish
name, Isla de Pascua. Rapa Nui is the name preferred by many locals. The only
town is named Hanga Roa.
- Easter Island legally belongs to Chile, but there is an
independence movement on the island. There is a $131 USD "reciprocal fee" for
Americans entering Chile, payable by credit card in the immigration area of
the Santiago airport.
- The flight from Santiago to Hanga Roa takes almost 6
hours. Due to prevailing winds, the flight back takes only a little over 4
Easter Island is a great place to see the Southern Cross, because there is so
little air and light pollution. In fact, the air is probably cleaner than any
other inhabited spot on Earth. Be sure and research what it looks like, and
where in the sky to look, before you arrive.
There are no franchise stores on the island, with possible exception of the
bank. No McDonald's, no Subway, no Starbucks.
Unlike in Argentina, on Easter Island (and in Santiago) the stop signs are
obeyed. There are no traffic lights on the island. None of the streets have
signs telling their names. You can walk all over the downtown.
I saw one man in a wheelchair. It was electric, and looked home-made, but it
got him around quickly on the rough streets and sidewalks.
Stores are open from about 8:30 to 1:30 and 5:30 to 8. The bank is open 9 to
The ATM at the bank (one of two ATMs on the island) only accepts MasterCard
and Cirrus-branded cards. No Visa, no Pulse network. Some stores and
restaurants accept Amex/MC/Visa credit cards.
- Based upon the foliage observed, it evidently never
freezes. The temperatures ranged from 40 to 85F while I was there, with winds
from about 5 to 20 mph.
You always have to watch your step downtown. There are holes, some deep, at
unexpected places in the sidewalks.
Tourist season is October to March. During that time most visitors are
Japanese, US and EU. In the off-season with its discounted rates, most
visitors are from Chile.
According to a local there are large storms, especially in
winter. The weather was calm while I was there, with beautiful large Pacific
waves hitting the shores. A few people were surfing.
According to a young woman who lives on the island: "Everybody is sick all the
time because of the humidity."
Groceries arrive by ship every Saturday. Shop soon after that if you want to
get the best selection. "Supermarket" shelves get pretty empty by Wednesday.
One internet cafe charges 1500 pesos (about USD $3) per hour. Internet is
Upon arrival at the airport, you will enter a room with booths manned by
representatives of various lodgings. That is how I found a hotel, the Anu Kapu. My hotel
(a group of bungalows) was
very inexpensive, and located across a deeply-rutted dirt street from the expensive Hangaroa Hotel. Private bungalows were $30/night (15,000 pesos),
dorm-style accommodations $15. My bungalow had no screens on the windows, no
heat, no A/C, no phone, no TV, essentially no window covers, no bar of soap, no
mirror on the wall. It did have adequate hot water. The hotel had an
internet-connected computer in the assembly / dining room, but the computer was only usable by certain guests.
- I rented a 4wd vehicle for $50 USD for 24 hours at one
of the many places that have a couple of vehicles to rent. In those 24 hours I
was able to reach all parts of the island served by roads and see just about
everything (moai, volcanoes, quarry). Driving in the evening or night would
have been risky, due to animals, people and unlit vehicles in the roads.
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