OK, so Easter Island—or Rapa Nui as the locals call it—is not off the Beaten Path. Everyone knows about it. Tourists have been coming to Easter Island since the beginning of the 20th century. Although they didn’t make a real impact up until the ’60s when Chile opened the island to the outside world and tourists began arriving in hordes.
But it is so far, far away!
Modern wonders of air travel make us sometimes forget how damn far some places on this planet are. Easter Island is 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, 2,600 miles from Tahiti, over 4,000 from New Zealand; my goodness, we didn’t realize how freaking far it was until we saw Australia in the corner of the plane monitor. The closest populated island Pitcaim (populated by a whopping 67 people, no less) lies 1,200 miles away. Yeah, that far. Any which way you look at it, it’s far.
There are only two ways in: from Lima and from Santiago, Chile. Well, there is the third way—from Papeete, French Polynesia, if you find your way there first. All three routes are served by a single airline: LAN. You could also arrive on the island on a cruise ship, but that would only give you one day of sightseeing, and even though the island is small—63 square miles total—one day is not nearly enough to see everything. Plan for three to five, especially in the rainy season.
Unfortunately, LAN has officially announced they will cancel all flights from Lima between April and October this year. They had done that before but for this year they promised a full year of uninterrupted service. Well, no such luck. So plan accordingly if you want to enjoy a direct flight from Lima (and you should since it’s not only convenient, but it’ll also save you the cost of a Chilean visa).
We arrived on the island by a direct flight from Lima around 7a.m., and it was perfect (well would’ve been if it weren’t for a long immigration line, but hey, our 767 was completely full!). Matavery International Airport—the most remote international airport in the world—consists of only one runway and there is no fancy-shmancy stuff like jetways or something. You go down the wheeled staircase and walk to the terminal. Don’t worry it isn’t a long walk. Our innkeepers met us there and drove us to what will become our humble abode for the next four days.
Well, about that…
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that nowhere on the island will you find international hotel chains that we all cherish. But even regular lodging options are limited. Not because there aren’t any hotels or inns—there are quite a few actually—but you must expect to pay 4-star prices for 2-star accommodations. Or pay $1,000 a day (although all inclusive) for the only true 4-star hotel on the island: Posada de Mike Rapu.
Yeah, I know…
Our accommodations turned out to be quite decent, and it also turned out to be a great choice, but it all began with a bit of suspense. I contacted a private tour guide that everyone was raving about on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, he was unavailable at the time, but he highly recommended booking his friends’ place called Pacific Cabins. Since they did not require prepayment or anything, I took a leap of faith and booked it. The place is called Pacific Cabins, but in reality, it’s just two apartments located in a guest house on their property. The hostess, Mitty, is a multilingual and very hospitable person. The room was small and basic, but we also got a personal, fully equipped kitchen and a huge veranda—all for $50 a day.
To Be Continued…