How to Visit Easter Island

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How to Visit Easter Island

Easter Island is an incredibly unique place.  Located out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this island was once the home of a powerful culture, whose famous stone heads still stand as guard over the land.  Called Rapa Nui in the native language, it is literally the most isolated, permanently inhabited place on earth.  While part of Chile, Easter Island’s closest neighbor is actually Pitcairn, a British territory, which sits over 1,250 miles to the west.  South America is closer to 2,200 miles to the east.

In an ironic twist of fate, this incredibly remote place is now one of the world’s most sought out travel destinations.  It seems to be on everyone’s bucket list and thousands of visitors come each year to marvel at the island’s iconic stone heads.  It is far from the world’s most popular travel spots but that is more out of the difficulty in reaching it rather than demand.  If you want to be one of the lucky few to see this island in person, you’ll first have to navigate getting there.  Thankfully, we have broken down the best options below.

From South America

Once cut off from the world and only accessible by long journeys by ship, Easter Island is now mostly visited via plane.  The small island has one airport, Mataveri International, which is served by the only airline flying to and from the island – LAN.  Without competition and due to the long distance, flights to Easter Island are also quite expensive, usually at least a couple hundred dollars round trip.  A good way to score a discount if you are coming from the US or Europe is to combine your international flight to South America with the domestic flight to Easter Island.  This usually lowers the mainland to Easter Island price by a good hundred dollars or more.

From LAN’s main hub in Santiago, Chile, the journey to Easter Island is approximately a five and a half hour flight.  While LAN has a number of flights per week, they do not fly to and from the island everyday.  Also, just in the last few years LAN has started a second non-stop route to Easter Island from Lima, Peru, another of their hubs.  The Lima option is great for people coming from North America as it cuts off a few extra hours of flight time and since it is a less well known flight option, it is also a better if you are hoping to find last minute seats.

From Tahiti

Easter Island is technically part of South America and LAN, the only major airline that serves the island, is a major South American company.  Despite that, Easter Island actually lies closer to French Polynesia and what few people realize is that you can fly to the island via Tahiti.  The flights are run around once or twice a week and take about a half hour or so less than the Santiago to Easter Island option.  The route is still covered by the only airline option LAN which uses Easter Island as a stopover point on the long haul Pacific journey.

For a truly unique Polynesian vacation, why not add a side trip to Easter Island from Tahiti?  The price can make the journey a bit hard to swallow but considering the flight costs to reach Tahiti, adding on the Easter Island segment is not that much more.  Another great option, discovered by the travel hackers and elite flyers of the world, is to add Easter Island to an Round-the-World ticket.  LAN is part of the OneWorld alliance and if you plan out your route right, you can use a OneWorld RTW ticket to visit Easter Island as part of your journey from Oceania/Australia to South America, or vice versa.

Photo Credit: iko via photopin cc

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