This post is thanks to a reader request. The blogger who is answering the questions is Keith, the publisher of the Velvet Escape and my partner in the Global Bloggers Network.
1. How long do I need to spend on the island to see the important sites and get the flavor of the place without becoming bored. Would I want to spend time relaxing on a beach, or just get round the essential sights and fly back to the mainland?
Keith: 3 full days is sufficient. You can arrange 2 tours for two days and hire a car for the last day to drive around some of the smaller sites or do 2 half-day tours and one full-day tour. There’s not much of a beach on the island, much of the coast is rocky or there are steep cliffs. The best beach is Anakena beach at a sheltered cove. There’s really not much to do when you’re not touring around – Hanga Roa is pretty much a village.
2. Where should I stay to ensure I’m ‘looked after’ by the hosts or hotel, without feeling adrift. A lot of the accommodation I’ve inspected online looks quite shabby and basic, and even the ‘upscale’ hotels have negative reviews on the consumer sites.
Keith: Most of the accommodations on the island are pretty basic. I stayed at the Otai Hotel which is simple but clean. It also has a pretty central location in Hanga Roa and the owners are very friendly. When I was there, I heard that the ‘upscale’ hotels were also quite ‘basic’ so I would advise just going for a 2-3* hotel instead of being disappointed with an expensive option.
3. Is there any alternative to the LAN Chile flight from Santiago, and I’ve been quoted £390/$550 round trip, is that a fair price ?
Keith: I believe LAN has a monopoly on flights to Easter Island though I have heard that American Airlines flies there too, probably a code share with LAN in the One World alliance. It’s my understanding that it’s cheaper to combine an Easter Island return with an intercontinental flight to Santiago with LAN, than to purchase a separate LAN ticket to Easter Island. Please check with a (online) travel agent to be sure.
4. Where’s the best place to organize a tour to the standing statues – people say that the hotels mark the tours up a great deal – and is there an operator which is a bit more clever with his itineraries than the others, or do the tour buses all follow the same track ?
Keith: My recommendation is to book your tours online in advance. I booked mine with www.visitchile.com (this cost me about $300 per person for a 3 night package including hotel accommodation, airport transfers and 3 tours – 1 full day tour & 2 half-day tours). If you do not plan on hiring a car, 3 tours are sufficient to cover the major sights on the island. I suggest doing a simple Google search for Easter Island Tours and compare the offers.
5. Where’s a good place to eat dinner alone, and what is the food like?
Keith: One place I can absolutely recommend is Taverne du Pescheur (see my review). There’s plenty of beef and chicken but you have to try the fresh tuna.
6. Did you have any ‘spiritual’ or emotional response to the statues, or to the place itself, and how would you handle that?
Keith: The statues are absolutely impressive and the island certainly has something magical about it but I can’t say I felt any ‘spiritual’ response to the statues. What I can recommend is a stop at the ‘Navel of the Earth’, with its 5 orbs. The stones have some sort of magnetic power which is quite extraordinary.