Easter Island is back – How to best explore it in 3 days

Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) opened in August 2022, after a long pandemic! Since then, we have received an ever-increasing amount of requests and questions on how to best explore this iconic Chilean destination.

The remoteness of the island itself (3,686 km west of the mainland) makes this an expensive destination to visit. Supplies to the small island are only possible by air or sea and come from mainland Chile.

During the pandemic, the authorities on the island decided to isolate and completely closed off to tourists. This was done as a precaution as the health infrastructure on the island was not designed to handle critical hospitalization cases.

It is also for this reason that the island has its own set of rules and regulations for entry which is different from the current regulations in Chile. An up-to-date version of the current rules and regulations throughout our destinations can be found in our South American Update article.

If you are looking for the best tips and tricks to make the most of your stay on Easter Island we have put together a helpful list below.

How long do you need to visit Easter Island?

Easter Island is a small island that spans a mere 24.6 km (15.3 mi) at its longest side. So luckily you don’t need very long to see all of the incredible things that this destination has to offer.

If you’re looking to experience all of the must-dos then a short three-day break will suffice.

Before planning your visit, be sure to check for a flight ahead of time. LATAM airlines have a monopoly along this flight route. They provide a service to/from the island only a handful of times per week. Availability becomes rather scarce the closer to your proposed departure date that you book.

Day 1 – An overview of the culture, heritage & Orongo

Easter Island is full of moais…everywhere…(in fact, there are around 1000 of them on the island!).

Our tip: get an introduction to the island’s history and culture in the museum where a local will explain the island’s history and background, giving you a better understanding of where you are.

Then, move on to the moais where you will see a restored statue and learn about its main features, lore, and function.

easter island restored moai in tahai


  • General introduction at the local anthropological museum Sebastian Englert.
  • Learn how to recognize the restored moais at Tahai.
  • Amazing view of the Rano Kau crater lake.
  • Orongo, a ceremonial village, Tehos (unique houses) filled with petroglyphs and interesting cave art.
Sebastian Englert Museum

The Sebastian Englert Museum is the only museum on Easter Island. It houses around 15 000 artifacts discovered on the island such as mata (obsidian stone tools), ancient fish hooks, a natural science collection, and the face of a moai with a coral eye. It gives a great introduction to the island, its people and the mystery surrounding the massive moais.

The museum is open from Tuesday – Friday 09:30 – 17:30 and on weekends and holidays 09:30 – 12:30.

maoi statue in easter island museum

After having been in Tahai you’ll notice the difference between the Tahai’s moais and the non-restored moais from Ahu Vinapu. An Ahu is the name given to the platform where the moais were sometimes placed.

Rano Kau crater lake

Rapa Nui, as small as it is, is home to three volcanos, one of which is the now-extinct Rano Kau, a photographer’s paradise. It features a unique crater lake, which is one of the island’s only three natural bodies of fresh water, and endless views over the Pacific Ocean.

easter island ranu kau crater lookout point

Orongo, the largest archaeological site and ceremonial center in all of Easter Island, is considered one of the major ‘highlights’, not only because of the view/location but also for the unique construction of its houses which can’t be seen in any other part of the island.

easter island orongo stone carvings looking over the pacific ocean
travelers sitting on bench overlooking pacific ocean easter island orongo

Accompanying each house you will find cave art along with the site’s petroglyphs and an Ahu that used to have a large moai that protected and accompanied the islanders who lived there.

Yes, this is the same village that features in the film Rapa Nui Legends in Stone (1994) with Kevin Costner.

Orongo is the best place to learn about the ancient birdman competition that took place, a rite that was practiced by the ‘birdman cult’ in the 18th and 19th centuries.

easter island birdman contest

Our tip: If you are traveling from Europe, when visiting Orongo you can see the ‘Ahu platform’ from one of the most prominent moais, Hakananai, one of 10 carved from basalt (1000 -1200) that features petroglyphs related to the birdman religion. The moai itself is on display in the British Museum in London.

When is the best time to visit Orongo?

From our experience, the best time to visit this unique site has to be during sunset. This is when the changing sunlight illuminates the houses and petroglyphs as it slowly creeps down the horizon. It is a stunning opportunity for the perfect Easter Island photo.

Day 2 – Quarry tour, sandy beaches and moais

Today, take advantage of a full-day tour through more of the island’s exciting historical sites listed in the highlights below. Ending your day of exploration off with a dip in the warm Pacific Ocean at a historical white sandy beach!


  • Rano Raraku quarry – the source of the building materials on the island.
  • Ahu Tongariki and its 15 imposing moais.
  • Ahu Te Pito Kura – the largest 82-tones moai, which was moved from the Rano Raraku quarry and successfully erected on an ahu. However, it has since collapsed and now lays facedown.
  • Anakena – the white sandy beach with its 2 restored moais.
white sandy beach with palm trees easter island anakena

Day 3 – The final day of exploration

Currently, all flights leaving the island depart at 14:45. This gives you just enough time to squeeze in a half-day tour before you make your way back to the mainland.

Our tip: do a half-day horseback riding tour that lasts around 3 hours and takes you to Ahu Akivi, with its 7 moais that represent the 7 explorers who were sent to Rapa Nui by king Hotu Matua. These are the only set of moais that have been placed facing the ocean.

7 explorer moais easter island ahu akivi

Along the way, you will get to experience the lesser-known sites of Ana Kakenga and Ana Te Pau.

The cave of Ana Kakenga, also known as the Cave of the Two Windows. After entering through its small entrance, the cave will open up to a spacious hollowing that features two openings on the sea cliff which give a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. A stunning framing opportunity for the perfect photo.

Ana Te Pau, is also called the Cave of Bananas (you’ll soon see why). Here you will be able to see where the ancient Rapa Nui hid during the clashes that arose between the different tribes to hold power and during the series of 19-century raids, complete with stone defense barriers.

You can also visit Akivi along a 3-hour tour by car. This option doesn’t include a visit to Ana Kakenga or Ana Te Pau. Instead, you visit the topknot quarry of Puna Pau where all of the Pukaos (topknot/head coverings) were sourced and made.

Entrance fee

You only need one entrance ticket to access all of the different sites on Easter Island. The ticket is valid for 10 days from the date of entry to your first site.

You can only purchase the tickets online. It costs USD 80 per person or USD 40 for children between 7 and 12. Children younger than 7 do not pay for the entrance.

While you can use your ticket to enter almost all of the sites an unlimited number of times, you can only enter Orongo and Rano Raraku once during your stay.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Easter Island would be either side of the ‘high season’ which is during February. This coincides with the annual Tapati festival which takes place over a 2-week period.

During this time the island is full and rates for both hotels and flights are high. Some flights can cost up to 3 times more than usual. So it is best to steer clear of traveling to the island during February.

December through May are the hottest months, with average temperatures in the mid-20s.

May is historically the month with the most rainfall.

How to get there

Due to its remoteness, the only way to access the island from the mainland is via aircraft. LATAM are the only carrier that flies the route from Santiago to Easter Island. Ticket prices average around USD 300, one way.

The current flight schedule is as follows, leaving Santiago at 09:25 and departing Easter Island at 14:45. Total flight time direct is 5hrs 20min.

October 2022: Mon, Fri, Sun
November & December 2022: Mon, Sun
January 2023: Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
February 2023: Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun
March 2023: Mon, Fri, Sat
April 2023 – August 2023: Thurs, Sat

Dinner show

While tourism on the island is in the early stages of activation after the pandemic, there are currently no Polinesian shows at the moment. As an alternative option, you can visit the Bali Hai in Santiago to get a taste of this Polynesian flair in the flesh.

Where To Stay

Explora Easter Island $$$: This hotel is the best option (and our top choice) on the island, compared to other options that also offer a-la-carte activities. It has one of the most privileged locations and is also one of the few properties on the island that has its own spa.

The all-inclusive is perfect for those looking for an active traveler’s paradise as they provide guests with the choice of included excursions from a menu of over 30 items such as hikes, bike tours, snorkeling, and even boating explorations.

Hanga Roa $$$: This hotel is situated in the main town of Hanga Roa, overlooking the expansive Pacific Ocean. It is the most centrally located luxury hotel on the island with a short three-block stroll to the nearest restaurants, bars, art galleries, and souvenir shops that make up a majority of the town.

Altiplanico $$: This hotel is located 3km outside of the main town of Hanga Roa, overlooking the ocean and is designed in the local Easter Island boathouse style. There are no TVs in either of the 17 individual units/rooms, but wifi is available as well as a stunning garden that provides nature lovers a beautiful view over the Pacific Ocean with and a place for some outdoor relaxation.

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