Easter Island is one of the most remote islands on Earth and as a result, it’s also one of the most difficult places to get to.
You most likely will have to deal with a number of connecting flights and as of early 2023, potentially a limited number of flights.
But, if you can have some flexibility with your schedule and are okay with enduring lots of hours in the sky then getting to Easter island is actually not that difficult.
In this article, I’ll break down how you can get to Easter Island as of 2023.
How to get to Easter Island by plane
If you want to get to Easter Island by plane, chances are you are going to have to go through Santiago, Chile. If you are headed from the US then that means you likely will be flying on one of the following airlines:
If you’re trying to book a nonstop flight to Santiago, then the following airport hubs may offer that:
- ATL (Atlanta)
- IAH (Houston)
- DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth)
- JFK (NYC)
- LAX (Los Angeles)
There were once flights between Easter Island (IPC) and Papeete (PPT) although it’s not clear when those will return.
We happened to be visiting Mexico City so we booked a nonstop directly from MEX with LATAM, which was about eight hours.
Once you arrive in Chile, there are some specific measures that you need to follow to make sure that you get through the airport successfully en route to Easter Island. Be sure to check out the full guide here.
As for getting between Santiago and Easter Island, as of early 2023, there still are only flights going out about three days a week and it’s strictly with LATAM (unless you’re flying private).
The plan is for LATAM to ramp up flights to the island throughout 2023 so more flights should be heading that way during the fall. The good news is that they fly a widebody Dreamliner to Easter island which is one of the more pleasant aircraft to fly.
If you want to use award miles to get to Easter Island on this segment, it’s going to be very difficult (especially for business class).
Over the years, I’ve looked for award seats for this route and while I have come across them on occasion, it’s usually been very rare. Perhaps whenever the flights ramp back up it will be doable but I would not count on finding award seats for business class for now.
Related: Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park
If you don’t like to deal with connections then I would recommend that you consider staying in Santiago for a few days before heading over to Easter Island. This is because the flight is about five hours between Santiago and Easter Island.
So if you already have had to deal with a couple of long connecting flights, the thought of going through yet another flight may be a complete turn off.
There are a lot of things you can do in Santiago like check out some of the museums or just stroll around the city which is quite nice as it is surrounded by beautiful (and huge) mountains. It’s a great “stop over” city.
Santiago Airport also has a nice airport hotel located right outside the exit (the Holiday Inn). You could simply stay at that hotel for a night and recharge for a flight the next day.
Purchasing your flight
One really interesting thing about purchasing a flight with LATAM while based in the US is that you could be paying a lot more than someone based in Chile!
When I was looking at flights from Santiago to Easter island, I noticed that the prices on the US website were twice as expensive! See the screenshot below.
You could utilize a VPN or just use the Chile LATAM website and go through the booking process in Spanish in order to take advantage of the cheaper rates.
In the past, I always heard about officials at the airport catching people doing this and forcing them to pay the difference. I believe that this enforcement practice was ruled illegal at some point although I’m not completely sure.
But I can tell you from personal experience that as US citizens with US passports we did not have any issues purchasing the cheaper tickets and getting through the airport.
Landing in Easter island
As you would probably expect, the airport on Easter island is very small.
Interestingly, the landing strip is actually longer than usual because it was modified to be able to accommodate emergency space shuttle landings! Pretty cool.
Lots of the hotels provide transportation from the airport to the hotel and will even greet you with a lei! It’s a really cool experience.
How to get to Easter Island by cruise
Another way to get to Easter Island is by cruise ship. I don’t have experience with taking cruises to Easter island so I honestly don’t know much about them.
However, I do know that sometimes Easter island is one stop among many on some very long cruises that go between places like the US and Australia. Some of these cruises can be over 100 nights! However you can find some that are just 2 to 3 weeks.
Coming up on Easter Island via the ocean would be epic because it would take me back in time to when early explorers first came across the island.
But we noticed that some of the sites were substantially busier when the cruise ship was in town so your experience will likely not be as quiet if you go to cruise route. Just something to think about.
Getting to Easter Island is a little bit of a challenge.
You’ll need to be ready to deal with a few connecting flights and try to plan ahead so that you are not stuck with limited flight inventory due to the small amount of flights going to the island each week.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.