Located in the South Pacific Ocean on the eastern edge of the Polynesian Triangle, Easter Island is the largest open-air museum on earth. Because of this, an Easter Island cruise should be at the top of any cruise lover's bucket list!
Discovered by Dutch navigator, Jakob Roggenveen, on Easter Day 1722, the name Easter Island has stuck. Of course, native people had lived on the island for hundreds of years previous to this and called it many different things such as Rapa Nui and Te Pito O Te Henua.
Nowadays, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum. It's also one of the most remote places on earth, with the nearest continental port being 3,526 Km away in Chile. The major highlight of the island is without doubt the Moai or Easter Island heads. These large statues are dotted throughout the island and researchers are still unsure as to how they were transported. The largest of the 600 statues is 10 metres high and weighs in excess of 80 tons!
Although there are no cruises specifically oriented around Easter Island, plenty of longer South Pacific and world itineraries stop here. Passengers have the opportunity to go ashore and explore the island for themselves, visiting the town, admiring the statues and taking part in the activities on offer.
To help you choose the right cruise, we have written a detailed guide on what to expect during your Easter Island cruise. Please use our quicklinks if you know what section you wish to read.
Easter Island is blessed with year-round good weather. The temperature does not vary too much from Winter to Summer and travellers can visit at any time of year.
If visiting by cruise, most expedition cruises tend to sail in the shoulder months, around March, April, May, and August, September, October. Temperatures during the months generally stay between 65°F - 75°F, however, the earlier shoulder months get a lot more rainfall.
Rainfall is actually quite common throughout the year, even in Summer. Because the island is quite exposed, the trade winds off the Pacific Ocean are a trademark of the island's weather.
Although expedition ships tend to visit in the shoulder months, plenty of the large cruise lines (such as Holland America and Oceania Cruise) visit in the high Summer season around January, February and March. This means more tourists on the island a much more busy feel.
Because of its remote location amidst the open ocean, only ships of a certain size cruise to Easter Island. Specifically designed expedition ships and large cruise liners are the two most popular options. Below is a little more information on both.
Expedition ships are specifically designed to take passengers to the furtherest corners of the earth. Facilities onboard are designed for viewing, learning and activities.
Carrying between 100-300 passengers, expedition ships offer lecture rooms, libraries and glass-fronted lounges. You'll also get plenty of guide zodiac trips to explore the landscape and search for wildlife. You'll also get plenty of time ashore thanks to the ships small size.
The negative side of expedition ships is facilities, size and motion. Because their smaller, you'll feel the motion of the ocean more which is not ideal for seasickness sufferers. There also is not the same amount if facilities on board such as pools, casinos, cinemas etc.
Expedition ships tend to offer South Pacific itineraries only. The most popular is Tahiti to Easter Island.
Cruise liners are hugely popular thanks to their onboard facilities. Whilst you won't get zodiac trips or lectures from naturalists and expedition leaders, you'll get cinemas, pools, restaurant options, casinos and much mire onboard!
Because of their size, you also won't feel the motion of the ship as much. Most cruise ships that visit Easter Island carry between 1,000 and 3,000 passengers and offer Easter Island as part of a 'World' itinerary. Some of these exceed 100 days in length.
There is also the option during the high Summer period to take a shorter cruise from Santiago in Chile.The downside of these big cruise ships is that you won't get as much time ashore as you would on a expedition ships, you also won't have dedicated experts on board.
Easter Island is a beautiful island with a wealth of activities to do. During your stop over it is highly recommended to book several activities at least to make the most of your time on the island.
Below are some of the most popular things to do during your Easter Island stop-over.
Kayaking is top of our list as it provides you a way to explore the coastline in incredible detail. Many of the expedition cruises will offer this as standard. If you are sailing aboard a liner, then you can book a kayak trip once ashore. This will cost a little, but it's definitely worth it! Rapa Nui Kayak are the best option and there excursions depart from Anakena Beach.
Surfing conditions on Easter Island are actually very good and keen surfers and beginners will get plenty of opportunities should they wish it. Papa beach is ideal for beginners as the waves are long and slow. You can even learn to surf here with several companies. For more experienced surfers you may want to try Hava beach which is very close by.
The waters around Easter Island are incredibly clear, making them ideal for diving and snorkelling. Some expedition cruise include diving trips, but you will need to be certified and have at least 25 registered dives under your belt to take part. Diving and snorkelling tours are also by island companies during day trips.
Why rent a car when you can rent a mountain bike? Mountain biking is ideal for active people who want to explore the island in style. There are some great mountains biking trails that will also make the exploring a bit more fun! Bikes can be rented from the main street and generally cost between $15-20 per day, per person.
Horse riding trips are one of them most unique ways of exploring Easter Island. Trips can range from several hours to several days and prices start around$50. Guided treks often climb to the top of Terevaka (highest peak on the island) and your guides will point out the unmarked archaeological sites.
No matter how long your cruise stop is, there is always enough time for a good hike. Easter Island is riddled with hiking trails and walking allows you to experience how isolated the island really is. Although most trails are easy, some of the more remote paths should be trekked with a guide.
Choosing the right itinerary can sometimes be a stressful time. Luckily, there are not too many cruise itineraries that actually stop at Easter Island. Therefore, the options are slightly limited to either expedition cruises from Tahiti or mainland Chile. Below we have given more detail on each itinerary option.
Please note, there is also the option to visit Easter Island on what is known as 'world' itineraries. These do as they say, visiting much of the world including a day on Easter Island. Most of these cruises are in excess of 100 nights and generally arrive in Easter Island near September.
Tahiti to Easter Island is one of the most popular routes offered by expedition ships in the South Pacific.
You begin in the capital of Tahiti, Papeete, before sailing into the Austral Islands of French Polynesia. Most itineraries then visit the Pitcairn Islands and several others such as Henderson Island before arriving in Easter Island.
Prices start around $7,500 and can up to $20,000 depending on which cabin and ship you sail. Expedition ships to offer this itinerary include the Silver Explorer, L'Austral and the National Geographic Orion.
The other major itinerary option for Easter Island is to take a cruise from either Santiago or Rio De Janeiro.
The later is longer taking 38 nights, whilst the Santiago option takes around 18 nights and makes a direct route for Easer Island.
It's worth noting here that these itineraries are not round-trips and generally finish in Papeete, Tahiti. This means flight options can be slightly more costly. Prices for the Santiago cruises start around $7,000, whilst the Brazil option starts at $14,000.
Although you may be sailing in the shoulder months of Summer and Winter, the weather is still going to be quite warm. You'll also probably take part in swimming and hiking activities. Because of this, you'll want some breathable clothes that won't get you all sweaty.
To help you pack the right things for your Easter Island cruise, we have written a detailed cruise packing list. We suggest following the warm weather section.
Having the proper cruise insurance is seriously important, especially for Easter Island cruises. Because of the island's remoteness, rescue costs are very high. For a detailed page on cruise insurance, click here.
Below is a short video by Planet Cruise demonstrating the delights of Easter Island!