I receive quite a few emails from people who will be visiting Easter Island by cruise ship inquiring about day tours. The sales teams aboard these vessels routinely gouge their passengers for land tours. One reader of this blog recently reported that he was being asked US$219 for the cheapest three-hour island tour during his ship’s one-day stop at Hanga Roa.
Well, it is possible to avoid the inflated prices charged for tours booked aboard ship by contacting local companies such as Easter Island Spirit or Rapa Nui Travel and asking them to organize your sightseeing while in port. Not only will the price by lower but your group will be much smaller. It’s important to arrange this well in advance as every tour bus seat on the island will be occupied while your ship is in port.
If you can’t or don’t wish to make such arrangements, your next best option is taking a taxi from town to the Orongo archaeological site at the summit of Rao Kao. This might cost anywhere from US$10 to US$20 one way for the car, depending on your bargaining ability and knowledge of Spanish. You can easily walk back down to town in under an hour after seeing the sights on the volcano. Better yet, consider hiring a taxi for the day. I think $100 would be fair for five or six hours, and split between three or four people, it will be inexpensive. But you’ll need to do your homework as the driver won’t speak English. Make a point form list of what you want to see and show it to the driver. Make sure everything is clearly understood including the price, time you’ll be with him, etc. Some tips on how what to expect are in my Hiking Guide to Easter Island.
When budgeting keep in mind that a US$60 national park admission fee is collected at Orongo, entry to Rano Raraku included. On cruise ship days taxi drivers also try to cash in on visitors by asking as much as US$50 for the ride to Orongo or US$200 for a one-day island tour. And if you’ll be transiting Santiago International Airport you’ll be taxed US$140 if you’re American, US$132 if you’re Canadian, or US$95 if you’re Australian, in cash (collected only once per passport). Bring money.