Packing light for a trip to Easter Island is easy; however, there are a few important things that you’ll want to remember to put in your bag so you don’t have to pay island prices for otherwise common and inexpensive items.
First off, I recommend you pack everything you’re gonna take into one carry-on. It’s all you need, and you don’t want to get stuck in Santiago for an extra two days because you checked a behemoth sized bag and miss your connecting flight as a result. Everything you need will fit in either a backpack or a carry-on roller bag.
Here’s a list of what I took for the week:
- 2 quick dry t-shirts
- 2 quick dry polo shirts
- 2 quick dry shorts
- 1 pair of jeans (which I never wore. Should have left them at home)
- Chacos sandals
- Montrail trail running shoes
- 2 pair quick dry socks
- 4 quick dry boxers
- A light windbreaker (rarely used)
- Two 2-ounce containers of Woolite
- 2 digital cameras (Sony RX1 and Ricoh GR with 21mm adapter), spare batteries, & chargers
- Holga film camera and 3 rolls of medium format film
- Small 6 inch tripod
- iPhone and charger
- Several Ziploc and grocery bags (helpful to keep electronics dry if it rains)
- Small bag of toiletries and a fully charged electric razor
- A handkerchief
- 3 oz bottle of sunscreen
- Several hundred dollars in US cash
- 2 credit card and 2 debit cards
- Can opener
A few comments about the last few items listed.
Definitely bring some sunscreen. Though it never gets really hot, there’s not much shade on Easter Island; so if the sun’s out, you don’t have sunscreen on, and your skin is low in melanin like mine, you’re going to get burned. As you can guess, sunscreen is very expensive if you buy it on the island.
I normally don’t travel with too much cash, but on this trip it was needed for the national park ticket and to pay for our lodging. It’s also good to have more than one credit card and debit card in the event you get locked out of one account. It has happened to me before, and I was really happy I had a backup. If you don’t yet have a good no-fee travel credit card, here’s my personal favorite.
So why the can opener?
Well, while we were planning our trip, we decided that on at least a few of our days, it would be convenient to pack a picnic lunch to eat while we were out sightseeing so we wouldn’t have to drive all the way back to Hanga Roa for our mid-day meal. Just about all the food is flown in from mainland Chile, so the selection of fresh vegetables is limited. But there’s a solid variety of canned goods at the local grocery stores. Both Mrs. Lite Adventurer and I love our vegetables, so we brought along the can opener to use on the various canned veggies we ate throughout our stay. It was a great decision.
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to take along a guide book, there’s only one you need: A Companion to Easter Island by James Peterkin.
You can find this book on Amazon. When I say this is the only book you need, I mean it. It’s got all the information you require, including some very helpful maps. I bought and read a few other guidebooks (there aren’t that many), and none of the others came close to the quality of the Peterkin book.
So that was everything in my bag. Not too bad right? To be quite honest, 3 sets of shirts and boxers instead of 4 would be fine as long as you’re diligent about keeping your clothes clean. The island is a casual, relaxed locale, so my daily outfit of shorts, sandals, and a short-sleeve shirt never looked out of place anywhere we went. Don’t bother packing fancy clothes. Or even long pants if you can tolerate mildly chilly night weather; you won’t need them.
As you can see, all the above will easily fit into a single backpack. If you’re a normal person who doesn’t travel with 3 dedicated cameras like I do, your bag will be even lighter.
Things you don’t need
- Bug spray
- Rain jacket
- Fancy clothes
- Dress shoes
- Food from the outside – the grocery stores are pretty good
What’s the weather like?
Temperatures on Easter Island are mild throughout the entire year ranging from a high of mid-60s to upper 70s fahrenheit to a low of upper 50s to upper 60s.
Here’s a helpful weather guide that breaks down average temperatures by month: http://www.holiday-weather.com/easter_island/averages/
Most of the rain comes between April and August. High tourist season is during their summer, which is December through February, so if you prefer to avoid large crowds like I do, consider going in the shoulder seasons, which would be either October/November or March/April.
Our visit was in mid-October, and the weather was mild. I’m a guy who prefers it on the slightly cooler side, so I was very comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, morning and night. Wet clothes dried quickly. Using the towel drying trick, everything washed at night was completely bone dry by the time we woke up. If you’re traveling during the colder season, you may want to pack a pair of long pants and a light jacket for the evenings, but even during their winter, it never gets super cold. Regardless of when you go, you won’t need much luggage.
One last recommendation: purchase some travel insurance before you go. As you can imagine, medical care on the island is limited, and should you have a serious medical issue come up during your vacation, you may need to be airlifted to mainland Chile to get proper medical care. A medical evacuation flight is not cheap; we’re talking several tens of thousands of dollars.
Mrs. Lite Adventurer and I got our travel insurance through Travelex. It’s called the Travel Basic Policy. My policy was $27 and hers was $21 (Mrs. Lite Adventurer is a few years my junior). This cost covered $15,000 of medical expenses and $100,000 of emergency evacuation costs for each of us. The most financially devastating part of a foreign medical emergency is typically the evacuation flight, so make sure you buy plenty of coverage specifically for that.
One way to save quite a bit of money on travel insurance is to forego trip cancellation insurance. This makes a huge, huge difference in the price you pay for your insurance package. To do this, when you’re on the website filling out your trip information, put $0 where it asks you for total cost of your trip, or if there’s a direct option to decline trip cancellation insurance, then that’s even easier.
There are several reputable travel insurance companies, so search around for the best deal. Stick with the companies with high ratings and good reviews. You don’t want to get stuck with a huge medical bill because you saved 2 bucks going with a po-dunk scam company instead of an established big name organization.
In summary: not too much stuff, one carry on bag, mild weather clothes, & travel insurance. Pretty light and easy right? In part 4, I’ll go over sightseeing recommendations and tips related to photography on the island. Cheers!