Easter Island had always been at the top of my husbands must visit destination list and the more he spoke about it the more intrigued I was. Vegan guides on Easter Island are fairly few and far between and when you do find them they are so old, they are a bit irrelevant. So heading off to Easter Island, or Rapa Nui to give it the local name, we literally had no idea what to expect. We had read a few things saying it would be super expensive and a few saying eating vegan would be quite difficult. So basically we went with high expectations on the things to see but pretty low on the eating level. However, we were actually presently surprised on the food front and blown away by the Moai.
Easter Island is such a small place it is not a hard to decide where to stay, just go with where you can afford. We stayed right in the centre of the main (and only) town Hanga Roa. For us this was the perfect base as it meant we could nip out for a drink, dinner, wander, but still be close enough to the hotel to duck back when it got too hot for us. Really that was a godsend. It would have been a lot harder to do this were the hotel further away.
We stayed at the O’Tai Hotel. Honestly the interior was quite tired and so it made the bathrooms look a bit dirty, but it was fine. I suspect a lot of the hotels would be this way as they are an island in the middle of nowhere and probably have no motivation to revamp the bathrooms every other year! The garden however, was beautiful. Waking up to the lush garden and view of the pool each morning was gorgeous. It was also great to have a pool as it meant we could take a dip without worrying about sun tan lotion coming off and to read a book out in nature without having to worry about paying for something to sit in a pub!
Nothing on Easter Island is vegan. I did not see anything marked vegan anywhere, whether it was a shop or restaurant. Having said that, with a little explanation, everywhere we went I managed a fantastic meal. However, no one really speaks English. We had to use Google Translate a lot. In the end we always got there, but be sure if you don’t speak Spanish you have some other means of communication. It was just lucky my husband gets cheap internet, but if you don’t, a phrase book really won’t go amiss. Neither would learning the Spanish for “I am vegan, I do not eat any meat, fish, chicken, eggs or dairy”. They really needed this spelled out as it was a very strange concept to them. Which I understand as their main food is fish. I really wish I had learned some phrases in Spanish before going, but as I am trying to learn Italian my brain just couldn’t cope with the two languages!
Easter Island is not as expensive as you would expect. A lot of online reading before I went suggested it was about 3 x times the price of the mainland but we found it to just be the same. Each meal was like eating in a slightly more expensive British restaurant, around £15 for a veggie main meal. The supermarkets were also very reasonable, really just prices similar to home. The only difference being they don’t stock much. Tofu for example is very much not a thing on Easter Island! The staples are very much fish and some veggies.
Another strange thing on Easter Island is because people are all doing their own thing and locals don’t really go out for food, it meant that the restaurants were dead all the time. Back home this would make you think they were not good, but actually it is just they have a couple of people in at all times of the day. There is no rush hour or general dinner time, so do not be put off if there is no one else in the restaurant, it does not mean the food is bad. We even asked the hotel for recommendations and they just told us to go anywhere…..
Au Bout Du Monde
Hands down the best food we ate on the island was at Au Bout Du Monde. I had the veggie curry, which is not on the menu, but ask for it! They overheard us on the street outside mention veggie food and told us they would make something amazing and they delivered. The curry was one of the best I have ever eaten, and was packed full of veggies. They also served the local beer which we got to try. The cocktails were pretty good too. This is a must visit in my opinion.
I got a really good, totally full on toppings pizza for lunch here one day. They had to double check quite a few times that I didn’t want cheese, even the chef came out to check, it was clearly a strange concept to them. This made me worry a bit about what I may be served but my pizza was really good. This is slightly further than most of the restaurants but is on the way to Ahu Tahai where you can head to either before after to watch the sunset.
Haitonga Rapa Nui
We had our fair share of cocktails here during our stay, they make a good mojito! As it was right beside our hotel, we also had some dinner here. I went for a veggie burger which the waitress confirmed had no egg or milk in it. It was actually pretty tasty and had loads of peppers and green beans on the bun which was something I have never thought of doing before. Very tasty!
Annoyingly we also found somewhere serving a yummy acai bowl and a great matcha tea. I am pretty certain I have never felt like more of a vegan cliché than when I sat eating and drinking this looking out on a tropical island haha! However I cant for the life of me remember the name! It was on Atamu Tekena. Have a wander up it and see what you find if you go!!!
Top Places to Visit
There are so many things to do on the Island! We went on a few day trips with our travel company, Manuwana. There was often a big group and the language was Spanish & English. While this did work for us, it did mean lots of people travelling with you and often long periods of time with no information as it was being given in Spanish. If I had known this, I would definitely have chosen a group with only one language. Naively I had assumed there would just be two guides!
Everyone does the three main tours which are to the main Moai, to see what the Bird Man cult was all about, Anakena beach and the hill from which all the Moai were carved. They are all amazing, there is so much to see and learn. I enjoyed every tour! For free, there are Moai a short distance from the town centre where you can visit during the day or go watch the sunset. It is a beautiful thing to go see, I highly recommend it. There is something quite magical about the sunsetting over these huge sculptures. Whatever you do on Easter Island though I can gurantee you will love it!