Easter Island! All this and scuba diving, too. And how is the scuba diving in Easter Island? Amazing!

Easter Island, wow, what a place!  Stark, beautiful, slow-paced, not a single traffic light. Moai to admire every where you turn (even under water).  Just lovely, and simple, no bells and whistles needed. Probably because it’s so remote. How remote is Easter Island? 2300 miles or a five and a half hour flight from the nearest land mass. It’s Polynesia that speaks Spanish and English, and can dance South Pacific.  Not that many tourists around, all things considered. No high rises. Let’s keep it that way.  So far local inhabitants have been successful at staving off over-development by rich investors, but how long will that last? Therefore, its best to go to Easter Island ASAP, while it is still pristine and authentic.

And then there’s the scuba diving. What a NICE surprise. No, there is not a super wide variety of marine life, BUT, there is certainly more than enough to please the eye and the spirit-  moray eels of all sizes and colors, pretty (smaller) tropical fish, and huge, old turtles that are not afraid of swimming near or next to the humans they happen upon.  If you like to see big turtles on almost every single dive, its practically guaranteed. Easter Island is the place to see turtles! And then there’s the coral, ah, oh, the coral.  A kingdom’s worth, all over the place, and most sites accessible by a simple launch and a five or ten minute ride. What a treasure, and in terrific condition, too.  And the visibility while scuba diving Easter Island is incredible!

Loved the dive shop, too, and let me tell you, it’s been quite a while since I could say that…Too many dive outfits this past decade or two, do an inferior job, by both experienced and new divers, but Orca Diving Center is superb- from start to finish, for all.  Kudos to their staff, outlook, and equipment.

zas cat and moai
Admiring an underwater Moai during a dive in Easter island

How do you get to Easter Island? Well, it’s not the easiest place to reach, which is probably what preserves its special and unique qualities. You can fly direct non-stop to IPC (Isla de Pascua)(Easter Island in Spanish, it’s part of Chile) either from Santiago, Chile, or Papeete, Tahiti. LATAM is the only airline that offers these flights.

LATAM sold off their frequent flyer program to Multiplus.  What a ripoff! Completely ruthless devaluation of points that US Bank made almost impossible to get with their credit card anyway. Despite complying with all the requirements of their Visa card, I got no points, but, nine months worth of phone calls later and a lot of new gray hairs, success! I must say: I hate US Bank, its treatment of its credit card users, and its customer service. I have been doing the bonus, promotion, miles and points thing for many years now, and I can tell you, I HATE dealing with US Bank.  Their Flexperks program is truly awful, a real nuisance, totally user-unfriendly, and now I can say the same for their co-branded LATAM Visa credit card, too. Oh well. Plenty of other fish in the sea of this sort to choose from, and then the difficulty (impossibility) in actually booking anything with LATAM points? Forget about it.

Nonetheless we managed to travel to Easter Island for cheap, very economically, almost free, and you can get to Easter Island on a budget, too. How, do you ask? Well, we booked the LATAM flights using our Citi ThankYou Premier points. Easy as pie. A great credit card, a user-friendly site, easy to book, and fair prices, too.

The first time, we went just before New Years, booked the tickets during the late summer/early fall before. LATAM offers three flights per day during this, the high season: Santiago to IPC direct, non-stop. The fares ranged from around $800 to $1,150 round-trip.

For our dates and times, we “paid”  $847, but, Zaheer had around $767 worth of points on his Citi ThankYou Premier card, so he only paid around $80 for his ticket.  I paid a little more ($120) because I had closer to $720 worth of points.

We each got the card’s 50,000 point bonus (worth $625) and with a little more spend before it was time to book the tickets, we received an even bigger credit towards the cost of our flights.

For the second trip, which is coming up soon, because I mean it when I say we have to go to Eastr Island as soon as possible before it changes, I noticed that every month LATAM was having a sale on tickets to a different country’s destinations. I believe it was in early March when we managed to snag tickets for Santiago to Easter Island for only $410 round-trip for travel in December.

More good news! American Airlines and LATAM are partners! This means we managed to book our tickets from Santiago to Puerto Natales in Patagonia, Chile, for almost completely free, as well, (the taxes cost about $10), using only 10,000 AA miles to fly direct non-stop from Santiago, also on LATAM.  Stay tuned for later posts on Patagonia, and Santiago.

Btw, yes, it’s true, we went to Easter Island and Patagonia during the same two week trip, and IT WAS GREAT.  I highly recommend this itinerary!

travel cutie in patagonia january 2019
Enjoying the brisk air in front of a gorgeous glacial lake in Patagonia, Chile

And in case you’re wondering how we got from Boston to Santiago in the first place, well, what do you think? Of course that was a “free” ticket, too (taxes per person cost about $57). Although I had tried for months to get tickets on American Airlines, no could do on aa.com, unless I wanted to “pay” over 100k miles for economy, and I did not. Had I booked 330 days in advance, I would have gotten those tickets for 60,000 miles, each, but we didn’t decide to do Chile until it was a bit later than that, so, instead, we got our tickets to Santiago on Delta, with a layover in Atlanta, for 74,000 miles each. A good deal? Oh, yes, and a good time was had by all.

And in case you want to put your Delta miles to even more good use, know that Delta Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas are partners, too.  This means that it’s very easy to fly to a variety of destinations in Latin America for free, using Delta miles on Aerolineas Argentinas flights.

Buen viaje!

 

 

 


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