Easter Island – and scuba diving, too? Yes!!!

Wow, what a place!  Stark, beautiful, slow-paced, not a single traffic light. Moai to admire every where you turn around (even under water).  Just lovely, and simple, no bells and whistles needed.  Probably because it’s so remote. How remote?  2300 miles away from the nearest land mass. Polynesia that speaks Spanish and English, and can dance South Pacific style.  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, best to go there ASAP, while it is still pristine, and authentic.

And then there’s the diving. What a NICE surprise!. No, there is not a huge presence or variety of marine life, BUT, there is certainly 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 nearby the humans they happen upon.  And then there’s the 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-  incredible!

Loved the dive shop, too, and let me tell you, it’s been a while since I could say that…Too many outfits this past decade or two, do a lousy 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

Not the easiest place to get to, which is what preserves its  special and unique qualities.  You fly direct non -stop 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 anyway.  Despite complying with all the requirements of their credit card, no points, but, nine months worth of phone calls later and a lot of gray hairs, success! I must say though- I hate this bank, its treatment of its credit card users, and its customer service.  I have been doing the bonus, promotion, miles and points thing for quite a number of years now, and I can tell you, I HATE dealing with US Bank.  Their Flexperks program, was/is a real nuisance, totally user-unfriendly, and now I can only say the same for their co-branded LATAM Visa credit card. Oh well. Plenty of other fish in the sea of this sort to choose from), and the difficulty in actually booking anything (or even earning the miles that you flew on a paid ticket)? Forget about it!

Nonetheless we managed to get to Easter Island very economically, almost free.  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.

We went just before New Years, booked the tickets late summer/early fall.  LATAM offers three flights per day during this, the high season: Santiago to IPC (Isla de Pascua, Chile) 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 both 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 got even more credit towards the cost of our flights.   (We also managed to book our tickets to Puerto Natales in Patagonia, for almost completely free, 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. 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

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.


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