Review: Explora Hotel Rapa Nui, Easter Island

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For our three nights on Easter Island we decided to stay at Explora Rapa Nui, which is generally regarded as the best hotel on the island. Here’s a full review of the experience.

Booking Explora Easter Island

This was my first stay at an Explora property, though I had heard of the brand before, as I’ve also been intrigued by their properties in the Atacama DesertPatagonia, etc. While I’ve heard great things about the hotels, they’re also quite pricey. Here are their normal per person rates for the dates we were staying (in USD):

As you can see, a three night stay would ordinarily cost you $5,040 for two people ($2,520 per person), which is steep.

However, at the time we booked they were celebrating their 10th anniversary, and they had a promotion where two people could stay for the price of one. The catch is that when one person stays there’s a 34% surcharge. In that case, that meant a three night stay for two people cost $2,520 plus 34%, or $3,377, or ~$1,125 per night. That’s about one third off.

While that’s a lot of money, what makes Explora unique is that they offer a truly all inclusive experience. At Explora virtually everything is included, from your airport pick-ups, to all your excursions (typically two per day, lasting eight hours), breakfast, lunch, dinner, alcohol, etc. We didn’t spend a dime in cash the whole time we were on Easter Island.

Note that Explora belongs to Virtuoso, but since the resort is already all inclusive, the Virtuoso amenities are a $100 gift card to be used in the gift shop, plus an upgrade subject to availability. The hotel only has two types of rooms — the base rooms and a few suites — so being able to get an upgrade is potentially hugely valuable. If you want to book this hotel using a Virtuoso rate, Ford would be happy to help (he can be reached at [email protected]).

Explora Easter Island airport pick-up and check-in

As we exited the airport we were greeted by a friendly representative from Explora, who gave us leis and had us take a seat in one of their vans, as we waited for the other people from our flight to arrive.

Explora Easter Island welcome leis

That included about five other people, and we had to wait about 30 minutes, as they had checked bags.

Explora Easter Island van

The hotel itself is a short drive from the airport, so within 10 minutes we were there. The hotel can be reached by a long and very bumpy dirt road, so you have to drive down that every time you go on an excursion, etc.

Explora Easter Island exterior

We were directed to reception, where we were welcomed by the guest relations manager, Paulina. Since everyone had already filled out a credit card authorization form, the check-in formalities took all of 30 seconds. We were acquainted with the basic facilities of the hotel, introduced to the explorations coordinator, Diego, and then escorted to our room.

Explora Easter Island reception

The hotel has a total of 30 rooms, including 26 base rooms and four suites, and we were assigned room #7. For what it’s worth, it seemed like on average about a dozen rooms were taken during our stay, so it was fairly quiet.

Explora Easter Island walkway

Our room was towards the left of the resort — every entrance has two rooms, with one on each side.

Explora Easter Island room entrance

Here’s a map of the hotel, to give you a sense of the layout:

As you can see, there are four buildings with rooms, and then the big building in the middle has the restaurant, bar, cafe, lounge, etc.

The room wasn’t huge, though it was nicely appointed. Explora definitely goes for decor that feels appropriate for the destination, rather than something that’s over-the-top luxe and feels out of place. The room was apparently about 350 square feet.

Explora Easter Island Varua Room entryway

The room had a comfortable king size bed, then a cushion by the window that you could sit on, then a bench at the foot of the bed, and then two seats across from the bed.

Explora Easter Island Varua Room

Explora Easter Island Varua Room

Explora Easter Island Varua Room

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room seating

Back near the entrance was a closet.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room closet

By the window was a bottle of water, and then two canisters that were a welcome gift that you could use for your explorations, and then take home with you. There’s a filtered water “tap” in the center of the hotel, so you can grab water there whenever you’d like.

Explora Easter Island Varua Room water & bottles

The room had views of the nearby nature, and of the pool in the distance.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room view

The room featured double sinks.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room bathroom

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room bathroom

To the left of the sinks was a shower/tub combo. The shower was massive, and water pressure excellent.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room shower

Toiletries were Explora branded, and seemed to be pretty good quality.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room toiletries

Then the toilet and bidet were to the right.

Explora Rapa Nui Varua Room toilet

Note that the rooms don’t have TV or Wi-Fi. Apparently this is by design, as Explora is intended to get you to disconnect. While we were using our phones on Easter Island, only the town seems to have data, so we had no data while in our room. That meant when we were in our room we were truly disconnected.

Personally I prefer having access to Wi-Fi in rooms, since it seems a bit idealistic to suggest that people should be able to completely unwind. I imagine there are a good number of people who can afford to splurge on things like this because they’re still able to work while traveling, rather than being shut off from the world completely. Anyway, it wasn’t a huge deal, and I got used to it after the first stay.

The good news is that the Wi-Fi in the public spaces is quite good — I was told it was apparently the best on the island.

Explora Easter Island pool & spa

The hotel’s pool was down a wooden path from our room. We didn’t have time to use it since we spent almost all of our time exploring.

Explora Easter Island walkway to pool

There was a pool, hot tub, and also an igloo looking thing of sorts, which was apparently a sauna (though I was told it was under construction). I love the design, though.

Explora Easter Island pool

Explora Easter Island sauna

Explora Easter Island pool

Explora Easter Island pool

On our last evening we also arranged to have a spa treatment. This is the only service that isn’t included at the hotel. A 60 minute massage was $100 (which I thought was reasonable for a hotel of this caliber), and the massage quality was exceptional. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

Explora Easter Island spa

There were two individual spa rooms, and both were cute.

Explora Easter Island spa

Explora Easter Island spa

Explora Easter Island restaurant, cafe, bar, lounge, etc.

The focal part of the hotel is the beautiful main building.

Explora Easter Island main building

The views from here were breathtaking.

Explora Easter Island main building

Just outside the building was the tap I mentioned above, where you could refill your water prior to explorations.

Explora Easter Island water

The main building has a cafe, lounge, bar, and restaurant. As you enter the building, the first thing you’ll come across is the cafe. This is also where all explorations start, so it’s where you meet in the mornings and afternoons before you go out.

Explora Easter Island cafe

Explora Easter Island cafe

The cafe had a Lavazza espresso machine with phenomenal cappuccinos that you could order all hours of the day. Yum, yum, yum. I enjoyed one of these before breakfast every morning while getting caught up on work.

Explora Easter Island cafe

Explora Easter Island cappuccino 

There was also sunscreen and bug repellent here. The sun screen was most definitely needed, given how strong the sun gets on Easter Island.

Explora Easter Island sunscreen 

Next to that is the hotel’s gift shop, should you need to buy a jacket or something.

Explora Easter Island gift shop

Then next to the cafe is a cozy little lounge of sorts. This is where I spent my time working when I wasn’t out exploring.

Explora Easter Island lounge

Explora Easter Island lounge

Then there was a door, and on the other side of the door was the bar, which included high-top seating, had some tables and chairs as well, and then had a bunch more tables in a separate area.

Explora Easter Island bar

Explora Easter Island bar

As I mentioned above, the hotel is truly all inclusive, including alcohol whenever you want it. Every night we’d have a drink or two here before going to dinner. They made excellent pisco sours.

Explora Easter Island drinks

Here’s their bar menu, though you could order just about anything (the prices are for non-guests, since everything is free for guests):

Then past the bar was the restaurant, where we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Explora Easter Island restaurant

Explora Easter Island restaurant

Explora Easter Island lunch & dinner experience

Lunch and dinner at Explora were insanely good. Lunch was served from 1PM until 3PM, while dinner was served between 7PM and 10PM. However, it’s clear that they’re a bit flexible, but due to how explorations are scheduled, that works for just about anyone.

The meals were so great, and were always something to look forward to after our explorations. As in the bar area, drinks are included, and they have a very nice selection of Chilean wines.

Explora Easter Island wine

Explora Easter Island wine

Personally I liked the sauvignon blanc most, as usual.

Explora Easter Island wine

The tables were beautifully set, and we were always offered our choice of water, warm bread, and a tasty tomato spread.

Explora Easter Island lunch table setting

Both lunch and dinner consisted of three course meals. The menus rotated daily, and the only differnece between the lunch and dinner menu was that one appetizer changed. Otherwise the mains and dessert were identical on any given day. This worked great for us, since there were always so many appealing options on the menu.

For example, here’s our menu for day one:

Here’s our menu for day two:

And here’s our menu for day three:

Truly, I can’t say enough good things about the quality and presentation of all the food we tried. It was incredible, and the restaurant had friendly and attentive service to match. I’ll let the pictures of the food (along with descriptions of what the food is) speak for themselves.

Explora Easter Island appetizer — ceviche Rapa Nui

Explora Easter Island appetizer — vegetable tart with serrano ham

Explora Easter Island appetizer — tuna slice with yellow chili pepper sauce

Explora Easter Island appetizer — tuna salad

Explora Easter Island appetizer — pea soup

Explora Easter Island appetizer — tomato soup

Explora Easter Island main course — local fish with mushrooms and spinach

Explora Easter Island main course — local fish with rice, chutney, and spinach

Explora Easter Island main course — lamb chop with ratatouille

Explora Easter Island main course — pumpkin risotto

Explora Easter Island main course — vegetable ravioli with pumpkin sauce

Explora Easter Island dessert — strawberry sable with yogurt ice cream

Explora Easter Island dessert — caramel flan

Explora Easter Island dessert — cold chocolate and cinnamon cake with berries sauce

Explora Easter Island dessert — red fruit crumble with vanilla ice cream

The service was as good as you’d expect in any restaurant, and there was never anything to sign, and no soliciting of tips.

Explora Easter Island restaurant view

Explora Easter Island breakfast experience

The hotel serves breakfast daily from 7:30AM until 10:30AM. We were so impressed by the other meals (in terms of service, food quality, and presentation) that we figured breakfast would be great as well. My gosh, what a let down, by comparison. Let’s save the service for the end.

For breakfast there was quite a small buffet.

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

On the plus side, they had freshly squeezed juice and a small selection of fresh fruit.

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Then there was cereal, two types of yogurt, pastries, and cold cuts.

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Explora Easter Island breakfast buffet

Then there was a breakfast menu to complement it, which was limited to eggs, quinoa, and pancakes.

The eggs here were disgusting. The omelet was dripping in oil. Like, there was so much oil when I pushed down on the omelet that I could have probably filled a quarter of a glass. The next day I specifically asked for an omelet with as little oil as possible, and it was still drenched in oil.

Explora Easter Island breakfast — omelet

The last morning I had the quinoa instead (since I wasn’t going to make the mistake of ordering an omelet again), which I didn’t like at all.

Explora Easter Island breakfast — quinoa

So while the other meals were so great, breakfast was a huge disappointment. The biggest issue wasn’t even the food quality, but the service. One morning I had to ask for coffee four times before it was served. They couldn’t seem to deliver anything on time either. The second morning we waited 40(!!!!) minutes for our eggs, despite asking three times on the status of them.

We weren’t alone in feeling that way. The people at the table across from us asked if we had been waiting as long as they were, and they just stormed out, because their excursion started around then. Completely unacceptable, in my opinion.

For what it’s worth, when we left the hotel we briefly spoke to the guest relations manager. We raved about what a great experience we had, though shared that we thought the overall breakfast experience was subpar compared to everything else.

Explora Easter Island bottom line

With the exception of the breakfast experience (which they need to figure out), this hotel otherwise exceeded my expectations. The staff were incredibly friendly, the lunch and dinner food quality and overall experience was exceptional, and I appreciate that the hotel truly doesn’t nickel and dime, so cappuccinos, pisco sours, etc., are free all day.

None of this even begins to get into the incredible explorations we had from the hotel, which I’ll discuss in the next installment. We’re lucky that our good business class fares to Easter Island came out around the same time as Explora’s 10th anniversary, which meant we got about a third off. If you are looking for the best place to stay in Easter Island and can afford Explora, I’d recommend it.

  1. Great review of the hotel! I am looking forward to the review of the excursions. Too bad about the subpar breakfast. I don’t need a fancy breakfast spread, but I don’t see bacon as a standalone option in the buffer or menu. That’s really substandard.

  2. “Which is reasonable for a hotel of this caliber”

    Uhm am I missing something here? What caliber are we talking about?
    The whole hotel looks to be at an average 4* standard – so totally overpriced. I am having trouble finding anything attractive in the included pictures…
    I have stayed in tons of better looking hotels for a true fraction of the price.

  3. I know costs are high on Easter Island because of the need to fly almost everything in. But a rack rate of $2500 per person is beyond comprehension. I was on Easter Island about 15 months ago for 4 nights in a nice local hotel. I had a guide, and airport transfers. I ate at pleasant local places. I spent less than $1500 for the whole trip, including business class air from Santiago.
    I recognize that you are in the business of reviewing luxury hotels. I’m surprised you could recommend this place given the breakfast fail and the exorbitant price.

  4. I agree with the comments above. I was on Easter Island in August and my hotel was also 10 minutes from the airport. On foot (even though I got a free pick-up and drop-off). Entire town is accessible on foot so lots of easy opportunities to venture out and explore. It cost me $150/night and it was beautiful. Free, good, breakfast and I could choose to eat anywhere on the island which allowed me to have an opportunity to have dinner with Matt Dillon (yes, that one) and his girlfriend. Twice. One was in an amazing Japanese restaurant that you should have tried, it was outstanding. Got a guide for 2 days for $90/day who was absolutely amazing as well. $3,400 for three nights is still a terrible value given all the opportunities on the island. To anyone considering Easter Island, I would choose other, much cheaper accommodations.

  5. Seems like a total ripoff even with the discount. Why can’t they smooth put the drive close-in to their property? Why are you left sitting in a van for 30 minutes for others when you were ready to go and the hotel is only 10 minutes away? They were only half full but you didn’t get an upgrade. Were they expecting walk-ins? 350 square feet is completely average size for a hotel room. Nothing luxurious or extra about there. I realize the decor us site specific, but the public areas are much more inviting and comfy looking than your room. It seems like a treatment center rather than a resort room. There also appears to be plenty of land available so that small room size was by design and not necessity. Terrible looking breakfast which except for the fresh juices looks like any budget motel (a lot of toast and cereal). You’d also think for $1,300 a day they could throw in at least 1 massage, but I guess not.
    Nothing in your room looks comfortable. Those wicker chairs? No thanks. Good to see they have sofas and pillows in the lobby.
    And how much do Pisco Sours and Cappuccinos usually run you two when you travel? $400…$500 a day? Otherwise I don’t see the value in that either. Having all three meals every day in the hotel might be easy, but it sure seems to limit your exposure to the rest of the island after touring.
    In my eye it appears like you saw a special price and went for it, and then had to justify to yourself that it was worth it.

  6. Benjamin,

    I understand you do not have a choice – but Ford ripped you off with a commission in mind. You are probably the only person to believe he is a guru of anything.

  7. As always, this was a wonderful review. I truly appreciated the attention to detail. However, I am disappointed that neither of our boys tried the beetle risotto.

  8. Lucky thanks for the review which is informative as usual. I’ve been looking at Easter Island as a destination for some time, so this is useful. However I am struggling to wrap my head around how this hotel is worth the money (even on the special, let alone rack rate).

    Does it come across as much more luxurious in person? In the photos nothing about the finishes, the facilities or even the food looks super premium (the food and menu looks like good quality but fairly standard upscale South American fare?). I would never expect a massive marble-and-gilt palace style of decor on Easter Island but come on…Paired with the terrible breakfast experience and lack of free spa treatments I just can’t see where the value comes in…

    As some others have commented I would also be furious at a price point of ~1,100 USD/night if I was kept waiting for half an hour in a van at the airport so they could collect other guests.

  9. @Jan

    Maybe you missed it, the hotel isn’t located in New York it’s on Easter Island….

    Makes a lot of sense comparing prices when you look at it that way

  10. Lucky you stated that you didnt spend any more money during your stay except the inhouse massage.
    Correct me if im wrong, but you and your companion didnt try any other restaurants or eateries on the island nor did you buy any souvenirs?
    How do the local people benefit directly apart from the inhouse guides. This sounds just bizarre. On one hand frugal and cheap while on the other hand pretentious and showy.
    I just dont get it.

  11. Good for you that you’re raking in money with this blog. But you’re so far off the original purpose of it, maybe use 2018 to simple rebrand as “first class life in pictures”. All those first class PAID emirates etc tickets, the $1500 a night hotel. Like really? Do you think that’s appropriate anymore?

    What will you do once the blog money dries out btw? Do you think you can go back to a normal lifestyle? Just curious.

  12. My $50 offered private airport pickups with lei, reduced Jeep rentals and personalized recommendations. Total cost for three days was like $300-500 for two people, it was little so didn’t count.

    You got ripped off majorly

  13. Why do you always make the same mistake, when there isn’t any chain hotel? Guess 90% of us would get a better value for money when planing this trip…and you do that full-time! Are you forced to always book the best (in your opinion the most expensive) property? Seems so….

  14. Ben: Your review of the Explora Lodge once again proves to me that you are amazingly thorough and very good at what you do; as a world traveler I usually really appreciate your information.
    In the case of the Explora Lodge, where I have stayed a number of times, I must say that you “missed the boat.” For a short time it was considered “the best on the island” and even then I preferred to stay in a less “luxurious” place in a better location. I have never met the owner of the chain but I imagine it to be a person with a huge overblown ego. As some one noticed, it really is not that luxurious and yes, the rates are “way over the top” ~ the renovated Hanga Roa is infinitely better and in a fabulous location, near the town and the harbor (NOT in the middle of nowhere). Their own supposedly “superb local guides” are very average, I prefer any of the scholars who reside on the island (where I have been going very frequently since the 70’s).
    The food is good but nothing justifies the extremely high rates (in my view).
    I really hope that you will try some other places on this fabulous island next time!!!!

  15. You missed so much by isolating at Explora. What a pity. Spending extra should have bought you a richer experience but I’m afraid you got taken this time

  16. My, how Easter Island has changed. When I was there, your hotel was not built. The hotel restaurant that I went to had only 2 entrees and only one of them was served each day. They said that beef was completely unavailable on the island because the last cow had been slaughtered a year or so earlier.

    At that time, there was no surgeon on the island but the island doctor said it was possible to do an appendectomy using horse anesthesia. If you needed your gallbladder out, you would be flown to the mainland.

    All of the above, I am not joking.

  17. Why are there sunglasses on the floor in the lunch room photo? Just wondering. Seems like an odd place to store them.

  18. What about the Hanga Roa Eco Lodge? Seems like a better value–and better located–than the Explora.

  19. @tda
    Thanks, I was hoping they wouldn’t be serving beetle risottos. If they were, I would question what’s in the rest of the food.

  20. What a tourist trap. There are plenty of perfectly passable hotels in Hanga Roa that are walking distance of Moais (and cost 1/10th of what you paid) — the Ahu Tahai is a sight to see at sunset. You also get to meet the locals, which is an experience in itself, and eat at some very interesting restaurants.

    You travelled all the way there and you ended up at a generic tourist-trap place in the middle of nowhere. I expected better.

  21. @Chris Jensen

    They’re take was by the window. If you look in the previous photos you see there’s a wooden ledge next to the tables for two. That’s where (Ford’s) sunglasses are laid. 🙂

  22. If Four Seasons, Mandarin, Aman, or Awasi set up shop at this island, problems with breakfast or miserable looking finishes would be taken care of. But since this island is in the middle of nowhere and luxury competition is next to none, Explora will have to make do. Will be heading out to this Explora soon. Preparing for the worse. Need to check off Easter Island off my bucket list. Look forward to better stays on mainland South America or better yet, resorts in South East Asia where service standard, food, and room finishes is higher with similar price point or lower. Thanks for the review Lucky. When u go to Patagonia, stick with Awasi, better product and better food.

  23. I stayed at the Explora Atacama which looks very similar to this property with the same issues. The guides were fabulous but the rooms were basic and the food was mediocre. The property charged way too much money for what it offered.

    Would the people who commented who were happy with their guides and hotels mind posting the details?

  24. Lord – they saw y’all a coming with “sucker” written on your foreheads!! Also, that room looks sterile, cold and uninviting. Thanks for the review and reaffirming that I certainly won’t be getting ripped off by staying at the Explora should I ever go to Easter Island.

  25. I’m with the other comments, for someone who travels so much, you do a really poor job at maximizing value

  26. Thanks for the amazing review! After reading this we booked our flights to Easter Island tough we will try Hanga Roa Ecovillage, as it is privately owned and therefore attracted me slightly more, also because as you said explora is very expensive.

  27. You are truly a very irresponsible journalist, if I should even give you that honor & privilege!
    Perhaps I should call you a freeloader!
    You get crappy over priced hotel rooms like this for free and then advertise for them, completely irresponsible and self-centered of you for your personal gain!
    At least I tell people to use points to stay at 5 star properties in Kuala Lumpur for free, or to stay at 4/5 star boutique hotels in Siem Reap (Residence 101 & Grand Elysee La Residence) for $50 dollars per night with dinner & massage included or go on a 4 day boat trip to Southern part of Turkey with meals for $200 bucks, stay at gorgeous Riads in Chefchaouen, Taghazout, Essouirra for $50 dollars per night, all inclusive with home made Pancakes and bakery and freshly squeezed orange juice in Morocco.
    Stay at the gorgeous Le Meridien in Marrakesh for 2000 SPG points for a weekend night & experience a real palace like environment, get treated by the front desk manager Fatima like royalty and get amazing service from Mr. Saeed who has been the hotel porter for 43 years and remembers every single time you have stayed there, which room and your preferences.
    Please be a responsible blogger and not a self centered person just for your personal gains because you like to stay at luxury hotels and fly first class, but of course you do not have to pay out of your own pocket, everything is at other people’s expenses. You would never pay 3k or 5 K with your airfare included for a weekend. I like to know if you claim that you do, where do you get the money for it?
    Nobody in their right mind will pay 5k for a 3 night trip to Easter Island, in a crappy hotel which should not cost over $70 dollars per night and on a crappy airline that I can not even justify to use my airline miles on, needless to stay to pay real cash for it!
    We all, do not buy your bluff and lies on the net…

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