Hawaiian Airlines will begin services between Honolulu and the Cook Islands on May 20, offering another option for travelers looking to visit the secluded beaches of the South Pacific nation. The airline previously flew to the Cook Islands from 1987 to 1993.
Customers will be able to book tickets to Rarotonga on Hawaiian’s website starting Dec. 7. The airline will offer one weekly nonstop flight from its hub at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to Rarotonga International Airport (RAR), and the flights will operate throughout the summer travel season.
The Cook Islands, a nation of 15 islands in the South Pacific, is known for its serene beaches and volcanic peaks. Its tourism website describes the Cook Islands as “an unspoiled paradise” with “no buildings taller than a coconut tree.”
Those flying from Hawaiian’s 15 gateway cities in the mainland U.S. can take a connecting flight to Rarotonga, the largest of the 15 islands, from Honolulu. While Hawaiian has extensive operations across Hawaii, it also operates from a number of mainland U.S. cities. That includes eight cities in California, as well as others like Seattle, Boston, New York City and Portland, Oregon.
“This service greatly expands travel opportunities between the Cook Islands and the United States, thanks to our well-timed connections and robust network, including service between Hawai‘i and eight California cities,” said Peter Ingram, CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.
The flight will depart Honolulu at 4 p.m. GMT on Saturdays and arrive in Rarotonga at 10:25 p.m. UTC on the same day. Returning flights will leave Rarotonga at 11:25 p.m. UTC on Sundays and arrive in Honolulu at 5:50 a.m. GMT on Mondays.
Hawaiian plans to operate both flights with its Airbus A321neo aircraft, which features 16 recliner seats in first class, 45 premium economy seats with extra legroom and 128 standard economy seats.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown lauded the announcement, saying in a statement that the route will help boost tourism to the islands.
“We welcome this timely announcement from Hawaiian Airlines as we look to rebuild our tourism industry and strengthen access to our northern hemisphere markets,” Brown said. “Inbound tourism is a key economic driver for our nation, and to reach our potential, we need access from the larger international markets.”