Last Saturday, Hawaiian Airlines inaugurated the only air service to the Cook Islands from North America. This may be your destination if you are looking for an unspoiled tropical paradise without big-chain hotels. The Cook Islands between Fiji and Tahiti are named for the great explorer, Captain Cook. The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands with Raratonga being the largest island and where the Raratonga Airport is located. Air New Zealand did fly from Los Angeles to the Cook Islands but that route was discontinued during Covid.
Hawaiian launched this new weekly service last Saturday to this group of 15 islands, 2,940 miles from Honolulu. The only other scheduled air services to the Cook Islands are by Air New Zealand from Auckland or Air Raratonga from Tahiti. Previously, Hawaiian Airlines did fly to the Cook Islands in the 1990s before service ended after only six years. Service had been provided from Tahiti by Air Tahiti until the carrier ended the route in 2020. This route has been taken over by Air Raratonga using turboprop aircraft. As you can see, the Cook Islands is remotely located and lacked reliable air service from North America.
Hawaiian’s New Service
Hawaiian flys this weekly service using Airbus A320NEO aircraft in a three-class layout:
- Business (First),
- Extra Comfort economy and
Round trip pricing in economy runs about $1,700 USD and $2,600 USD for business (first) class.
The block time for the outbound flight is 6:25 and the return flight is 6:15. Flights to the Cook Islands depart Honolulu at 4:00 pm on Saturdays and return flights depart Raratonga Sunday night at 11:35 pm.
“This service greatly expands travel opportunities between the Cook Islands and the US, thanks to our well-timed connections and robust network, including service between Hawai’i and eight California cities,” Hawaiian president and CEO Peter Ingram said in a December press release.
“Our Honolulu-Rarotonga flight bridges Hawaiʻi with another South Pacific neighbor and connects two archipelagos that share Polynesian roots, rich culture, and endless tropical beauty,” Hawaiian’s vice president of airport operations Lokesh Amaranayak.
When I first saw this new route, I had no idea how remotely located the Cook Islands are and how difficult it is to reach this destination. This new service is the only direct routing from the United States which makes this just a one-stop hop from North America. Hawaiian did operate this service decades ago only to abandon the route after six years of operation. It will be interesting to see if Hawaiian can make this work. I like the idea of a tropical island destination without the big, commercial hype like Hawaii.