Nestled on the eastern coast of the Big Island, Hilo is a Hawaiian gem waiting to be discovered. This charming town is renowned for its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and unique attractions. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking relaxation, Hilo has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in Hilo, Hawaii, ensuring that your visit to this tropical paradise is nothing short of unforgettable.
Immerse Yourself in Nature at Rainbow Falls: Begin your Hilo adventure by marveling at the breathtaking Rainbow Falls. Located just a short drive from downtown, these cascading falls are a testament to Hawaii’s natural beauty. Surrounded by lush greenery and often adorned with rainbows in the mist, Rainbow Falls is a must-see for any visitor.
Explore Liliuokalani Park and Gardens: For a serene escape, head to Liliuokalani Park and Gardens, the largest ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan. Stroll through manicured lawns, over bridges, and alongside fish-filled ponds, all while enjoying the stunning views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon picnic.
Visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum: Delve into Hilo’s history by visiting the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Hilo has a unique relationship with tsunamis, and this museum provides a fascinating insight into the town’s resilience in the face of natural disasters. Engaging exhibits and firsthand accounts recount the impact of past tsunamis on Hilo.
Discover the Akaka Falls State Park: A short drive north of Hilo will take you to Akaka Falls State Park. Embark on a scenic hike through lush rainforest, where you’ll encounter multiple waterfalls, with the stunning 442-foot Akaka Falls as the centerpiece. The verdant surroundings and the constant sound of rushing water make this an enchanting experience.
Indulge in Local Flavors at the Hilo Farmers Market: For a taste of Hilo’s local culture, visit the Hilo Farmers Market. Open daily, this vibrant market showcases a plethora of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delicious local snacks. Engage with friendly vendors, sample exotic fruits, and take home a piece of Hilo’s culinary diversity.
Snorkel at Richardson Ocean Park: Hilo offers fantastic opportunities for snorkeling, and Richardson Ocean Park is a prime location. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover a colorful underwater world filled with tropical fish and coral formations. The park also features a black sand beach, adding to the unique charm of the experience.
Take a Scenic Drive Along the Hamakua Coast: Rent a car and embark on a picturesque drive along the Hamakua Coast. Marvel at breathtaking vistas of lush valleys, towering waterfalls, and the vast Pacific Ocean. Don’t miss the scenic overlooks like Waipio Valley and the botanical wonders of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
Admire the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center: Discover the delicious world of macadamia nuts at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center. Take a guided tour to learn about the nut’s journey from tree to snack and indulge in free samples. Don’t forget to pick up some locally-produced macadamia treats as souvenirs.
Experience the Mokupapapa Discovery Center: For a unique educational experience, visit the Mokupapapa Discovery Center. This interactive museum focuses on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and their marine ecosystems. Engaging exhibits, including a simulated deep-sea dive, provide insights into the region’s biodiversity and conservation efforts.
Attend a Traditional Hula Performance: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending a traditional hula performance. The Hilo area often hosts events and shows where you can witness the grace and beauty of this ancient dance form. Check local schedules to catch a live performance and feel the rhythm of Hawaii.
Stroll Through the Old Hilo Town: Take a leisurely stroll through Old Hilo Town to appreciate its historic charm. Explore the quaint shops, art galleries, and cafes housed in restored buildings. The architecture reflects the town’s rich past, offering a glimpse into the Hawaii of yesteryear.
Hike to the Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder Cone: Adventure seekers will enjoy the hike to Pu’u Huluhulu, a volcanic cinder cone with panoramic views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The trail winds through lava fields and native flora, providing an immersive experience of Hilo’s volcanic landscapes.
Engage in Water Activities at Coconut Island: Coconut Island, also known as Mokuola, is a small islet in Hilo Bay with a causeway connecting it to the mainland. This is a popular spot for water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking. The serene surroundings make it an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the ocean breeze.
Take a Helicopter Tour: For a bird’s-eye view of Hilo’s spectacular landscapes, consider a helicopter tour. Soar above lush valleys, cascading waterfalls, and volcanic craters. This thrilling experience provides a unique perspective of the island’s natural wonders.
Relax at Ahalanui Park’s Hot Ponds: Ahalanui Park is home to a natural hot spring-fed pond, creating a relaxing oasis with warm, geothermally heated water. Take a soothing dip in the pond surrounded by palm trees and enjoy the contrast of the warm water against the cool ocean breeze.
Conclusion: Hilo, Hawaii, invites you to embrace the spirit of aloha while exploring its diverse attractions. From stunning waterfalls to cultural landmarks, this town offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality that define Hilo, making it an idyllic destination for anyone seeking an authentic Hawaiian experience.