My wife and I booked an excursion in Hilo through our cruise line (Celebrity). We always book our excursions through the ship since it provides insurance protection and a guarantee that you will get back to the ship if anything goes wrong on the tour. We had friends who had their tour bus break down and it took three hours for them to get back to the cruise ship; because it was an excursion through the cruise ship they held the departure time from port until they all made it back. I don’t mind paying more for an excursion for that sense of security.
Our shore excursion was booked with Kapohokine Adventures which is an ecofriendly tour company. I had been to the Big Island previously but this was my wife’s first time and she wanted a tour. Our tour guide Josh was a local who was born and raised on The Big Island in Puna. We had an amazing day and saw some incredible sights: Macadamian Nut Plantation, Lava Tubes, Botanic Gardens, Akaka Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls, Uma Uma Falls, Onomea Bay, Rainbow Falls, Onomea Falls, and some other sights along Route 19. We had some interesting weather that day that ranged from sun to torrential downpours; we had fun despite getting a bit soggy. The rain mad the weaterfalls roar with the abundance of water which made for a spectacular sight.
The last part of our tour that day was a hike to a private waterfall followed by a picnic lunch. Due to the rain that day the trail was incredibly muddy and my wife was up to her thigh in mud during the trek; fortunately she had water shoes on to keep herself steady. Our lunch was a nice one with grilled meats and chicken along with assorted veggies and salads.
We had a great time with the tour and met some nice people as well. Our tour guide was amazing and very funny. I would suggest this tour to anyone visiting the island.
Lyman House Museum
On the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built by David and Sarah Lyman, who had been sent to the Island kingdom of Hawaii as missionaries for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. 276 Haili Street. (The roof on the house is a modern one, suitable for preservation in the damp Hilo climate. The original roof was made of thatch.)
The Museum offers guided tours of the house, and also features several fascinating exhibits about the geography, environment, and cultures of the Hawaiian islands.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Onomea Bay is considered to be the prettiest stretch of the Big Island Coastline and I can agree with that statement. I have driven this scenic road before and have appreciated the beautiful view of the bay and the lush greenery. My most recent visit to Onomea Bay was in February 2013. We were on a tour and one of the stops was the secenic lookout along the Mamalahoa Highway.
The Bay is beautiful to look out but the water below is definitely hazzardous with crashing waves and sharp rocks. There are many warning signs posted to watch for rock slides and not to swim in the waters.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens is located on the way to see the volcanoes.
If you’re planning a trip to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, stop by to see their display room. They are open 7 days a week, from 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. The building has easy access and is wheel chair accessible.
If you love orchids then you will love looking around their show room.
You can also send orchids back home to your family and friends.
That way they won't be so upset about you getting to go to Hawaii and they didn't.Related to:
In 1946 and again in 1960 Hilo was hit with destructive tsunamis. While they pale in comparison to the recent one in Indonesia, they had a big impact on the city, taking many lives and causing almost total destruction of parts of the city. They are well documented in this museum which is housed in a former bank building - one of the few downtown which survived. The old bank vault is now the room where you view their video about the tsunamis. I was interested to learn that "tsunami" is a Japanese word meaning "big wave in the harbor." Apt enough!
The poster shown in the photo is of a picture taken on the main street the day the 1946 tsunami hit. The local folk had identified everyone except the man in the foreground until very recently when he, George Wong now living on the US East Coast, saw a tv special on tsunamis and heard they wanted to know who he was. He called and they were delighted to hear his story.
We were met by a volunteer (Donna Saike who is also VP of the Board of Directors) who gave us a good introduction to the history of these events. She is retired and is the former principal of the local highschool so had a great deal of personal experience to share. I later saw a book of pictures done by school children given in honor of her. I think she was on duty the day George Wong called to identify himself.
There is a wealth of information here about the causes of tsunamis and the current efforts in tracking and warning systems.Related to:
LYMAN MISSION HOUSE AND MUSEUM
Great history lesson. Good curated walking tour thru mission house. There are stairs. Nice activity for a rainy day in Hilo.
Built in 1839 by David and Sarah Lyman, Congregationalist missionaries, Lyman House is the oldest frame building on the island. In the adjacent museum, dedicated in 1973, the Earth Heritage Gallery includes a realistic magma chamber and displays the Earth's formation and the arrival of life, with a section on Hawaiian flora and fauna. You can view unique artifacts of Hawaiian and other major ethnic groups in the Island Heritage Gallery. The gift shop sells a map of the tsunami flows in the Hilo area. COST: $7. OPEN: Mon.-Sat. 9-4:30.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Kilouea and Volcano National Park
This is probably the only national park in the world that has an active (I mean really active) volcano. If the timing is right, you maybe able to see flowing lava very close to you.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution -- processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes.
Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day all year; Kilauea Visitor Center is open daily from 7:45 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.; Jaggar Museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Exotic bites at the Hilo Farmer's Market
The Hilo Farmer's Market has lots of fresh produce and many of the items are exotics that you wouldn't find on the US mainland. It was fun just looking at all the different fruits and vegetables. There are also a myriad of vendors selling everything from tasty treats from different cusines (Filipino, Vietnamese, Samoan, Local Hawaiian, etc.), organic goat cheese, organic handmade soaps, candles, tropical flowers, clothes, and souvenirs.
There is street parking, as well as the parking lots on the waterfront of Downtown Hilo.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
Hilo Farmers Market
Every wednesday and Saturday, from dawn to dark, is the infamous Hilo Farmers Market nestled in the heart of the historic center. Here over 200 local farmers and craftspeople come to sell their produce, fruits, wares, crafts, and tropical flowers. One of the best, and cheapest, places to get fresh vegetables and tropical fruits of a large variety and assortment including organic produce. Often found are cherimoya, jaboticaba, jack fruit, lychee, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, rambutan, soursop, strawberries, white pineapple, baby ginger, bitter melon, bok choy, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, sweet corn, warabi, bonsai plants, herbs, orchids, protea, anthuriums, awa, coconut, jelly, tamales, bread, seafood, beads, drums, clothing, jewelry, shell anklets, t-shirts, woodworks, and much much more. Of course during my visit, I was captivated by the various assortments of tropical fruits of which I indulged greatly in. Definitely a hot spot for any travellers coming through Hilo. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
Pacific Tsunami Museum
The Pacific Tsunami Museum is a non-profit run organization spreading the awareness and preparedness for the natural disaster of the tsunami. They believe through education and awareness no one ever should die again in Hawaii from a tsunami. They also act as a preservation museum for the social and cultural history of Hawaii as well as a memorial for those who lost their lives in tsunamis. In the shadow of the volcanoes, they feel that not many concern themselves about tsunamis which is a real threat for Hawaii as tsunamis have killed more people in Hawaii than all other natural disasters combined. They claim that from 1900-1964 there was a tsunami every five years exceeding 1 meter run-up. April 1st, 1946 and May 23, 1960 were devastating periods for Hilo by tsunamis. They feel all of Hawaii is not prepared for the disasters to come. Over the last 30 years there has been major population growth without the effect of tsunamis. The luck can only last so long. People have forgotten how devastating this natural catastrophe can be. By passing on stories, documentation, histories, photos, and evidence of these tragedies, they can teach the people to be prepared. They work in collaboration with the International Tsunami Information Center, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and the University of Hawaii, as well as State and County Civil Defense Agencies. The museum houses exhibits to interpret the phenomena, the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, history of tsunamis in the Pacific Basin, tsunamis of the future, myths & legends, and public safety measures for this type of disaster. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. General admission is $8.00 as of the writing of this piece.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Two of the most active volcanoes in the world lie within its boundaries.
Hawaii Volcanos National Park is located 45 minute drive from Hilo.
For the past 20 yrs, the erupting Kilauea volcano has been the #1 attraction on the Big Island.
The park is open 24 hrs a day, seven days a week.
The cost per vehicle is $10 which includes all passengers.
It is an easy drive on a good paved road.
If you plan to visit the park, bring a waterproof jacket, a hat, sunglasses, hiking shoes, a torch/flashlight, and bottled water.
Be sure to arrive with a full tank of gas as there is no where to buy gas within the park.Related to:
- National/State Park
Down the Puna Coast about 12 miles from Hilo is the small laid back town of Pahoa.
This started out as a logging town, the theater claims to be the oldest one in the state.
Th narrow wooden sidewalks are lined with vintage shops. It looks like a town out of an old western movie.
You can find a natural grocery store here and some restaurants serving good food.
Don't be surprised to see dreadlocks and tie dye here also. This town is stuck in the 70's.Related to:
- Road Trip
There is a very scenic drive about 7 miles north of Hilo. On the highway it is posted Scenic Drive.
The narrow 2 lane road has many turns and it is best to go here on a sunny dry day. It gets slick when wet.
There are several places where you can stop and look around, take some pictures, and just enjoy the tropical foliage.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Punaluu black-sand beach
For a unique experience, go see the black sand beach and watch the green turtles basking.
The turtles feed on the algae that flourishes in the brackish waters. Then they come up on the beach to rest.
Onekahakaha Beach Park
This park has rocky tidepools along the coast. Beautiful blooming trees and a great place for a swim. We liked to go there standing on the rocks looking for the Green sea turtles.
The turtles feed in the shallow coastal waters around all the Hawaiian islands.Related to:
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