Hilo Travel Guide

  • Dragonfruit and mangoes
    Dragonfruit and mangoes
    by pacific_sol
  • Scenic view
    Scenic view
    by kyoub
  • South point
    South point
    by kyoub

Hilo Highlights

  • Pro
    KiKitC profile photo

    KiKitC says…

     Great location, lots of history, great food 

  • Con
    shadowmon profile photo

    shadowmon says…

     not much nightlife 

  • In a nutshell
    triplehelix profile photo

    triplehelix says…

     Beautiful and peaceful place to live, wish there was more to do! 

Hilo Things to Do

  • Waterfalls

    I had previously visited Rainbow Falls during a trip to the Big Island many years ago. In 2013, my wife and I visited Hilo and took a local tour which brought us to Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is a large waterfall; about 80 feet high and 100 feet in diameter. The name Rainbow Falls comes from the Hawaiian word for the falls which is Waiânuenue ;...

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  • Helicopter Rides

    We went out on the pier to meet with our group. A black dude came into the terminal and weighed us on a scale. The rules said that if you were over 250 lbs that you would be charged extra. My grandson weighed 85 lbs - less than I had guessed (I guessed 100 lbs) and I was more than I had put down (but of course I'm usually weighing in the morning...

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  • Tropical Botanical Gardens

    This was our last stop on the way back to the ship after the afternoon tour. I enjoyed walking around and taking photos of the flowers. We really couldn't take any flowers back with is though so I just got some soap.

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  • Big Island Candies Factory

    On the afternoon tour, our driver Rob took us to a candy company where we could see candy being made and we bought some. I don't remember what we bought and we ate it before we got back to the ship. Their website says: Our ..original products – such as our Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies are world renown. All of our products are...

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  • Hula Festival

    Every year in April, Hilo becomes over run with hula fanatics from around the globe. Some cities honor potatoes, chili, raspberries, tofu, or even bull testicles. Hilo honors hula for a week. The competition pits various halau (hula schools) in a week long celebration in honor of former King Kalakaua. At the end of the competition, the winners are...

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  • Lili'uokalani Gardens

    On Banyan Drive, right next to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, there is a quanit Japanese garden, dedicated to Queen Lili'uokalani, who loved gardens. This offered a nice, short stroll from the hotel (about all I could stand in my condition). Unfortunately for us, it had rained more than usual, and much of the park was washed out, not allowing us to visit...

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Hilo Hotels

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Hilo Restaurants

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  • Modest little coffee shop

    I read somewhere that when a cruise ship is docked in the harbor, downtown Hilo can be overrun with hordes of "cruisers". Yet I would say that one of the things I most liked about Hilo was that it didn't seem like the kind of place that hordes of 'cruisers" would like. That's reflected at the Surf Break Café, which really has a local charm that...

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  • Asian delight

    Tasty Thai Resto in downtown Hilo, next to King David Kalakaua Square. I was able to park right in front of the restaurant. Nice atmosphere inside - I like the murals. The shrimp rolls were excellent: seasoned with Thai spices, rolled in rice wrappers and then fried. Served with pineapple dripping sauce. Yum!For my entrée, I had the grilled Ahi - a...

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  • On the Waterfront

    Handsome "old Hawaii" landmark on the waterfront in downtown Hilo. I read that the Café had been on the verge of closing, but an investor pumped some restoration money into the places and has been keeping the ceiling fans twirling for the last several years.Café Pesto is open fairly late, has a large menu, and exudes local charm, so it was a good...

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Hilo Nightlife

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  • Flipside too and Mina's

    My favourite pool/biker/drag queen bar. Never found anywhere like it on Earth. I was there in August 2004 and April 2008, when it was just about to be demolished to make way for a car park at Hilo market. Progress... bollocks. Sorry to see you go, and sorry I wasn't there for the last-night party.

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  • Moxie Music Bar

    100% Moxie, is the newest party spot in Hilo. After Flipside Too closed in 2008, the owners of Flipside Too, a mother and daughter team, searched for a new place to open. They found it and after a two year struggle with bureaucratic red tape opened their doors in 2010. There are two pool tables, and a great lunch/pupu's menu at really reasonable...

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  • Hilo Night Life

    As a former habitue of Flipside Too on Mamo Street in Hilo, I was really pleased when the new bar opened in April after a two year wait. It was a long time getting past all the bureaucratic hurdles and red tape, but now well worth the wait.100percentMoxie is Hilo Hawaii's newest night club/ party spot/ live music/ pool/ and good-food place to go....

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Hilo Transportation

  • Rent your own wheels

    We always book a car online before we leave home. We check all the rental companies and go with the best offer. It is important to rent ahead of your arrival especially during the holidays, there are not enough vehicles to meet the demand We leased a car and had to take a jeep instead. They called it an upgrade but at the price of gas on the...

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  • The Saddle Road.

    The Saddle Road. No doubt, one of my MOST favorite roads in my entire life, better than ANY road I've been on. Only thing that beats it is the Rock & Roll Rollercoaster at MGM in Orlando. Got it?! I bet it would be a BLAST on a motorcyle... With all those hills, you'd have to Lance Armstrong to do it on a Bike, but I bet someone COULD do it on a...

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  • Hilo International Airport and Heliport

    When we did the Blue Sky Helicopter tour, we did it out of the Hilo Airport. Known as General Lyman Field prior to 1989, Hilo International Airport occupies 1,391 acres about two miles east of Hilo, on the eastern shore of the island of Hawaii. The airport has a couple of shops, a newsstand, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. My grandson got himself...

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Hilo Shopping

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  • Grow Your Own

    We stopped on the way back from the Volcano National Park at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. Going to the gardens is free and they hope you will buy some of their products from the gift shop. They also sell through the internet and ship The gift shop features orchid and floral-related products and made-in-Hawaii gifts, including Akatsuka Original...

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  • Photo supplies

    Long's drug stores are located all over the islands.They have the usual things that you usually buy at a pharmacy and a whole lot more.We found that they had the best prices on nuts, candy, coffee, souvenirs, Kukui nut oil,plus they develope your film in 24 hrs. Most people don't use film these days but they also have good prices on batteries and...

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  • Books and a lot more

    This friendly shop has a lot of books, especially about Hawaii, as well as CDs, maps, cards and other articles. It is locally owned and managed - not a part of a big chain. Things you might buy at the big chain stores. But why not give your business to an independent store where it is really appreciated and gives personalized service.

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Hilo Local Customs

  • Hawaiian Shirts

    I don't think this picture has much to do with cultural tips, ha,ha.... But I liked it, and had to put it somewhere... ;-)) At least it is in the right City ;-)) .... We did stop at this store, in Hilo to do a bit of shopping.

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  • Kukui Necklaces

    The Kukui nut lei is made from the Kukui Nut Tree.The Kukui Nut Tree is also known as the Candlenut Tree and in ancient Hawai’i the nuts were burned to provide light and the oil also has many cooking and medicinal uses. The nuts are used also in necklaces (leis) and bracelets. The colors of the nuts can be black, brown or white and often painted...

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  • Kukui nut oil

    The Kukui nut tree is the official state tree of Hawaii.For centuries Hawaiians have used the oil from the Kukui nut tree to relieve and protect their skin from the salt water and drying winds on the islands. They are now making skin products for retail.

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Hilo Warnings and Dangers

  • Do Not Remove Lava Rocks!

    Yes, you want a souvenir of your vacation but do not remove any lava rocks. As superstition goes; removal of the rocks angers the volcano goddess Pele and brings bad luck to the person. So just go buy a souvenir from ABC..."Take only pictures; leave only footprints." "Take only gifts you are given (like flower lei’s); and leave only with Aloha."

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  • The Sun is Strong

    It's always important to be aware of the sun. Relaxing on a beautiful beach with a breeze can make you easily forget to check you skin for signs of a sunburn. We always slather on the sunblock; usually SPF 100 and make sure to re-apply requently. Liz and I both brings hats to ensure our faces do not fry in the sun.The best thing to do is avoid peak...

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  • Not a friendly place to vacation...

    After visiting this town many more times than I wished to on extended stays (my parents lived here for years) , I can truthfully state that this is not a friendly tourist town or full of friendly natives or any such nonsense. As a tourist , this is a stop-off point for visiting the terrific wonders of the volcano and nothing more. I think the best...

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Hilo Tourist Traps

  • Flying Tropical Helicopter of HI is...

    If you are thinking of using Tropical helicopter to see the lava or other parts of Hawaii think again.They are over priced and have very little concern for the community the fly over.There has been many complaints of them flying in cloudy weather that FHA rulesare against. This puts there passengers at risk of a head on crash with anotherhelicopter...

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  • Tropical Helicopter

    They promise low prices and show exciting volcano photos but good luck with both. The prices increase when you go to book and their flights don't go anywhere near the crater shown in their photos. Beware - these guys are immoral. Fly Blue Hawaiian. I've seen the photos and they actually deliver what they promise. Tropical Helicopters/Paradise...

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  • Ahalonai Warm Springs

    I know what constitutes a tourist trap is open to interpretation, but anyplace that greets you with signs saying no littering, no camping, no alcohol, no animals, no fishing, diving or jumping and then warns that you enter a disinfected pool at your own risk because you might get a bacterial infection and that the fish and eels may become...

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Hilo What to Pack

  • Bring a camera

    You're better off not bringing loads of clothing here as you'll probably be shopping for it anyway. The good news is, you need not bring cold weather gear as it's pretty comfortable weather wise. Unless you are traveling with family or staying long term, travel light in the luggage department. Shoes are a must, preferably tennis shoes if you're...

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  • Bring your binoculars!

    You will want a jacket and a rain poncho. Just because you are going to be in Hawaii doesn't mean that all days will be warm and sunny. You will have some rain also. Bring comfy shoes with good traction for hiking. You can find most things that you will need in Hilo so don't worry if you forget something.There is even a Wal-Mart there.

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  • Guide to Hilo Packing

    You're better off not bringing loads of clothing here as you'll probably be shopping for it anyway. The good news is, you need not bring cold weather gear as it's pretty comfortable weather wise. Unless you are traveling with family or staying long term, travel light in the luggage department. Shoes are a must, preferably tennis shoes if you're...

    more

Hilo Off The Beaten Path

  • Waterfalls

    * Akaka Falls Rd * Off Hwy 19, Honomu, HI 96728 * My first day on the Big Island, my friend Kawika took me to these amazing sheer pits of 'awe' known as 'Akaka Falls. A 442 foot tall waterfall descending down into a deep gorge as part of the Kolekole Stream. Located within 'Akaka Falls State Park just 11 miles north of Hilo at the end of Highway...

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  • Kilauea Lava Flow

    Flowing out of the active volcano Kîlauea on the Big Island, comes one of the world's most frequent outpouring of lava. Lava has been issuing continuously at Puʻu ʻÔʻô since January 1983. In 1998 Kîlauea was said to be the most active volcano on the Earth, whose volume of erupted material could pave a road across the world 3 times...

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  • Wai'opae (Kapaho) Tidepools

    The Wai 'Opae Tidepools is one of the hottest snorkeling areas near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. It resembles a barrier reef. Its a protected Marine Life conservation district. The southern half of the tide pools were placed into this district by a community initiative to protect this fragile ecosystem. Apparently the area was previously...

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Hilo Favorites

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  • Volcanoes

    Dominating the area are the volcanos and Volcano National Park is a must see for anyone visiting this area. It is constantly changing and there are so many fascinating aspects about it - seeing an active lava flow (after dark) is pretty special as is a walk inside the volcano crater. Thurston lava tube is another beautiful site with lush ferns...

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  • Waterfalls

    The many waterfalls... Rainbow falls, to Akaka falls, and many in between. The lush greenery in this area is spectacular. Makes you feel like you have just entered a different world. The natural lush green rainforests, and the beauty of the waterfalls, is spectactular.

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  • Churches

    Also known as the Haili Church, this was founded in the 1820s by the first group of Christian missionaries to operate on the big island. The current structure, built in 1867, was designed in the Greek Revival style, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's located at 211 Haili Street, a little ways up the hill from the Bay.

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Hawaiian Airlines
Transportation
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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
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Warnings and Dangers
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