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."
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 burn times that are from 11am-3pm. We usaully get ourselves some lunch, drinks and shopping during this time to avoid getting crispy.
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 way to visit the volcano is to go by cruiseship and take the included bustrip up to the volcano , then return back to the ship without staying over. That way you won't have your vacation ruined by the sour-faced locals that don't like you anyway or harrased by adolescent male thugs that have nothing better to do (as is attested to by other reviews within). I saw and experienced a considerable amount of predjudice against "howlies"(mainland caucasions) here over the years. Tip; If you are confronted and have dark hair , say you're a "Portugee" (thats o.k. by them -- why? don't know -- thats just the way it is). If you have light hair , just keep on walking (on the other side of the street). If you choose to go by car, I'd recommend planning your choice of sites to see beforehand to keep your time here to a minimum. If staying overnight , stay at a namebrand hotel in the safer (and more picturesque) area of Banyon Drive (but still beware -- you're not in friendly territory). If you do stay here and decide I'm wrong about all this , keep in mind that tourist oriented business's work hard to try (usually unsuccessfully) to get there employees to "act" friendly but be it known , this is just patronization. In truth , I've seen campaigns launched by the Hawaiian government trying to pursuade locals to be friendlier to tourists (tourism being Hawaii's biggest business). A safer (and friendlier) enviroment for tourist , is on the other side of the island (across the "Saddle Road") in Kona. Kona is more tourist oriented and better fits the typical vacationer's pre-conceived idea of "Hawaii" (besides , the suns shines here as opposed to the constant grey of Hilo).
Acting like a local will get your ass kicked if you say it to the wrong "Blalah" (big ass polynesian dude). Sadly, there are some who dislike others on their "aina" (land) and will call out anyone looking at them wrong. You shouldn't run into any of them unless you just happen to be walking down Four Miles Park. The main thing to remember is, be friendly and you'll get the same in return. Please, for your safety, don't be ignorant and mock anything cause these guys will make you wish you had chose another location to vacation in.
What am I scaring you for? It's not that bad lol, just don't make trouble with anyone and you'll be fine. You may get laughed at for wearing that funky getup though. You know what I mean, you have it in your summer closet... The Hawaiian shirt, fanny pack, knee high socks, cowboy hat, short shorts....
A'a or sharp edge lava rocks can cause your trip to go south. Common sense would tell you not to walk over these but hey, I'm in Hawaii what the hey! Many if not all of Hilo's beaches are not sandy. The Island is not old enough to have vast stretches of sand as erosion has not set in just yet. Though quite beaufitul, please watch your step when going into the water as sharp rocks are not your only concern. We also have Wana (Sea Urchins) which are poisonous. Stepping on one of these will cost you a trip to the hospital. It may not cause you death but it will ruin your vacation as you may not be able to walk for a while (unless you can handle the pain!). Wear protective gear when going into rocky areas, don't be brave.
Sea turtles are endangered and hefty fines for touching them.
There are seven species of sea turtles: green, flatback, hawksbill, loggerhead, Kemp's ridley, olive ridley, and leatherback.
I love to see them swimming wild, while I was in Mexico, I held baby sea turtles in my hand that were 10 days old.
NEVER leave a car unlocked - especially in tourist areas. Hilo is a depressed area and many thieves are on the lookout for rental cars that have cameras, gear, luggage, etc. Do not leave valuables in your car.
Warning.....The green turtles are a protected species and are not to be bothered.
It is illegal to touch them in any way.
Fines will be imposed for doing so.