Hilo., Hawaii (Big Island)
Hilo’s rep for rain is a little exaggerated, since most of the rain falls at night, gently on the roof, lulling you to sleep. We have our share of spectacular weather, and when such a day comes during the week, I take my dogs for a dish of Tahitian Vanilla at nearby Hilo Homemade Ice Cream (1477 Kalanianaole Avenue), and then for a crab-hunt among the rocks at Richardson Ocean Park, while I watch and lounge on the little shaded black sand beach. As a bonus, we all love the multiple clear tidal pools here and at the neighboring beach parks. They’re very pretty, crystal-clear, and offer safe wading/swimming on high-surf days. If you love this area as we do, there are a number of vacation rentals located steps from the ocean: http://www.hilokonabeachrentals.com/
This is not a place that read in travel books about, although it is mentioned in a few, but it is elegant, romantic, and special and you could spend a few minutes there enjoying the atmosphere.
The garden is very small but very picturesque with stone bridges, pagoda-like porches, fish ponds and mini-gardens situated on top of lava rock.
Just a short walk from there there’s the Coconut Island, another charming corner of downtown Hilo and if you look across the bay the picture you’ll see will remind you Germany, believe it or not. From the moment I glanced at it I felt like I’m in the Mozel Valley again.
I took a lot of pictures in this park and two of them came out especially nice. Later, I photoshopped them into a painting, enlarged and put on canvas. They now proudly decorate my walls at home.
We went on an hour helicopter ride with paradise helicopters and took the Doors Off Experience Hilo's Fire & Falls Adventure that was 45-50 minutes. Paradise Helicopters were the only ones that allowed the doors to be off therefore the doors off tour is more expensive. Looking at the price it looks like its about the same which is $232 per person. I think we paid like $199pp when we were there. There are many diffrent types of tours you could take. If I could do it again I would do the full island tour.
It took us over the Puu Oo Vent were the lava was spewing which is the only way to see it, that also took us over the town of Hilo, a macadamian nut farm, and towards the end a waterfall. It had spectacular views however the waterfall was a waste of time. You could go one of two ways, with the doors on or with the doors off. We decided to go with the doors off and for the first 20 minutes I was ascared everytime we hit turbulence however it offered the best unobstucted views of the landscape below. We could feel the heat that was radiating from the ground. The helicopter pilot had been doing it for 40 something years and I figured it was not his day to die and he had the experience so I would be ok. He took us over the mountain that had all the steam coming out from it and took us along the river bed and showed us where the lava is burning all the trees. We could of also opted to take a full island trip or the trip to see the northern part of the island that has the sea cliffs but we wanted to see the lava. Now I wish we would of taken the full island trip that takes you to see everything but of course it would of costed more. If you wanted to go back around and see anything you could ask him too over the radio headset. The helicopter took 4 of us and gave every person many opportunities on each side to take pictures. The people sitting in the back had the doors on so we sat up in front with the pilot. The middle seat is very small however so it may be uncomfy. It is also hard to hear at times.
One thing you must bring with you is a camera of course another thing that you will need is a jacket. Belive it or not it is really cold not only that when you go up in the clouds you get sprinkles of water on you and condensation on the lens. I kept having to wipe it off. Your hair is also going to get very messy from the wind. Even in the parts where it was clear weather it was cold.
We booked in adavance to save some money. We did not have to pay till we got there though. I think cancellation is 24hrs in advance. If you do enough research you will find many places that offer helicopter rides or airplane rides and figure out which one is best for what you need to do and what is in your budget.
The pilot works for tips since he only makes minimum wage, which we did not know and paid for the flight when we got there with credit card but no cash on us so he never got a tip from us and I felt pretty bad because of this. So he does take tips.
You also have to pay to park but it is really cheap compared to the main land.
This place has so many things to do. Festivals, farmers markets, great restaurants, arts and crafts, shopping. I wish we would of stayed on this side of the island as it just had more things to do. You have definatley got to try the restaurants hilo has to offer and also the ice cream. Also in hilo you can find many helicopters to take you around the island. There is also many parks that you can spend the day in relaxing and it seems to be close to alot of the main attractions like the volcano national park, major waterfall and so on.
This was a nice park with Japanese gardens, pagodas and lanterns not to mention lush landscapes and ponds fill with fish. The park is a pretty descent size of 24 acres. Apparently it is supposed to be the biggest Edo gardenoutside of Japan. We saw some people fishing in the ponds and a lot of people sitting down with there lunch. It is a nice place to stroll threw or even watch the sunset or sunrise depending on which time of year it it. The trees provided plenty of shade and the park was located right next to the ocean. So if you want to grab something to eat and picnic I would say this would be the best park to go to.
The best thing is it is FREEEEEE
Hilo has a historic town flavor to it, even though its on an island that has only seen 200 years of western settlement. It's worth wandering around the towntown constructed of pre-War buildings, enjoying the slow pace of life and checking out the Tsunami Museum, whose focus is on the Tsunami Hilo suffered in the 1930's -- not on Tsunamis in general (those looking for information on the massive 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami will be disapporinted). Hilo also has a number od Starbucks Coffee shops, to get you hyped for the rest of your visit. If you are planning on visiting Volcano National Park, you willl be flying into Hilo.
One of my favorite memories of my early visits to Hawaii occurred in Hilo. In 1994, I was traveling with two female co-workers and we went into an unnamed, probably extinct bar where ethnic Koreans in their 60's were swing dancing. As there seemed to be nowhere else to go that night and the dancing was entertaining, we decided to have a mai tai and watch. Soon, 60-year-old men were coming up to me, asking me permission to dance with my harem. Of course, I said, yes and the women had a great time stepping around the high-ceilinged dance floor with their light-footed partners. It was a blast.
Hilo is the island's biggest city but is as untouristy as you get on the island. Tourist prefer Kona and the east coast rather than the wetter west coast which Hilo is on. Despite this Hilo has quite a few musuems and other attractions.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, north of Hilo, features so many species of palm trees, ferns, orchids, bananas, bamboo, and other tropical plants that you will be amazed. Who knew there were so many kinds of ginger?
The trails take you past gardens of all sorts of tropical plants, and also offer views of Onomea Falls and the Pacific Ocean. Of course, given the different climate between the rain-ward Hilo side and the dry Kona side of the island, plant species are very different here. Interestingly, the species of turtles and fish are also different. There's so much to see and so much to learn. They'll even loan you an umbrella if it rains (as it often does)!
Across the street from the hotel we stayed in, the Hilo Hawaiian, is a gorgeous Japanese garden in Hilo's Lili'uokalani Gardens, named for the Hawaiian monarch Queen Lili'uokalani.
The ornamental Japanese park was built to honor Japanese immigrants. The Yedo-type gardens are planned around the serene Waihonu Pond in the center, with charming footbridges and gazebos, weeping willow trees, azaleas by the score, bamboo glades, and acres of manicured green grass. It is always open and very easy to walk around for children and adults of all ages.
Hilo is a quaint rural city surrounded by rainforests on the island's eastern coast. Hilo, the state of Hawaii's fourth largest city, is a colourful port town that lies along a lovely crescent bay. When the coast is clear, you can often see snow-capped Mauna Kea.
There is a wonderful scent of ginger blossoms in the air that bloom in abundance in the Liliu'okalani Gardens which wind along Banyan Drive. It features Japanese-style gardens with fishponds, torii gates, oriental bridges, pavilions, pagodas, sprawling banyans, and a ceremonial teahouse.
Because these are very exotic, sunny and very romantic locations. Bring your beer and sweet heart with you.