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In fact, everyplace you visit in town and around the East side of the island is filled with friendly smiles and wonderful experiences to be had. Part of the Magic of living or visiting Hilo is to slow down and appreciate the simple things, daily occurrences, shopping at the farmers market, a walk around Liliuokalani gardens, smelling the amazing tropical flowers or just a lazy afternoon in an aqua colored lagoon.
This Hilo guide shares all the fun, cool and off the beaten path things to do in Hilo now. Wondering what to do in Hilo town? Start off in downtown Hilo in the historic district to walk around the Bayfront buildings, admire the architecture, cool shops, museums and some of the fun attractions in town and the surrounding areas of East Hawaii.
Just around town are cool parks, waterfalls, lava tubes, botanical gardens and even the Hilo zoo called Panaewa that also a tropical botanical garden to explore. The small downtown district of Hilo is basically two parallel streets with the main waterfront buildings facing Hilo Bay. One of the best things to do in Hilo freee is this fantastic walking tour of the historic architecture, parks and other attractions in town. So much color and art even on the building facades with beautiful murals and street art depicting local scenes, culture and Hawaiian traditions around the entire historic district.
Tip — while your walking around town, check out all the cool and colorful murals popping up unexpectedly around town. It makes for some fun Instagram spots around town to capture your visit down town. The art scene in Hilo is alive along with some of the fantastic historic museums to visit some of the history, culture and lifestyle of this unique city.
If you are into local arts, crafts and de on the island, check out the current exhibits and events at the Wailoa Art Center and the East Hawaii Cultural Center for more inspiration and and amazing art from the islands.
The top thing to do in Hilo and main attraction is visiting Rainbow falls just of Wainuenue avenue. Easy parking and short drive from the historic district, Rainbow falls is an iconic photo op and you can also climb up a set of stairs to see the falls from above and also walk into a forested area behind with one of the largest banyan groves on the island. If you are in the mood for a hike and viewing spectacular falls, check out Narnia Falls for something unique to visit above Hilo Town.
The caves are dank old, dark and mysterious for those that love visiting unusual, lush and unique attractions in any city. The caves are part of Kaumana Caves State Park with free parking and entrance on site. Developed from a lava flow in from Moana Loa, this lava tube is broken into two sections that you can explore on your own. Down a short flight of ladders and stairs le you through a lush canopy of vegetation into one of the main openings which is filled with boulders and an adventure to explore. Tip — be sure to bring a flashlight, sturdy shoes and maybe an umbrella if weather is changing in the park area.
There are picnic tables and restrooms at the park if you want to spend more time in the area. One of the fun things to do in Hilo is to visit the local farmers market. Make sure to sample some of the unique in season tropical fruits, a refreshing lilikoi ice drink, some mochi snacks or even more filling bento box treats for a bigger meal.
Wednesday and Saturdays are larger with vendors selling arts and crafts, souvenirs or other locally made goods for visitors looking to take some some treasures, t shirts or collectibles from the islands. Tip — there is a food court at the farmers markets with food trucks if you are looking for a bigger meal and local food to try from the area. Want to explore one In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do the fun things to do in Hilo on an island just off Hilo bay? A visit to Coconut island Moku Ola — meaning island of life is a must and easy to do crossing a short footbridge to the isolated island that used to be a spiritual place of refuge on the bay.
Considered a historic place of refuge in ancient times where villagers would swim to the island for refuge from committing a taboo or broken a rule that could easily be punished with immediate death. Now the island is geared towards recreation and picnics, little beaches to lounge in and jumping off the lava rock pillars that local In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do flock to for a free thrill jumping from above the rock tower into the cool aqua cove that is fun to do or just enjoy watching. Tip — a fantastic place for capturing pictures of Hilo Bay, historic downtown and views of neighboring Liliuokalani gardens and watching local kids jump off the popular lava tower into the small cove.
The beautiful Liliuokalani Gardens are a wonderful place to explore this expansive Japanese botanical garden with stunning views of Hilo Bay and town. The largest ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan, this almost 25 acre garden is named after Queen Liliuokalani who died the year the gardens were started.
The botanical park is also a tribute to all the Japanese immigrants that came to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations on the island. Featuring beautiful fish ponds, arched bridges and walking platforms over the ponds, Japanese inspired pagodas, lanterns and even an authentic tea house that offers a free tea service, you will almost be in Japanese visiting here.
This is one of the most unique things to do in Hilo with great views, fantastic history and a fun walk around the historic garden. Tip — walk the bride to nearby Coconut Island for a fun self tour of the island and lava tower that is a local favorite diving spot. One In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do the most unique things to do in Hilo is to visit this Victorian inspired bandstand on the waterfront area. The Mooheau Bandstand has a historic past and holds a variety of political rallies, music events, hula shows and other gatherings on a regular basis.
Hilo beaches are small with family friendly spots, coves, lagoons and unique beaches in town In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do the surrounding areas. Most of the large canoe regattas and sailing happens right on Hilo Bay. In town you can visit Coconut Island and Reeds Bay and just down the road area beautiful little beaches at Onekahakaha Beach, Carl Smith Beach and Richardson Beach where you can spot green sea turtles and colorful tropical fish hanging out just offshore. Carlsmith Beach — beautiful lagoons and islands to swim to. Reeds bay — shallow water and lagoons and family friendly downtown.
Coconut Island — small protected coves and gravel beaches with a tower you can jump from. Honolii Beach — a surfing, body boarding beach with mostly gravel beach. Richardson Ocean Park — A local popular beach with sandy and rocky inlets and lots of turtles. Standing proudly in the center of Wailoa State park is the statue of King Kamehameha the first king that united the Hawaiian islands. One of four statues made of the king, this one being the tallest at 14 feet, the statue was originally to be placed at a Princeville resort in Kauai.
But since Kauai was never conquered by Kamehameha, the statue was donated to the city of Hilo since it was one of his political centers of power on the island. Once a year on Kamehameha day, the statue is festooned with large gorgeous leis on his arm as a tribute to the king. Tip — cross the unique bridges that span the Wailoa River and check out the Wailoa Art Center which features ongoing Hawaii inspired art exhibits and artists from the island and neighbor islands.
Closed during covid, it has gone through renovations and is recently reopened for visitors to enjoy the zoo. What makes this zoo special is the rainforest botanical garden that is fun to explore with all the animals located in this tropical garden filled with orchids, bromeli, tropical rhododendrons, palm trees and various tropical plants and flowers that makes this a special place to explore.
There is also a family friendly kid petting zoo that is fun to explore with children in the park.
Tip — the gardens and parking is free to enjoy, but they do accept donations to keep the grounds operating. Take a nice easy road trip down the Hamakua coastline to visit the scenic botanical garden and dramatic Akaka Falls. Along the way is the sleepy but colorful town called Honomu which is worth a stop for snacks and curio shopping. But the star Akaka Falls which is one of the most majestic and scenic vistas with a botanical garden to explore with gorgeous bamboo, tropical flowers and lush vegetation.
On the way to Akaka Falls is the small town of Honomu which is fun to stop and try some local snacks, visit the shops and art galleries and support local businesses in the area. Just outside Hilo along the Hamakua coast is the scenic Onomea Bay with beautiful overlooking points and a short hike lovingly called Donkey trail down to the bay below. The walk is easy on paved trails down to various water areas and a small waterfall feature in the end or you can explore more of the botanical garden next door at Hawaii Tropical Botanical garden with all the extensive and lush tropical gardens located in this private estate.
Further down the Onomea scenic drive is a cool tropical smoothie hut where you can sample some of the best tropical smoothies on the island with fresh Hawaiian fruits in season. About forty minutes drive down Highway eleven le to Volcanoes National Park, the top attraction to visit in East Hawaii. The national park is alive with volcanic eruptions, steam clouds mixed with lava, earthquakes happen constantly making this an ever changing national park. You can base yourself in Volcano Village which has all the amenities you need and also lots of fun attractions to explore in the village.
Check out this post on visiting Volcanoes National Park now for more inspiration to seeing nature and the continual l ava eruptions at Volcanoes National Park at its most dramatic best in the park. Old Hawaii is alive along the red road, the scenic eastern loop road filled with beautiful tree tunnels, hidden beaches, roide and fruit stands. Starting from Pahoa towndriving here will give you a real taste of old Hawaii from Pahoa to Opihikao and even to the new In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do sand beach at Pohoiki that was created with the lava eruptions on the east side of Hawaii In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do in Along the way to the Red Road, make sure you check out the strange lava molds and botanical garden at Lava Tree State Parkthe beautiful and spooky MacKenzie State Parkand the gorgeous folk style interiors of the Painted Church in Kalapana.
Suisan Seafood Market — the food take out counter offers seafood, sushi and poke rice bowls that are so delicious and to die for. Amazing bar service and really delicious dishes makes this an amazing dining venue in Hilo. Jackie Reys — a stunning bar area and dining spot with classic Hawaiian style dishes in an upscale location.
The food is beautifully presented and quite delicious with Hawaiian inspired dishes. Cafe Pesto — a local favorite Hilo institution with delicious food, yummy pupu appetizers and delicious drinks makes this a popular venue to enjoy on the Bayfront area. Grand Naniloa Double Tree — A fantastic location on Banyan drive with bay and ocean views and comfortable modern rooms and amenities. Includes free wifi and 9 hole golf course across from the property.
Hilo Seaside Hotel — located on Banyan drive with easy access to beach, attractions and parks. Comfortable and spacious rooms, nice public areas and a wonderful and friendly staff, restaurant and services. Hilo Bay Ocean Front Bed and Breakfast — Beautiful accommodations and location right on the bay in this classic Hawaiiana home with excellent service, strong wifi and a full Hawaiian breakfast.
Check out these top reviewed hotels on Trip Advisor here for more details, availabiity and prices.
Must visit Big Island Waterfalls. Free of cheap things to do on the Big Island. Check out the Top things to do in Kona and the west side of the island. A family friendly visit to the Big Island — a guide to family adventure and activities on the island. Kona snorkel and cruise experience along the gorgeous Kona coast to the Red Cliffs area in South Kona. A visit to the beautiful Kua Bay and beach area. A gorgeous hike and beach time at Makalawena Beach.
Stay in Hilo as your base and enjoy some of the fun things to do in Hilo to be easy and fun in this small town that is uniquely Hawaiian and full of In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do. Thanks for checking out this post on Top things to do in Hilo right now. Hope the post was informative and a must read article — if so please do share it with any In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do the social media buttons around the. Disclosure — this post on Top things to do in Hilo now may have affiliate related links to brand offers which helps our site keep operating — we appreciate any purchases through this link and your supporting This Hawaii Life.
Here you go again. Delivering us so many amazing options that we are wondering how we could fit it all in during one vacation to Hilo. I guess we would just have to prioritize to make sure we got the waterfalls in first. Yes I think you would enjoy visiting Hilo and all the top things to do here and in the rest of the Big Island. I love those waterfalls!
I love Hawaii so much and love discovering new things to do. The cave park sounds like a must-see for the next visit. Mahalo, Noel. Slowing down, appreciating, farmers markets, hikes…. Thanks for introducing me to this part of the island! Save my name,and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Submit Comment. Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation.
Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life. Facebook Twitter RSS. Fun and cool things to do in Hilo town and some other unusual places to explore Wondering what are the fun top things to do in Hilo town now? Why visit and stay in Hilo and East Hawaii? Table of Contents. We love shares - Mahalo!
Karen Warren on February 25, at am. You would enjoy visiting Hilo and seeing all the top things to do in Hilo now when you visit. Elaine Masters on February 22, at pm. Anne musicandmarkets on February 22, at am. Thank you and hope you get to visit Hilo and experience some of these joys of visiting Hawaii.
From Volcano village Whittington is While visiting Hawaii island, make sure to explore the east side and Hilo attractions….In Hilo1 Hawaii looking for something to do
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