15 Best Things To Do in Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo is popularly known as the “Big Island”. It is located on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii. It is a tropical rainforest region and has a significant tourism sector which has a deep impact on their economy. Hilo offers amazing natural beauty locations including the waterfall, rainforest, beaches and peaceful gardens. Hilo will give you ample opportunities to explore outdoor activities. It is an ideal destination for couples, family, and adventurers here is the list of best places to visit in Hilo so as to make your journey memorable.

Let's explore Hilo points of interest and 15 best things to do in Hilo:

1. The famous Akaka Falls

Akaka falls, Hilo  - ImageImage source: wikimedia.org

It is a pleasure watching the 422 ft tall waterfall. It is located close to Hilo. It is one of the most picturesque places to photograph. A walk through the Akaka Falls State Park is amazing with only greenery all around filled with bamboo groves and wild orchids. The state park is well directed and mostly, visitors love to hike at the park and enjoy the fresh air and cool breeze.

2. Shop at Hilo Farmer’s Market

It is an open market in the downtown Hilo and known as the best farmer’s market in Hawaii. More than 200 vendors gather there to sell fresh sea fish, fresh produce vegetables and fruits, tropical flowers, craft and jewelry etc at an affordable rate. Locals earn their livelihood through this market and visitors come to buy their unique organic products. The market is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 6 am to 4 pm.

3. A tour at Hilo’s Japanese garden

Hilo’s Liliuokalani Garden is the largest Japanese garden in Hawaii, located on the banyan drive along the Hilo Bay. The garden is constructed beautifully with arching bridges over fish ponds, rock gardens, stone path, and lanterns. It was created in the early 1900s. It has clear water and green plants. A place where you can spend hours relaxing and is an excellent venue for picnics. There is also a traditional Japanese teahouse named Shoroan. People often conduct events here too.

4. A must tour in Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens

The Rainforest was opened in 1978 and is the only natural tropical forest zoo in the  USA. This is home to over 80 animal species and to some endangered Hawaiian animals like spider monkeys, lemurs, Nene geese. This zoo is one of the major attractions in Hawaii. This is also a botanical garden which reserves 100 varieties of flora and palm trees which you won’t get to see anywhere. It offers a great experience walking around the park and with the lush green surrounding.

5. Plan for the most beautiful Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive

The Hamakua Coast offers one of the most beautiful stretches of scenic beauty on the island and is located north of Hilo. The drive from Hilo to Waipio Valley is breathtaking. You will see numerous waterfalls, thick tropical foliage, exotic plants. The view is the most scenic. Also, along the way you can go along the Pepe’ekeo scenic drive which is highway 19. Passing through waterfalls, crossing jungles far from the city of traffic it literally gives you a thrill. There are many other spots this road drive will provide you so it is highly recommended not to give it a miss. Just hire a car and go along with nature.

6. See the beautiful flowers in Nani Mau Garden

The Nani Mau garden was first opened in Hawaii in 1972 and it is located just 3 miles from Hilo. This is another Japanese garden founded by a Japanese immigrant named Makato Nitahara. it is a beautiful tropical garden that displays gorgeous orchids, rare palm and many more. You can come here for an evening walk.

7. Visit Hilo’s another iconic waterfall

Tourist attractions in HiloImage source: flickr.com

The gorgeous Rainbow Fall is a quick drive from the downtown. It has a modest height of 80ft and runs along the Wailuku River. It is a popular tourist spot with visitors coming here mainly because it is easily accessible from the city. The trail is beautiful with diverse greenery all around. Early morning visit would be the time of the day.

8. Biking on the Big Island

Biking on the Big Island is considered as the most adventurous outdoor activity. It can be really fun and exciting too. Visitors can experience the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by biking but one should be very cautious. Visitors can simply hire a rental bike and they can ride the roads to where ever they want to explore the natural wonder of the earth. It is suggested to take a proper map or a professional guide with you. He can take you through some amazing terrain. One can experience topographies from dynamic lava landscape to  rainforest. 

9. Enjoy a Helicopter Tour and get to see the beautiful island 

If you want to see something unusual and different then take a helicopter tour of the Island. There are some places which are nearly impossible to reach but that shouldn’t be an obstruction to see the world’s beautiful places. There are many tour companies  in the city that provide you a helicopter tour service. If your wallet allows you to spend some cash then it is good because helicopter tour is a bit expensive but this will definitely bring you an unforgettable moment despite its high price.

10. Enjoy Hiking in Hilo 

Hiking in Hilo is adventurous and a wild experience. It gives hikers plenty of places to hike and a is paradise for outdoor activities. Climate differs as the place is a coastal zone and rainforest but if a hiker is fit and skillful then that shouldn’t stop him to explore. A hiker always sees more hidden and beautiful places on the earth. The Akaka State Park, Kalopa State Park, Mauna Kea are some of the best hiking places. There are also some for the beginner hikers like Waipi’o Valley hike, Pololu Valley hike, Hawaii Botanical garden are the few. The best is to hire a guide or join a hiker group.

11. A visit to Wailuku River State Park in Hilo

Located not very far from the downtown Hilo. It is a 16-acre park, set along the Wailuku river in Hawaii. Rainbows are more often visitors can see a blend of mist and sunlight. Hikers can hike this park. Flash flood is dangerous here as the river water rises quickly and causes flood. The Wailuku River State Park is worth to spare some time.

12. Get yourself ready for surfing in the Ocean

Hilo offers the best of surfing for all levels.The waves are the best for surfing activity in the Big Island. The island is large so there are particular spots that are meant for surfing sport. If you are beginner then there are surfing schools that offer surfing lessons. You can always rent a surfboard and enjoy either swimming or surfing in the big waves. 

13. Enjoy the Best Scenic Drive on the Island

Hilo offers endless beautiful scenic drives that will make one crazy for the view that it offers. The island boasts a series of iconic scenic roads. The road to Maui is most famous and beautiful drive, moving through the curvy highways passing cliffs with waterfalls and tropical rainforest is just beyond any words. There is another Kapoho Kalapana Road, close to Hilo and passes by a few beach parks. Also, Chain of Crater Road is impossible to miss. It is a two and half hour of scenic round trip. The road will take you to the lava covered flanks of the Kilauea volcano. A single trip will make your memory worth.

14. Try Hawaii Cuisine

Try traditional Hawaiian cuisine like Kalua pork, Chicken Long Rice, Poi, Lomi Lomi Salmon. These are few authentic Hawaiian meals. A visitor must also try their local food ‘Manapua’. At any Hawaiian restaurant, you will get this delicious and delectable food.  Restaurants of other cuisines are also widely available on the island. So, the visitor won’t face any problem even if they don’t want to try Hawaiian cuisine.

15. Lava Viewing tour

The Big Island is the favorite place for lava viewing spot. Tours are offered for lava viewing within the Hawaii Volcano National Park for lava biking and hiking tour. The Kilauea Volcano is the only active volcano in Hawaii which is the most  attractive spot. Join a group and go with a professional guide. There is also Lava boat tour which departs from the Isaac Hale Beach Park. Don’t give it a miss.

Author: Revati Tamboli
Raised in an unconventional and feminist family, Revati believes in hope and love more than anything else in the world. She was still waiting for her Hogwarts letter or a spider to bite her while pursuing engineering, so that she could become a wizar...

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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hilo, Hawaii

Must see places in Hilo ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Hilo and point of interests to visit.

  1. Liliuokalani Park And Gardens

    # 1 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 405 times in trip plans
    Liliuokalani Park And Gardens

    Tags: Garden, Park, Nature

    Address: 189 Lihiwai St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Named after Queen Liliuokalani, one of Hawaii's last reigning monarchs, these gardens will take you to Japan. The highlight of the 30 acres’ garden was built in early 1900s, is the Japanese gard...Read more

  2. Richardson Beach Park

    # 2 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 453 times in trip plans
    Richardson Beach Park

    Tags: Beach, Park, Entertainment, Water Sport

    Address: 2349 Kalanianaole Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 07:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    The only black sand beach in all of Hilo, Richardson Beach Park is a great place to have some fun in the water. The natural seawalls create tide pools and keep the water calm, making it perfect for ev...Read more

  3. Coconut Island

    # 3 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 449 times in trip plans
    Coconut Island

    Tags: Island, Nature

    Address: Hilo, HI 96720, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Located in Hilo Bay, this small island can be accessed only via a pedestrian footbridge from Liliuokalani Gardens. Its Hawaiian name Moku Ola means “Island of Life”, since the waters of th...Read more

  4. Pepeekeo Scenic Drive

    # 4 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 335 times in trip plans
    Pepeekeo Scenic Drive

    Tags: View Point, Scenic Drive

    Address: Hawaii 96783, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    At about 5 to 8 miles north of Hilo, one of the most picturesque routes on Big Island, the Pepeekeo Scenic Drive is not to be missed. Stretching over 4 miles, this drive is a part of the old mamalahoa...Read more

  5. Kaumana Caves Co Park

    # 5 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 764 times in trip plans
    Kaumana Caves Co Park

    Tags: Cave, Park

    Address: Mile Marker 4-5 Kaumana Dr, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    The main highlight of this park is the lave tube formed by the lava flow from Mauna Loa in 1881. The Kaumana Caves are a part of the 25-mile-long lava tube that runs through Big Island. There is a fli...Read more

  6. Hilo Tropical Gardens

    # 6 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 217 times in trip plans
    Hilo Tropical Gardens

    Tags: Garden, Nature

    Address: 1477 Kalanianaole Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Known as the “Garden in a Valley on the Ocean”, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens has been attracting photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists and nature lovers from all across ...Read more

  7. Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

    # 7 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 505 times in trip plans
    Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

    Tags: Zoo, Nature, Bird Watching

    Address: 800 Stainback Hwy, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 04:00 pm Details

    The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Garden is one-of-a-kind in every way. The 12 acres’ large zoo is the only one in the whole of United States that is located inside in a rainforest. There are more...Read more

  8. Lyman House Memorial Museum

    # 8 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 205 times in trip plans
    Lyman House Memorial Museum

    Tags: Museum, Specialty Museum

    Address: 276 Haili St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 04:30 pm Details

    Originally built as a Mission House, by New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman, the museum was built by their descendants a century later. The exhibits of the museum aim at showcasing the true...Read more

  9. Mauna Loa Observatory

    # 9 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 419 times in trip plans
    Mauna Loa Observatory

    Tags: Observatory

    Address: 1437 Kilauea Ave #102, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    A part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory and Global Monitoring Division, the Mauna Loa Observatory is a leading facility that has been continuously m...Read more

  10. Mauna Kea State Park

    # 10 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 148 times in trip plans
    Mauna Kea State Park

    Tags: Park

    Address: Waimea, HI 96743, United States

    Timings: 05:55 am - 05:55 pm Details

    This 20.5 acres’ large state park is a protected are in the state of Hawaii. The shrub land, at a height of 6500 feet, gives a spectacular view of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It is a popular sp...Read more

  11. Honoli'i Beach Park

    # 11 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 210 times in trip plans
    Honoli'i Beach Park

    Tags: Beach, Park, Picnic Spot

    Address: 180 Kahoa St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Just north of the Hilo Bay, lies the most popular surf beach in all of east Big Island. The beach is located in a secluded area, with grassy land and picnic tables for picnickers to just stretch out l...Read more

  12. Rainbow Falls Park

    # 12 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 265 times in trip plans
    Rainbow Falls Park

    Tags: Park, Waterfall, Hiking Trail, Nature

    Address: Hilo, HI, USA

    Timings: 06:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Along the lower reach of the longest river in the Island of Hawai'i, the Wailuku River, lies a scenic state park with two of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hilo and a stunning hiking trail. The firs...Read more

  13. St. Joseph Catholic Church

    # 13 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 207 times in trip plans
    St. Joseph Catholic Church

    Tags: Church, Religious Site

    Address: 43 Kapiolani St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 06:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    This beautiful old church provides you with a blend of spirituality and fun. Visitors will feel completely at home with the parishioners, who welcome them with shell leis. The location of the church i...Read more

  14. Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery

    # 14 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 183 times in trip plans
    Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery

    Tags: Art Gallery, Tour, Photo Gallery, Workshop

    Address: 224 Kamehameha Ave #103, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    Owned by two of Hawai'i Island's most renowned photographers, Bruce Onroi and Tom Kualii, the Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery is their tribute to their home. Known for going to extremes to capture b...Read more

  15. Pu'u 'o'o Trail

    # 15 of 309 Things To Do in Hilo | Added 219 times in trip plans
    Pu'u 'o'o Trail

    Tags: Trail, Hiking Trail, Adventure, Nature

    Address: Hilo, HI, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    A part of the Na Ala Hele trail system, the Pu'u 'O'oTraail goes through all those areas in the old-growth forest that has been spared by the lava flows from the Mauna Loa. During older times, this tr...Read more

Find Your Hilo Attractions on Map

Find more places to see in Hilo

  • Waiakea Mission Station - Hilo Station

    211 Haili St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Rev. D. B. Lyman House

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • W. H. Shipman House

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Hilo Masonic Lodge Hall - Bishop Trust Building

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Volcano Block Building

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • A. J. Williamson House

    Historic and Protected Sites
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  • Lokowaka Pond

  • Waiakea Fishpond

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  • Pacific Tsunami Museum

    130 Kamehameha Ave

  • Lyman Museum

    276 Haili St

  • Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii

    600 Imiloa Pl

  • Mokupapapa Discovery Center

    308 Kamehameha Ave

  • Mauna Loa Observatory

    154 Waianuenue Ave

  • Hawaii Plantation Museum

    27-246 Old Mamalahoa Hwy

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  • Tilt 156

    111 E Puainako St

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Fun Factory

    315 E Makaala St

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Winnerz Zone

    511 W Kawailani St

    Amusement Parks Bars
  • Fun Factory

    Waiakea Center

    Amusement Parks
  • Triple 7

    511 W Kawailani St

    Amusement Parks Arcades
  • Capt Beans' Cruises

    Kaloko Light

    Amusement Parks
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  • Hilo Town Tavern

    168 Keawe St

    Bars American
  • Waioli Lounge

    71 Banyan Dr

    Restaurants Bars Cafes, Coffee and Tea Houses
  • Hale Hookah

    60 Waianuenue Ave

    Bars Restaurants
  • Margarita Village

    11 Silva St

    Barbecue Bars
  • Joann's Lounge

    88 Kanoelehua Ave

    Bars Karaoke Restaurants
  • Aunty Yong's Place

    688 Kinoole St

    Bars Korean
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  • Rainbow Falls

    40 Rainbow Dr

    Natural Parks
  • Akaka Falls State Park

    Natural Parks
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  • Onekahakaha Beach Park

    1409 Kalanianaole Ave

  • Richardson Beach Park

    2349 Kalanianaole Ave

  • Greensands Beach

  • Puhi Bay

  • Lalakea Beach

  • Breakwall

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  • Pu'u 'O'o Trail

  • Onomea Cattle Co.

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  • S Tokunaga Store

    26 Hoku St

    Hunting and Fishing
  • Capt Chip Fischer

    Hunting and Fishing
  • Illusions Sportfishing Chrtrs

    Hunting and Fishing
  • M.L. Macadamia Orchards

    Hunting and Fishing
  • Dino's Fishing Tackle

    811 Laukapu St

    Hunting and Fishing
  • Brads Reef Rippers

    Hunting and Fishing
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  • Merrie Monarch Festival

    350 Kalanikoa St

    Music and Show Venues Stadiums and Arenas
  • Francis Wong Stadium

    323 Manono St

    Stadiums and Arenas
  • Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

    799 Piilani St

    Stadiums and Arenas Music and Show Venues
  • Merrie Monarch Festival

    93 Banyan Dr

    Music and Show Venues Stadiums and Arenas
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What To Do in Hilo: Day-Wise Ideas

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