What to do in Hilo? The “non-touristy” side of the island in Hilo, where it rains a lot, but that’s what makes it so green and beautiful. Hilo is home to the rainforests and waterfalls, and it’s also a terrific spot to stay if you’re seeking a more convenient basecamp for touring Hawaii Volcano National Park and the famed colored sand beaches. Here are 25 things to do in Hilo Hawaii, as well as ideas for where to stay and the top restaurants, whether you’re spending part of your trip there or simply driving over for the day.
Activities and places to visit in Hilo
Take a helicopter tour
The most popular helicopter excursions on the Big Island leave from Hilo and include a flyover over the volcano (the best way to watch the lava flow!) followed by a tour of the jungle and waterfalls before returning to Hilo. This flight with Blue Hawaiian is my favorite.
- Address: 68-690 Waikoloa Rd, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738, US
- Opening Hours: 7:00am – 7:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-961-5600
Waipio Valley is among the most beautiful places on the Big Island, lush and tropical. There’s a picturesque overlook, or you can take the SUPER STEEP climb down into the valley if you’re feeling adventurous. Unless you’re on a guided tour, there’s not much to see at the bottom (mainly private land). This tour combines Waipio Valley with some of the island’s top waterfalls, and I highly suggest it.
- Address: 48-5561A Waipio Valley Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727, US
- Opening Hours: all-day
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Zipline over a waterfall
This is the place to go if ziplining through the jungle and viewing endless waterfalls is on your bucket list. Make a reservation for this adventure, which includes zip lining above KoleKole Falls.
- Address: 28-1692 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Honomu, HI 96728, US
- Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-963-6353
Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive
The gorgeous path down the island’s north shore has to be one of the most beautiful drives in Hawaii. Take the north coast route on the way over and then the more direct Saddle Road on the way back if you’re staying on the Kona side of the island and driving over to Hilo (or Volcano) for the day.
- More information: Hamakua Coast
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Akaka FallsFor another adventure:Akaka Falls
The most renowned waterfall in Hawaii is located around 11 miles north of Hilo. It’s nearly 400 feet tall and just a half-mile stroll through beautiful jungle to get there. Vehicles must pay a $5 admission charge.
- Address: 875 Akaka Falls Rd, Honomu, HI 96728, US
- Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-961-9540
This 80-foot waterfall, located in Hilo town, has a circumference of about 100 feet and is best seen early in the morning when you have the best opportunity of viewing a rainbow.
- Address: Hilo, Hawaii 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm
- Contact Number: 719-520-7529
Richardson Beach Park
While the Hilo side of the island lacks numerous beaches, Richardson’s is your best chance for swimming and snorkeling. Although it is a black sand beach, there are little particles of green (olivine) in it.
- Address: 2355 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 7:30am – 7:30pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-961-8688
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Carlsmith Beach Park
Although there is no sand (although there is a wonderful grassy lawn to relax on), the lava rocks and reef form a nice tiny sheltered swimming spot that is ideal for snorkeling.
- Address: 1815 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 7:00am – 8:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-961-8311
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
These botanical gardens, located 7 miles north of Hilo, are often regarded as the most beautiful in Hawaii, and their proximity to the coast provides a breathtaking vista. The orchids are a must-see! Adult admission is $20.
- Address: 27-717 Mamalahoa Hwy, Papaikou, HI 96781, US
- Opening Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-964-5233
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Liliuokalani Park and Garden
This gorgeous garden, which is open to the public and is the biggest true decorative Japanese garden outside of Japan, is free to see.
- Address: 189 Lihiwai St #151, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 5:45am – 7:30pm
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Botanical Garden
This little zoo is the only one in the United States that is situated in a rainforest. The zoo is free to enter and may be easily toured in an hour or two.
- Address: 800 Stainback Hwy, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 10:00am – 3:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-959-9233
Hilo Farmers Market
This outdoor market with over 200 local farmers and sellers is a must-see if you’re in Hilo on a Wednesday or Saturday.
- Address: Corner of Kamehameha Avenue and, Mamo St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 7:00am – 3:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-933-1000
Pacific Tsunami Museum
The modest museum dedicated to the Hilo tsunamis of 1946 and 1960 is well worth an hour or two of your time.
- Address: 130 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-935-0926
Historic Palace Theater
The Palace Theater, first opened in 1925, shows independent films and often holds concerts and other events.
- Address: 38 Haili St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Contact Number: +1 808-934-7010
Lyman Museum and Mission House
The Lyman Museum, which is linked with the Smithsonian, is a world-class museum dedicated to the Hawaiian people’s history and culture. The mission home next door was erected in the 1830s, and admission to the museum ($10) provides entrance to it.
- Address: 276 Haili St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 10:00am – 4:30pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-935-5021
Imiloa Astronomy Center
Mauna Kea is home to the world’s biggest array of astronomical observatories, a testament to the ancient Hawaiian culture’s connection to astronomy. At the center, there are educational and cultural exhibitions as well as a planetarium. The cost of admission is $17.50.
- Address: 276 Haili St, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
- Contact Number: +1 808-932-8901
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Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center
The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm and Factory are located a few miles south of Hilo. Take a self-guided tour, try several nuts, and get some of your favorites!
- Address: Macadamia Nut Rd, Hilo, HI 96720, US
- Contact Number: +1 888-628-6256
Hotels in Hilo
Online hotel bookings in Hilo, United States may save you a lot of money. There’s a lot of room and the fees are reasonable. Reading hotel reviews will help you choose the greatest hotel price for your stay. There are some recommendation below to help you find the most suitable one.
Grand Naniloa Hotel
The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo is a luxurious hotel located in Hilo, Hawaii. It offers stunning views of Hilo Bay and is surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The hotel features a range of amenities, including a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. The guest rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with modern furnishings and private balconies. The hotel is also conveniently located near many of Hilo’s top attractions, such as the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo is an excellent choice for accommodations in Hilo.
- Address: 93 Banyan Dr, Hilo, HI 96720
- Contact Number: +1 808-969-3333
- Price: ~276,04/night
Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
The Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is a beautiful hotel located in Hilo, Hawaii. It offers a range of accommodations, including standard rooms, suites, and cottages. The hotel features a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. The guest rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with modern furnishings and private balconies. The hotel is also conveniently located near many of Hilo’s top attractions, such as the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation. The Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is a great choice for travelers looking for a comfortable and luxurious stay in Hilo.
- Address: 71 Banyan Dr, Hilo, HI 96720
- Contact Number: +1 808-935-9361
- Price: ~230,17/night
SCP Hilo Hotel
The SCP Hilo Hotel is a modern and stylish hotel located in Hilo, Hawaii. It offers a range of amenities, including a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. The guest rooms are well-appointed and feature modern furnishings and private balconies, offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Address: 126 Banyan Way, Hilo, HI 96720
- Contact Number: +1 808-935-0821
- Price: ~231,35/night
Best restaurants in Hilo
Ken’s Pancake House: A Hilo staple, Ken’s Pancake House provides breakfast all day (macadamia nut pancakes are to die for!). They have a full supper menu as well as local favorites, but go for breakfast!
Make reservations at Moon and Turtle: if you’re a foodie looking for something a little more trendy and less old school. It’s a small (but extremely popular) Asian/Hawaiian fusion restaurant that’s likely near the top of the list of “don’t miss Hilo eateries.”
Two Ladies Kitchen: If there’s one “must do” gourmet visit in Hilo, it’s this Japanese patisserie, which is famous for its strawberry mocha. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday are closed.
Suisan Fish Market: is Hilo’s top poke joint. It’s sold by the pound with rice at the counter. There are some tables and chairs outside, but Liliuokalani Park is only over the street. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sweet Cane Café: A vegetarian restaurant worth visiting if you’re looking for something different. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Café 100: This walk-up establishment serves Hilo’s most famous loco moco (over 30 varieties actually). At a low price, you can get a lot of food for a little money 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Paul’s Place: This neighborhood café provides delicious meals created with locally sourced ingredients, but make a reservation well in advance because there are only approximately four tables! 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Hilo Burger Joint: As the name says, this is a terrific informal restaurant for a burger and beer created using locally produced ingredients. Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Pho Viet: Not really a luxurious establishment, but maybe the best pho on the island, with a wide range of options. Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday are closed.
Hilo Bay Café: This upmarket Hilo restaurant is located on one side of a magnificent Japanese garden and on the other side of picturesque Hilo Bay. This is the place to go in Hilo for great dining.
Hilo’s favorite shave ice: location is Hawaiian Brain Freeze Shave Ice. Open from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
We’re glad to share with you all the useful information about the top 25 amazing things to do in Hilo Hawaii. Would like to see how you feel after the whole vacation. Comment down below. See you soon on some posts about the holiday!