One of the best parts of living on the Big Island of Hawai`i is how
old friends come to the greater (one might say big) area. I'm
often suggesting itinerary for visitors, that basically encompass ever
increasing circles around us. (Many places featured in various Photo Albums.) So here I'm just going to lay it
all out: Kathy's Suggested To Do for:
Some of the highlights to do in the Hilo
area (with some estimates of time, not including travel):
Walk the sea wall around the Hilo Bay; best for calm
seas; consumes approximately 1 hr.
Stroll in Wailoa River State Park, just off the bayfront
to see local fisher(wo)men and many ducks and geese (including
nēnē, the state bird). (It's also very convenient
to park, grab a coffee or milkshake from Just Cruisin
Coffee, and walk the park.)
Lincoln Park actually has a great playground
and picnic tables. It's enclosed by a fence. Though homeless
people hang around, it's a good park to go with keiki.
Kea`au Shipman Park is another great
playground, farther out of town. One of the few playgrounds that
has a merry-go-round-like facility.
Richardson's is probably the best beach in
town (with a great keiki pool at the far end); consumes as little
as 30 min or as long as you like.
But actually, the go-to-with-keiki beach is Onekahakaha Beach Park because it's a
sheltered beach with facilities.
But the chance of honu spotting (not to mention swimming) and
nice sheltered area of Carlsmith Beach Park is not to be missed (and
just a bit closer to Hilo Town than Richardson's). It's nice and
sheltered, which is good for keiki. Again, it can take 30 min or all
We've finally been snorkeling at Kapoho Tide Pools, which are awesome! And only
about 40 min from Hilo Town. Even if it's "low" tide,
there is plenty of depth for snorkeling. And no matter the weather
in Hilo, it's likely sunny in Kapoho.
The 2018 lower Puna eruption took the tide pools out!
What we've been meaning to check out but haven't (in case you
want to visit and have us do something new):
Soak in natural hot ponds (probably also taken out by
lava in 2018)
Kaulana Manu Nature Trail is off of a rest
stop on the Hilo-side of Saddle Rd. It is a small walk through a
kīpuka, with possibility of seeing native
birds and good signs about local flora and culture.
Pu`u Huluhulu is a hike up a cinder cone
(pu`u) across from Maunakea Access Rd.
South Point of the USA is about 30 min
continuing on from Black Sand Beach.
And this is getting far, but when one goes to Kona via this
route, one can also stop at Place
of Refuge (Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Park) for
Hawaiian history, which also has great snorkeling at Two Steps (Hōnaunau) right before the
Park entrance, and
Greenwell Farms for tour of a Kona coffee
farm and 100% Kona coffee tasting.
Also along this way is the Captain Cook Monument with a
(serious) hike down to my favorite snorkeling spot so
far on the Island.
Captain Cook has good stuff, including the best snorkeling at
Two Step, by Pu`uhonua o Hōnaunau (aka Place of
Refuge)... unless you do the kayak over or hike down to the Captain Cook's
Waipi`o Valley (AKA Valley of the Gods) has
the "steepest road of its length in the United
States" and thus requires walking; it's about 1.25 hr from
Hilo Town (opposite direction from the above, past Akaka Falls mentioned above).
To get the other side of the view of Waipi`o Valley, Pololu Valley Lookout is near enough Waimea
not to miss.
Some of our favorite Hilo eats (and some
beyond Hilo). I list them roughly in order of decreasing number of
Taqueria: it's not quite California-level good Mexican food
but it's very good; I recommend any "Lucy's" and the
"tofu al pastor". Patrik likes their fajita meat and wet
burritos. We both recommend blended lilikoi margaritas.
Sadly closed in 2021!
Reuben's Mexican Food: second best Mexican
in town, also with good lilikoi margaritas. It's a good backup
for when Lucy's is randomly closed for holiday (good family-run
Burger Joint: free burger on your birthday; it's definitely a
staple; they have vegan burgers; I recommend Nacho Burger. It has
Kitchen: Indian food, rather slow but fine for take-out. Make
sure to call the right place because there's one in Hilo and one
in Kona. They give a Kama`aina discount.
Cruisin Coffee: this is really just my preference for latte and
bagel breakfast sandwiches; also good for hard milkshakes.
Fresh Thai Cuisine: really one of our favorite eat-in or
take-out Thai places. We both recommend the pad thai. Make sure to
check they're open (definitely a family-run place). It's
Cafe: probably the finest dining in Hilo Town; I've only
Cafe Concerto: really good Italian food but
a super-tiny place with a real "slow food"
attitude. It's bring-your-own-alcohol.
Miyo's: Japanese food tends to be on the finer
end of dining and this is Patrik's favorite place. I don't find
too much vegetarian stuff. It's more of a noodle place than
sushi. It has outdoor seating.
Suisan Fish Market: more a place to grab poke
or something to grill. Allegedly there is a good ahi burger at the
kiosk nearby but Patrik hasn't verified either the quality nor the
Island Naturals Market and Deli: this is
actually our first grocery store. They have a hot deli which is
pretty good for grabbing and going (or eating outside at their
Hilo "Dining on the Edge" because it overlooks a cove; they
also have a coy pond and tables near it get to feed the fish.
Island Pizza: we pick up and have much leftover; we recommend
the portobello mozzarella. (As of April 2017, they were "temporarily
closed" while they relocate; alas, they seem to have failed
to reopen—we miss good pizza on the east-side!)