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.)
Richardson's is probably the best beach in
town; consumes as little as 30 min or as long as you like.
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.
What we've been meaning to check out but haven't (in case you
want to visit and have us do something new):
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.
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.
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.
Cruisin Coffee: this is really just my preference for latte and
bagel breakfast sandwiches; also good for hard milkshakes.
Island Pizza: we pick up and have much leftover; we recommend
the portobello mozzarella. (As of April 2017, they are temporarily
closed while they relocate; we eagerly await their re-opening
because we miss good pizza on the east-side!)
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