Rocky shore of a rain forest in Hilo, Hawaii
OLD HAWAII VIBE

Cruise to Hilo, Hawaii

In Hilo, you'll discover a small, quiet town on Hawaii Island's windward side. The vibe here is definitively Old Hawaii. Cruise to Hilo and explore the downtown area, with centuries-old storefronts and galleries where locals sell their paintings, jewelry and pottery. Pop into the Lyman Musuem, where you can uncover the history of Hawaii's volcanoes. Then, head a few miles north to 'Akaka Falls State Park, where you can hike among the lush greenery to catch a glimpse of waterfalls. See the lava shores of Carlsmith Beach Park, and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Later, walk among mango trees at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Park, or cool off with a locally brewed beer at Mehana Brewing Company.
National Language English
Currency Accepted U.S. Dollar (USD)

Things To Do in Hilo

A Japanese garden in Hawaii

Park by the Bay

A Japanese garden in Hawaii

A Japanese garden in Hawaii

Park by the Bay

Liliuokalani Gardens is a 24-acre Japanese garden alongside Hilo Bay — the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan. It's where local families go to play or relax. Enjoy its lovely landscaping, arching bridges that pass above fishponds, walking paths, pagodas, Japanese stone lanterns and a teahouse.

View of the Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii

Waterfalls and Rainbows

View of the Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii

View of the Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii

Waterfalls and Rainbows

Visit the accessible, 80-foot-high Rainbow Falls around 10 a.m., and you may see rainbows in the mist. Further upriver, you'll find Peepee ("pay-ay-pay-ay") Falls feeding the terrace pools called Boiling Pots, which bubble as if boiling. Just take in the view, though — it's not safe to swim here.

A sea turtle in the ocean in Hawaii
A sea turtle in the ocean in Hawaii

Swim With Turtles

Take a picnic lunch with you and visit a local black-sand beach such as Richardson's Beach Park, popular for swimming and snorkeling. You may see honu (green sea turtles), dolphins and — in the distance at certain times of the year — migrating whales.

A plate of traditional Poke with white rice in Hawaii
A plate of traditional Poke with white rice in Hawaii

Local Cuisine

Everywhere in Hilo, you'll find the local-style "plate lunch," with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad and an entree of teriyaki chicken or beef stew. Cruise to Hilo and try other traditional Hawaiian staples, like laulau: fish and pork wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. Cool off with shave ice — it's a cousin to the snow cone, but fluffier.

An assortment of coco beach necklaces
An assortment of coco beach necklaces

Shopping

When you walk into Hilo from the dock, you'll come across Basically Books, which offers classic Hawaii-style books. Big Island Candies has high-end, gorgeously packaged chocolates. Stroll down Kamehameha Avenue downtown, and stop into one of the galleries and boutiques selling local handicrafts, including jewelry, art and handmade pottery.

Insider's Tips
Insider's Tips
1 Buy a lei to wear while you're in town, and then toss it in the ocean as you leave. Tradition says if your lei floats back toward shore, you will return to Hawaii.
2 Pack a jacket — even though this is Hawaii, it can get chilly here, and occasional rains are commonplace.

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