Once a bustling sugar port, today Hilo is one of Hawaii's most charming coastal towns anchored by a walkable downtown district where you'll find fantastic farmers markets and museums. You can gaze up at smouldering craters in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, hike to multicoloured Rainbow Falls and soak up the sun on the Hamakua Coast.
Things to do in Hilo
Overlooking the bay, Liliʻuokalani Park is a scenic place to enjoy an afternoon picnic or a sunset stroll. The beautifully kept Japanese gardens are dotted with banyan trees, emerald lawns, koi ponds and pagodas. On a clear day, you can see stunning views of Mauna Kea volcano.
For a glimpse at the Big Island's colourful history, don't miss the Lyman Museum & Mission House. The pint-sized museum is filled with everything from lava rocks and rare shells to traditional island jewellery and Hawaiian tattoo art tools.
One of Hilo's top attractions is the Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. Filled with tropical plants, the zoo is brimming with monkeys, sloths, parrots and reptiles. It's also home to Sriracha and Tzatziki, a pair of magnificent Bengal tigers.
Head to golden sands that line Onekahakaha Beach Park, perfect for a family day out, thanks to its shallow water. Nearby Richardson's Ocean Park is another local favourite, attracting sunseekers with its gleaming black sand, rolling surf and the occasional sea turtles.
Getting around Hilo
Local buses run throughout Hilo, while bicycles are an eco-friendly way to get around. Cars are the best way to explore the Big Island at your own pace. Flights touch down at Hilo International Airport, located just outside the town centre.