11 Incredible Things To Do in Hilo Hawaii
A trip to the Island of Hawai’i is not complete without visiting Hilo! Compared to the west side, Hilo feels more low key and local. We only spent two full days in Hilo but could have easily added more days to enjoy even more activities. Read on for must do activities during your visit to Hilo.
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Where to stay:
We LOVED our stay at Grand Naniloa Hotel! The hotel is located in a stunning location overlooking the water and mountains, the rooms are modern and there are tons of on site amenities. For example, you can dine, rent snorkel gear, swim in the outdoor pool (or take a dip in the ocean!) and enjoy live entertainment in the lobby. We enjoyed getting a morning tea and coffee from the lobby and walking the peaceful grounds. It’s also located near many restaurants, parks and activities so it’s really the perfect place to stay.
Thank you to Grand Naniloa for hosting our stay!
1. Farm Tour with O.K. Farms
One of our favorite activities to do in Hilo Hawaii was visit OK Farms. We learned all about locally grown fruit, coffee, macadamia nuts, spices and cacao. It was a very hands on tour and we got to taste so much of what is grown on the farm. As a bonus, we got to visit a unique view of Rainbow Falls and another gorgeous waterfall on the property too.
2. Farmer’s Market
The Hilo Farmer’s Market is a classic activity in Hilo and for good reason! There are lots of great booths selling delicious local fruits, vegetables and other foods. Plus there’s a second section focused on local crafts. I loved getting lilikoi juice, rambutan and cucumbers for a morning snack plus a beautiful flower.
3. Açaí Bowl in a Pineapple from Makani’s Magic Pineapple Shack
When in Hawaii, you must try an açaí bowl! And even better to enjoy one from a pineapple. Makani’s Magic Pineapple Shack also serve delicious ube soft serve and other beautiful creations.
4. Fresh Mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen
Two Ladies Kitchen was a stop we had to miss but everyone recommended it to us. We heard the mochi is super delicious and fresh. Next time we’re back in Hilo, this is our first stop! You can wait in line or order ahead.
5. Visit Volcanoes National Park
Hilo is conveniently located just under one hour from Volcanoes National Park so you can easily do a day trip there. We had a great time hiking and driving around the park. Some must dos are: Crater Rim drive, Chain of Craters drive (with stops along the way!) and Crater Rim Trail. Since we had our infant son with us (the rangers confirmed the winds were safe on the day we visited), we skipped some classic spots to limit sulphur exposure including Thurston Lava Tube and the Suplhur Banks. If the lava is flowing at night, it’s WELL worth sticking around to see it. Watching lava flow at night from the Kīlauea lookout is one of our top travel moments ever and a must do thing in Hilo Hawaii!
6. Snorkel with turtles at Carlsmith Beach Park
Carlsmith Beach Park is a local gem spot where people snorkel with turtles and picnic with family and friends. It feels like a true oasis!
7. Visit Liliʻuokalani Gardens and the nearby island of Moku Ola / Coconut Island for swimming
For a unique and local activity, check out the Liliʻuokalani Gardens before heading to the island of Moku Ola. The island is a local gem where people go to picnic and swim.
8. Dine on Macadamia Nut Pancakes at Ken’s House of Pancakes
We loved having breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes! With a true local diner feel and delicious food, it’s a must visit spot. We enjoyed banana pancakes, macadamia nut waffles and hearing the every time someone ordered a Sumo size! Definitely a top thing to do in Hilo Hawaii.
9. Get Shave Ice from Wilson’s by the Bay
Wilson’s by the Bay is one more stop we heard great recommendations about but didn’t get the chance to visit this trip. They make delicious shave ice and would be a great treat after a day of exploring.
10. Chase Waterfalls at Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls State Park
The Hilo side of the island is full of gorgeous waterfalls and two of the most popular are Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls State Park. We saw the backside of Rainbow Falls on our OK Farms tour which offered a unique view. Otherwise, you can visit the falls for free. Akaka Falls State Park has a parking fee (unless you park outside of the gates) and an entrance fee. We paid for parking in addition to the entrance fee to support local. Akaka Falls has a lush loop you can walk with great views all around but the falls are the highlight!
11. Enjoy lunch from Onomea Country Market & Cafe
One of our favorite food spots was Onomea Country Market & Cafe. Our food was well worth the wait because it came out so fresh. Definitely get a plate lunch, smoothie and shave ice for dessert.
Are there any other activities you’d add to this list of things to do in Hilo Hawaii?