Hilo, Hawaii Information
by Tom Ogg
Language and Currency
What is Hilo, Hawaii Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
The official language in Hilo, Hawaii is English and the currency is the US dollar
Hilo is a quaint older town in Hawaii dating back to the turn of the century (1900). Hilo's historic district is very interesting and offers about the only historic area in Hawaii. Hilo is unaffected by tourism for the most part and runs at the pace of old Hawaii.
Hilo resides on the windward side of Hawaii and is subject to a good amount of rainfall, receiving and average of 134 inches each year. Hilo enjoys an average annual temperature of 73 degrees. It is not unusual for Hilo to be covered with heavy clouds even if it is not raining, but if you visit during a Kona storm (winds out of the south) it may well be crystal clear, hot and sunny.
The ships dock in Hilo Bay just beyond the hotel district located on Banyon Drive in Hilo. The Hilo airport is 10 minutes away and downtown Hilo is a short taxi ride of only 10 minutes.
Downtown Hilo offers many unique boutiques offering all types of products from dresses, jewelry, local arts and crafts to typical tourist items such as tee shirts and so on. There will be free shuttle buses to Hilo Hatties (MEGA tourist store) and the Hilo Wal Mart. You can walk to Banyon Drive (about 10 minutes) and shop at the hotel shops and mini mall at Uncle Billy's Hilo Bay Hotel.
Every thing Hawaiian s available at any of these shopping venues. Tee shirts, macadamia nuts and candy, Hawaiian jewelry and collectibles, Hawaiian candles, soap, perfume, plants, leis and so on are all widely available. There is a artisan's market set up to meet the ship and it offers unique items to purchase. Hawaiian wood carvings, puka shell necklaces, fresh flower leis and other Hawaiian products are available here at reasonable prices.
Now this is the real reason to come to Hilo. Hilo is the gateway to the Volcano National Park among many other interesting sights. Hint: Tourist infrastructure in Hilo is limited. If you don't have prearranged tours, car rentals or other arrangements, take the ship's tours. There is a good chance you might get off the ship and not be able to negotiate a taxi or car rental. Taxis are difficult to come by and the car rental companies at the airport may, or may not, have cars available. (If they do, they will send someone to meet the ship to solicit passengers and offer free transportation to the airport.) Here are just some of the things you may want to see and do in and around Hilo.
Volcano National Park promises a wonderful experience if you have never seen a volcano up close and personal before. Kilauea has been erupting for years and continues to offer the opportunity to get quite close to the flow while it is in process. Visiting the park headquarters will allow you to learn where viewing the flow is possible. Park rangers are usually on hand to help you as you walk into the flow area. If you take an organized tour of the area, then your guides will know exactly where to find active flows. The whole area is surreal and is an experience not to be missed.
Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano
In addition to Volcano National Park, Hilo offers some other excellent sightseeing opportunities.
Beautiful Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls State Park presents the opportunity to explore a Hawaiian tropical rain forest and to view Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet in a freefall. The trail to the falls is paved but there are a considerable number of stairs and steep inclines along the way. Kahuna Falls is also seen along the trail and I would suggest viewing it first as it pales in comparison to Akaka Falls.. Akaka Falls State Park is about a 30 minute drive from downtown Hilo along the Hamakua Coast.
The Hamakua Coastline
Signs will lead you to the park and there is no admission. Rainbow Falls, right in downtown Hilo is also another spot worth visiting if you have a rental car. If you have all day in Hilo, it is quite possible to visit all of its attractions and still have time for a nice lunch somewhere.
Rainbow Falls in Hilo
One of my favorite walks is to leave the pier heading (right) into town and cutting across Hilo Bay at the very first opportunity (first through street on your right). Cross over to Banyon Drive and then leisurely walk the length of Banyon Drive stopping where ever you want. The hotels all have stores in them and Uncle Billie's Hilo Bay Hotel has tons of Hawaiian treasures for sale. Once you pass the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, you will enter a lush park known as Queen Liliuokalani Gardens. The Japanese Gardens are absolutely beautiful and you can spend hours here among the pools, gardens and Bonsai trees. If a swim or snorkel is in your plans, take the small bridge over to Coconut Island where you will find small pools with sand bottoms and excellent snorkeling.
Coconut Island by Queen Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo Bay
Continue your walk through the park and up the street past the fish market. If you are there in the morning, this is where giant tuna from the Pacific are auctioned to the highest bidder and the prices may surprise you. From here continue up the street until you hit the main road leading into downtown Hilo. If you happen to be here on a Wednesday or Saturday, you will see the Hilo Farmer's market in progress and this is well worth a stop. Continue into downtown Hilo and enjoy Hilo's many small boutiques, shops and restaurants. Take a taxi back to the ship (you may have to call for one and wait) or simply walk back the same way you came.
Yes, if you haven't seen Volcano National Park, it is well worth the effort to get there.
If you like "Da Kine" Chinese food, try Luong's Chinese Restaurant on the road to the volcano in Hilo. Also, try Cafe 100 downtown for great burgers and local food. Both are inexpensive and are where the locals dine.Vacations in Hawaii Hilo Restaurants
184 users found this review helpful.
We did two excursions though the ship in Hilo. First was the Best of Hilo which included the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, Nani Mau Gardens & Akaka Falls. The...read more
215 users found this review helpful.
Let me begin by saying the two best Islands on this trip were the Big Island of Hawaii as well as Maui. We found the experiences here to be the most enjoyable....read more
56 users found this review helpful.
Our ship stopped here twice. First time we did the helicopter tour, mainly because we'd already been to Volcano Nat'l Park and orchid farms (I'd recommend the park...read more
Anthony De Witt,
13 users found this review helpful.
We did the Volcanoes National Park Odyssey. It was a good tour that took us to a number of good places, including a bonus stop at Rainbow Falls in Hilo. It was a...read more
36 users found this review helpful.
On the Big Island, we took the tour to the observatories at the top of Moana Kea instead of visiting the Volcano national park. The observatories are at...read more
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