Hilo Things to Do Tips by KiKitC Top 5 Page for this destination
Hilo Things to Do: 80 reviews and 150 photos
Driving into Hilo, it's impossible to miss the exapnsive park along the bay. We learned later that the bayfront used to be a busy Japanese town that got washed out by both the tsunamies of 1946 and 1960. After those two devastingly expensive cleanups, it was decided this area would be best used as a park.
There is a statue of King Kamehameha in this park that is like the one on Oahu by the palace. Another interesting piece here is a clock on the side of Kamehameha Street is stopped at the exact time of the 1960 tsunami...1:04 am.
Directions: Kamehameha Street, Hilo bayfront
Lili'uokalani Garden in Hilo
On Banyan Drive, right next to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, there is a quanit Japanese garden, dedicated to Queen Lili'uokalani, who loved gardens. This offered a nice, short stroll from the hotel (about all I could stand in my condition). Unfortunately for us, it had rained more than usual, and much of the park was washed out, not allowing us to visit the area with cute Japanese bridges and statuary.
Directions: On Banyan Drive, right next to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
Waipi'o Valley Overlook
We finally made it to Waipi'o Valley. Just continue up 19 north out of Hilo and follow the signs. This is probably one of the most beautiful spots on our whole trip. The view from the scenic overlook is just enough to make you never want to leave. This offers the quintessential photo for everyone's Hawai'i scrapbook.
This valley is held in high regards spiritually by the natives. They believe that the mana of their ancestors can be felt here. It is also here that King Kamehameha hid as a child to avoid assasination by the king.
There is another road you can access from this point...Waipi'o Valley Road. We didn't head down it, mainly because the 4-wheel drive vehicles were too rough riding while my hand was all pinned together. You need three tings to take this road:
1. A 4 wheel drive vehicle
2. Alot of experience driving steep roads in a 4 wheel drive vehicles
3. Alot of balls
This road has an incredible 45 degree down grade for 900 feet. The inexperienced will burn out their brakes.
There are many tour options that can get you into the valley more easily, including horseback.
Directions: Take 19 north out of Hilo to about the 42 mile marker, and take 240 to Waipi'o Valley
Typical View from 19 North of Hilo
Further north on 19, just past the 27 mile marker, there is a road the leads to Laupahoehoe Point. We didn't take the trip down this road, but this is the spot most remembered for the 1946 tsunami that killed 21 schoolchildren and 3 teachers. Just washed them out to sea. After that, they moved the town further upstream...
The views from this point are of dramatic cliffs and the surf pounded against the jagged rocks. There is a memorial to those that died at the bottom.
Directions: Take 19 north out of Hilo, just past the 27 mile marker, take the road to "Laupahoehoe Point"
Surfer at Kolekole Park
Just after the 14 mile marker on 19 north of Hilo, there is a small park, where the water from Akaka Falls flows out to the ocean. We took the short trip into the park, which is below the highway we just came off of. The bridge the highway was on was part of a railroad bridge that was greatly damaged in the tsunami of 1946.
There is a small waterfall and swimming hole in this park. The beach itself is too hazardous to swim in, but the force of the fresh water stream emptying into the ocean made some impressive surfing conditions. We watched a surfer here for a while. Brave soul. The waves were only 100 yards or so from the rocks of the beach.
This is a nice spot to spend time, there are facilities for a nice picnic. We were there mid-week, and is was pretty empty, though I hear weekends it is busy.
Directions: Take 19 north out of Hilo, just after the 14 mile marker
Just past the 7 mile marker on 19 north of Hilo, there is a turn off for a "scenic" road. This really is a great side trip. It's only 4 miles long, but it twists and turns through lush tropical jungles, and leads you past the Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Jungle. We didn't stop at this site, but I here it is well worth the $15 entrance fee. A little past the gardens, the road takes you to the edge of Onomea Bay. The view here was magical. We had to stop and gaze out for a while.
The road takes you right back up to 19. I highly recommend this diversion.
Directions: Take 19 north out of Hilo. Just past the 7 mile marker.
Akaka Falls - 420 foot drop!
Just a short trip from Hilo, and you can see some of the most impressive waterfalls and lush bamboo jungles. We headed up north from Hilo and took a road a couple miles back to Akaka Falls Park. This is a popular spot, but the payoff is big.
There are actually two waterfalls here, Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls. You can take the trail that leads around to both, but be prepared for slippery, sometimes steep trails. With the pins in my hand and the large cast, I was finding it a little difficult to walk the trail. First of all, holding on to a railing always seemed to be on the bad hand side, and I certainly didn't want to fall...
So you take this trail through the bamboo jungle and we got to the Kahuna Falls first. It drops about 100 feet. Then we continued around the path and got to Akaka Falls. The Akaka Falls drops an awe-inspiring 420 feet!
This is a great short trip out of Hilo, so it should be included on things to do lists for everyone!
Directions: Take 19 north from Hilo to mile marker 13 and take the road to Akaka Falls. There are signs...
Hey...not all of the impressive waterfalls require a full day trip. Just a short trip down Waianuenue Avenue follow the signs for Rainbow Falls. This easy to access waterfall changes depending on the weather. While we were there there was a lot of rain, so the falls were teaming. If you get there in the morning, the light may be just right to see a rainbow, hence the name. We did get to see a small one appear. The cave behind the falls is where King Kamehameha is said to have buried the bones of his father.
Maybe a mile or so up that road, follow the signs for the "Boiling Pots" an area of rapids just upstream of the Rainbow Falls. They were really boiling when we were there with the amount of rain water dropped on us. Just a bit upstream, you can see the Pe'epe'e Falls. I've heard you can reach the falls from this park, but the water was way to treacherous now to try. (Plus, my hand was in a cast, that's asking for trouble).
Need more waterfalls? Continue through this quite neighborhood, not even a mile, you can see Wai'ale Falls from the bridge.
Just one small warning...I've heard the Boiling Pots has numerous car break-ins. It was obvious that less attention is given to this area than Rainbow Falls.
Directions: Just follow the signs on Waianuenue Avenue
The Mauna Loa lava flow of 1881 flowed towards Hilo in this lava tube. It is said that Princess Ruth slept the night in front of the lava flow and asked Pele to spare Hilo, and upon wakening found the lava had stopped. The lava tube that was left is about 25 miles long, and about the 4 mile marker on Kaumana Drive (just off Waianuenue Avenue) there is a small opening, where a hole in the lava tube, exposed to the rainforest Hilo weather, created a micro rainforest opening. Signs at the entrance warn that the cave extnds miles and does lead into private properties. We descended the stairs, and at the bottom are openings to two different caves. The one on the right is a larger opening, and was easier (and safer) for me to walk into shortly. Gordie ventured in just a liitle further, but after the accident, we had shipped all our hiking stuff and flashlights home. I would have loved to explore. The cave on the left has a low overhang, but caverns out on the other side.
Bring your flashlights, waterproof hiking boots and have fun!
Directions: Take Waianuenue Avenue from Hilo to Kaumana Drive. About the 4 mile marker, the cave entrance is just a little spot. We parked across the street and walked over. Don't blink near the mile marker, it's on a corner, you may miss it.
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