Things to Do in Hilo: Attractions in Hilo You Won’t Regret Visiting on Your Day Trip to the Island of Hawaii

When people think of Hawaii, they usually think of Honolulu. But have they been to the Island of Hawaii itself? The town of Hilo is home to some amazing attractions that you won’t want to miss. Let’s go through all the things to do in Hilo!

things to do in hilo

Why Is Hilo Worth Visiting?

Hilo is located on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The town was originally settled by Polynesians, and today it’s the county seat of the Hawaii County. Its economy was historically based on sugar plantations, and today there are plenty of things to do in Hilo for tourists – though it’s not as popular as the western side of the island.

Hilo is a small town, but it has lots of things going on throughout the year. There are festivals that take place during the summer months in June and July, which include Ukulele Festivals, Hawaiian Music Festivals, and more. 

Tourists can spend their time in downtown Hilo exploring both natural wonders and historical sites. The people are very friendly and welcoming as well as being knowledgeable about their surroundings. They will be happy to answer any questions that you may have while visiting their area.

Things to Do in Hilo – Parks and Natural Wonders

The Island of Hawaii is one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth, with Kīlauea volcano erupting continuously. As a result, the landscape is constantly changing and new attractions emerge.

As you plan your trip to Hilo, keep in mind that this area is home to many natural wonders and attractions that will leave you amazed. Here are some of the best things to do in Hilo.

Wailuku River State Park

The Wailuku River State Park is a beautiful green space, with jungle-like flora and fauna. The park is home to many species of birds and animals, some of which are endangered. It has a number of hiking trails for visitors to explore the natural beauty – one highlight is Rainbow Falls.

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Richardson Ocean Park

This is one of the most popular attractions in Hilo because it is located on the oceanfront. Visitors can enjoy a day at the beach covered with lava rocks, or go swimming in the ocean during warmer months. This park also has several picnic spots where visitors can enjoy their lunch break while enjoying a beautiful ocean view.

Liliuokalani Gardens

This garden features many beautiful flowers and plants that are native to Hawaii, as well as a Japanese Garden. There is also an impressive waterfall that flows through this garden, making it one of Hilo’s most popular places for tourists to visit when they come to town. North of the gardens, you’ll find Coconut Island in Hilo Bay.

Carlsmith Beach Park

This park has a beautiful beach that stretches for more than two miles. It’s an ideal place for swimming or sunbathing. There are also many other activities available at this park, including snorkeling, picnicking, surfing, kayaking and canoeing.

Kaumana Caves

These caves are lava tubes that are open to the public for free. Visitors can explore the caves and see stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over time. Bring good shoes, or you might slip on the rocks. A flashlight is also necessary, as it’s pitch black deep inside the caves.

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens

The Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Hawaii’s wildlife. The zoo features over 80 species of animals from around the world, including:

  • giant anteaters;
  • American alligators;
  • Bengal tigers.

More than 40 species of plants cover the grounds of the zoo, providing a lush environment for the animals to live in. There is also a botanical garden on site. The best thing about the zoo is that admission is free!

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Wailoa River State Recreation Area

This recreation area is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Visitors can go for a walk or run along the river, or rent a canoe and paddle down the river. There are also picnic tables available, making it a great spot to have a picnic lunch. One highlight is the Giant Banyan Tree.

Indoor Things to Do in Hilo

If you’re looking for things to do in Hilo on a rainy day, or if you just want to escape the heat, there are plenty of indoor attractions to keep you entertained.

Pacific Tsunami Museum

The Pacific Tsunami Museum is dedicated to educating the public about tsunamis and their impact on Hawaii. The museum features exhibits on the history of tsunamis in Hawaii, as well as the science behind these massive waves.

Imiloa Astronomy Center

The Imiloa Astronomy Center is a great place to learn about Hawaiian culture and the night sky. The center features a planetarium, exhibit hall, and library. Visitors can also take part in stargazing events that are held on the grounds.

Lyman Museum

The Lyman Museum is a history museum that tells the story of Hawaii and its people. The museum features exhibits on the geological history of the islands, as well as the cultural history of Hawaii.

Wailoa Art Center

The Wailoa Art Center is a great place to see the work of local artists. The center features a gallery, gift shop, and classrooms. Visitors can also take part in art classes that are offered at the center.

Shopping at the Hilo Farmers Market

The Hilo Farmers Market offers fresh, local produce. There are lots of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and prepared foods to browse from more than 200 vendors. The market is open every day, and it’s the best place to taste tropical fruits like durian and mangosteen!

Places to Visit Around Hilo

There are plenty of things to do in Hilo, but there are also many great places to visit nearby. The Island of Hawaii is full of natural beauty, and there are plenty of attractions to explore.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa;
  • Onomea Bay Trail – a short, easy hike that takes you through a rainforest to Onomea Bay;
  • Akaka Falls State Park – home to two waterfalls, the 440-foot Akaka Falls and the 100-foot Kahuna Falls;
  • Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden – a botanical garden that features more than 2000 species of plants and animals;
  • Mauna Kea – a dormant volcano that is the tallest mountain in Hawaii;
  • Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park – a historic place of refuge for Hawaiian lawbreakers, located on the western side of the island.
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Enjoy Your Trip to Hawaii Island!

Hilo is a great place to visit, with plenty of things to do to keep you entertained. From hiking and biking to shopping and exploring, there’s something for everyone in this town. Be sure to add these attractions to your list of things to do in Hilo!


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