Hawaii Tourism Information
For decades the Hawaii Islands were an isolated, distant and remote destination which only a few wealthy people could afford to travel to and enjoy the luxury which these islands have always been associated with. Then on the 7 December 1941 the islands hit the news for disastrous reasons after a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbour, destroying key strategic points of the air force defence and sinking several ships, including the Arizona and Oklahoma, which are now pieces of museum and memorials. The attack led to the United States getting involved in the Second World War and retaliate back to Japan with a nuclear bomb.
After things calmed down and the war was over on the 2nd of September 1945, tourism soon returned to the islands. At the beginning flying to Hawaii, was a matter of many hours, even days, and on board old war-used planes. However this was changing by the 1970 with the introduction of jet planes which reduced flying time from the west coast to the USA to Honolulu to about 6 hours. The islands quickly became more popular to foreign tourists from Europe and Asia, making the destination an ideal place for honey-moon couples and for celebratory trips.
The Islands of Hawaii become a State of the USA in 1959, located in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, about 3,200 km from the west coast of the Continental United States. The state is formed by 8 main islands, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii. Thanks to the advances in aviation now you can reach Honolulu from Los Angeles or San Francisco in just over 5 hours.
The islands are a true and natural paradise of unparalleled beauty, with plenty of soft sand beaches with transparent crystal waters, renowned for relaxing or for aquatic and adventure sports. The Hawaii Islands offers to the visitor a unique experience which can't be compared to anywhere else on the planet with mother nature at its most essential.
Whether it's the nature which attracts you to Hawaii or the glamour of it's popular resorts and beaches, make sure your visit is complete and get to experience as much of the islands as possible.
The distance and location of Hawaii is one of the reasons why not that many people actually travel there. However since 2010 the cost of travelling to Hawaii has dramatically decreased thanks to the revolution in air travel, with more advanced planes and lower costs. Nevertheless when travelling to Hawaii now a days you need to consider the cost of accommodation as the main factor as to how many days to stay. The islands have always been associated with luxury, so paying for services, tours and accommodation is always at a premium rate.
In our guides we will tell you how to maximise your time in Hawaii and make the most of your stay.
The islands location makes it ideal to visit any time of year. The average temperature is between 24-30°C. There are two main seasons, Summer, (April to November) is warm and dry with temperatures up to 33°C at the peak of the Summer (July-August). While winter, (December to March, is a bit cooler (20-26°C).
If you're coming to watch the Whales, the season begins in late December and ends in early May.
For surf lovers the best time to come is November to February when the big wave surf season is located on Hawaii’s north shores.
Hawaiian food offers the best mix of Pacific influence and some new American cooking styles, influenced by Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican and other Asian countries. Many dishes are based on chicken, pork, seafood and local fruit and vegetables. When visiting in Hawaii, don't miss out on trying the juices, cocktails and smoothies which are made with exotic fruits from the Pacific area. Served in long glasses, with a straw and lot's of ice is the best way to keep cool during the hot days.
The typical dishes you can find on the islands are: The traditional Hawaiian feast, the luau based around a puaa kalua (whole pig) that has been shaved and rubbed with rock salt on the inside. It is then placed on chicken wire, filled with hot stones from the fire, and cooked in an imu (pit) along with sweet potatoes, plantains and sometimes laulau (pork, butterfish and spinach-like taro shoots wrapped in leaves and steamed) served with traditional Hawaiian poi (thick paste made from ground taro). Other dishes includes moi (mullet) ulua, opakapaka (pink snapper), lobster, yellowfin tuna and mahi-mahi.
Hawaiian breakfast specialities are macadamia nuts, banana and coconut pancakes with coconut syrup. Pineapples are the biggest crop in Hawaii and you will see many variations of this fruit, together with other tropical fruits to make juices, smoothies and ice-cream. , banana and coconut pancakes with coconut syrup. Pineapples are the biggest crop in Hawaii and you will see many variations of this fruit, together with other tropical fruits to make juices, smoothies and ice-cream.
✔️Tip: Try Shave Ice cream: a very popular dessert and snack on the islands which become popular in the 80’s when new tropical flavors surfaced such as mango, lilikoi (passion fruit), and guava. Hawaiian shave ice became magical when a scoop of vanilla ice cream was placed at the bottom of the cup before piling snow on top. Then you can add syrup flavours on top of the snow, which gives it it's distinctive colours. As the sweet flavors drip there way down the cup and blended in with the ice cream, you can imagine the treat that awaits you! Today Hawaii shave ice establishments continue to push the envelope with flavors & toppings, and create some of the most amazing creations has ever seen, available all over the islands.
Honolulu Tourism Information
The capital of the state of Hawaii is Honolulu, the centre of commerce, transport hub and tourism for all the islands which acts as a major connection centre for travellers and locals. Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu, it's the third largest Hawaiian island and is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population.
The island of Oahu, is an island of contrast, the clear blue waters of Kailua Beach meet the metropolitan city of Honolulu. The historic architecture of Iolani Palace meets the timeless memorials of Pearl Harbour. The big city of Waikiki meets the small town of Haleiwa on the North Shore.
The island is renowned for the famous waves of Waikiki beach where surfing was born, the big-wave surf on the North Shore, the natural beauty of it's landscape, farms and deep forests. Combining nature with a buzzing city life where to enjoy excellent cuisine at table restaurants, browse the latest designer and local fashions, check out the urban art scene in Chinatown or stroll into Hawaii’s history at Iolani Palace... the island offers plenty of activities to do both cultural and for fun.
The island is also popular for it's night-long parties, when the sun goes down, the “Heartbeat of Hawaii” awakens to a new beat, there are plenty of bars, clubs and beach parties happening year round!
Honolulu has the biggest airport of all islands and offers the best connections and local transportation options when arriving to Hawaii. The airport has only public busses which commute to the local areas around the island, including the popular resorts of Waikiki.
To get to Honolulu centre and Waikiki beach you can get bus 19/20 from the departure levels for only $2.50. You will need to pay with exact change on the bus. Both routes stop at the same stop, and in both directions, so make sure you get the correct direction. The trip takes about 45 min by bus to Waikiki beach. Note, that there are signs which suggest that it's not allowed to carry large suitcases on the busses (only hand luggage) however when we travelled we did not encounter any restrictions by the drivers.
When travelling in the island, there are only public busses, which are the cheapest way of moving around if you decide to do it "solo" and not buy any organised tours. There is one pass for 4 days unlimited travel which is worth it if exploring every corner of the island. It costs $35 and can be bought at ABC Stores.
However if you decide to take taxis, this can set you back a lot of money as only in Honolulu centre and Waikiki it's easy to get them as other areas you will need to prearrange pick up service. To/from the airport it can cost about $30-40 per ride and if travelling with large luggage they could add a surcharge as well.
Below you will find the maps ready to download for the local transport options in Honolulu, Waikiki and the airport:
✔️Tip: If you are travelling with a group of people or are keen to explore the island, renting a car or a bike is the best suggestion to split costs and have autonomy on the times and distances you travel. There are numerous car rental companies available when you arrive in Honolulu airport, but always it's best to reserve in advance online.
Although the best things to do in the Island have the hefty price association, there are few things that won't cost you a 'dollar'!
- Waikiki beach: the world-famous neighbourhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. it's known in Hawaiian as "spouting waters," as the area is famous for surfers and water activities. Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area and a vibrant gathering place for visitors from around the world. On the main road of Kalakaua Avenue you'll find world-class shopping, dining, entertainment, activities and resorts. Waikiki is most famous for its beaches and every Hotel is just two or three blocks away from the sea. Best of all, Waikiki is the best place to stay to visit other attractions, within a half hour you can reach attractions including Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout and Hanauma Bay.
✔️Tip: Make sure you are nearby the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort on a Friday after sun set, (Between 7.45pm and 9pm) because you will be amazed with a 10 minute display of incredible colourful fireworks to start off the traditional Hawaiian weekend and get into the mood of the party!
- Army Museum Society: whilst in Waikiki you will see this big building looking like a bunker, the museum is actually housed inside Battery Randolph, a former coastal artillery battery. The museum's collection contains some World War II armour pieces, an AH-1 Cobra helicopter, and small arms indoors, as well as the battery itself. Museum exhibits cover the military history of pre-Imperial Hawaii and the post-annexation history of US Army warfare in the Pacific hemisphere including World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. The best thing about it that admission is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. It is located adjacent to the Hale Koa Hotel.
- Ala Moana Shopping centre: This retail and entertainment park is within walking distance from Waikiki beach on the western side. It hosts an incredible amount of more than 340 shopping outlets for all budgets, from high-end luxury boutiques to retailers which specialise in everything from casual wear to unique Hawaii surf gear, Aloha shirts, swimsuits and much more. As well you find plenty of entertainment to eat, drink, watch cinema and even some shows are held in the many little squares or plazas during the day. You can get to the centre by bus number 19/20. ($2.50)
- Honolulu downtown: It will take only 20 minutes to travel by bus to the Honolulu downtown if you are staying within Waikiki beach. The capital is an interesting city to explore and see how the locals live. You’ll find historic landmarks and treasured monuments, shopping areas and a flourishing arts and culture scene, museums and nightlife entertainment. Some of Hawaii’s most historic places like Iolani Palace, the Kawaiahao Church, the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archive, Bishop Museum and the Aloha Tower can be seen in the area. In Honolulu you will also find the centre of nightlife, live music, art galleries and underground bars of the Chinatown district.
The island offers a big array of options to please every kind of tourist. If you want to learn about the history and culture related to the islands, Pearl Harbour and the Army Museum Society won't disappoint you. But naturally most travellers come to the islands to relax and chill.
You can enjoy a relaxing escape to the legendary North Shore, a romantic sunset cruises off the coast of Waikiki, learn to surf, whale watching or eating at a luau are all some of the many activities you can do on the island to keep you entertained.
✔️Tip: Book tours: despite the cost of them there are dozens of activities which are only possible to do via an organised tour. There are many options available when you arrive and it can be overwhelming deciding which activities to do or not. Booking online is a good option but to get the best advice and combine several activities for one price, we suggest you to visit a face to face agency to get discounts and get useful information. The tour agency recommended is Affordabletours, which is located in central Waikiki, at Seaside Avenue and Lauula St. The service, information and friendliness of the staff is excellent and they provide good deals when combining several tours.
Now, let's see what are the best things you can see and do whilst in Oahu:
- PCC, Polynesian Cultural Centre: It first opened its doors in 1963, for students at the adjacent Church College of Hawaii (now Brigham Young University Hawaii) to earn money for their education and as a means to preserve and portray the cultures, art and crafts of the people of Polynesia. The centre has grown to become Hawaii's number-one paid attraction, showing the public the rituals, culture facts, ways of life of the Polynesian people by an array of activities, shows, songs and live dances which take place every day. (except Sundays/bank holidays). You will also see real village replicas of the seven countries which form part of the centre, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Marquesas, Tonga and Hawaii. When visiting the PCC with the tour you will get inclusive of meals, canoe ride and evening show. (price aprox $90 per adult).
- Circle tour, this is a 120 mile narrated tour which takes you around the island of Oahu and all its scenic and historic sites like: Diamond Head Crater, Waimea Bay, North Shore & Sunset Beach, Blowhole, Chinaman's Hat, Sugar cane fields, Dole Pineapple Hut and others. (price approx $40 per adult).
- Pearl Harbour, the historic events which took place back in 1941 are relived and documented in the Pearl Harbour museum and memorials. Read, understand and see videos, official images and remains of the attack which sent the US into War with Japan. The area in bathed in a cold and serious mood where it's advised to remain in silence during your visit for respect to the area. The drama continues as you board a boat which takes you to the Arizona Memorial (No bags allowed). Other visits include the Missouri Ship Memorial, (where the signing of the end of the WW II took place) the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin, Submarine. Tours to Pearl Harbour just include the Arizona Memorial, therefore be advised you need to pay extra for any others. (price approx $30 per adult).
- Kualoa Ranch, Jurassic Park & Adventure Tours, Hawaii is a destination which has been featured hundred of times in movies and series. It's popular to visit the sites where famous moving where filmed. (Jurassic Park is the most famous). The tours can range from a few hours to a couple of days. You can walk, bike, ride a ATV, ride a horse, by 4x4 etc. Check with Affordabletours for more info.
- Beach Luau, a typical gathering in Hawaii beautiful sand beaches to say goodbye to the day, under music, barefoot dancing and island style fun. Only possible to join by tours, it includes 3 alcoholic drinks, all you can eat luau buffet, all you can drink soft drinks, hula dancing, Imu (ancient underground oven) ceremony, Polynesian fire knife dancer, Royal court procession and a 45 minute ride outside Waikiki. (price $65 per adult).
- Fun and snorkelling tour: A full day of dolphin watching and snorkelling in the pristine waters off West Oahu. The tour includes lunch and equipment provided. After a morning of meeting wild Spinner dolphins, later you can explore the beautiful underwater world of Oahu's best snorkelling spot. On occasions you might be able to see the whales too in season. (price $100 per adult).
When you finish from the tours, swimming or enjoying walking along Waikiki beach the fun is just about to start when the sunsets! It's not only about the hula dancers and roast pigs, Honolulu offers a much more diverse experience for the adventurous visitor. Waikiki has a number of bars and restaurants ranging from friendly pubs to upscale nightclubs, and some host live music on various nights of the week.
Chinatown is also a bustling neighbourhood after dark, with a number of underground bars. Other great nightlife hubs in Honolulu include The Aloha Tower Marketplace, which has more than 60 restaurants and bars, and the Ala Moana Shopping Centre.
🌈Honolulu also offers all types of ways for LGBT travelers to let loose, from gay bars to gay beaches. The best gay bars are around Waikiki Beach. Honolulu's gay nightlife scene is concentrated in this area, meaning you can conveniently spend the day lounging under the sun and then head straight to the bars. Some of the most famous bars are Wang Chung's, Bacchus Waikiki, In Between Waikiki. As for clubs, you can find Scarlet Honolulu and Hula's Bar & Lei Stand.
Honolulu is Hawaii's biggest shopping city and you will find anything and everything among the city's huge malls, arcades, fashionable boutiques and local craft shops.
Shopping for authentic Hawaiian souvenirs is a pastime in Honolulu and there is no end of quality to finding local products and international brands.
There are several major shopping malls and places of interest you should not miss for those shopping sprees:
- Aloha Tower Marketplace: This popular shopping center has a superb location next to the Honolulu Harbor and its two-story structure is loaded with stores featuring clothing, art and jewelry. Additionally, the Aloha Tower Marketplace has numerous restaurants and live entertainment, as well as the Aloha Tower, which can be visited free of charge for amazing views over the harbor.
- Ala Moana Shopping Center: For some serious spending in Honolulu, the Ala Moana is a massive open air mall with over 200 stores and a multitude of restaurants. Attractions here include many of the world's most fashionable and well-known boutiques, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Gianni Versace and all major department stores.
- DFS Galleria Waikiki: The likes of Cartier and Calvin Klein have boutiques here along with many other world-class designers. The DFS Galleria famously houses Hawaii's largest beauty and cosmetic store and boasts an entire floor devoted to duty free items, as well as being a good venue for those with a fancy for high fashion and arts and crafts.
- Hilo Hattie: With free shuttle service available from Waikiki, Hilo Hattie is a must-see store, especially if you are after some colorful Hawaiian fashions. Hilo Hattie is the world's largest manufacturer of Hawaiian fashions, ranging from cool to classy looks, and is also known for its huge selection of island souvenirs.
- Honolulu Chocolate Company: The Chocolate Company, where the likes of Kona coffee and macadamia nuts are dipped in delicious chocolates and boxed, is known for its gourmet chocolates. Only the finest Hawaiian flavors can be had here.
- 2100 Kalakaua: This new three-story shopping center oozes quality and houses such famed and fashionable boutiques as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Chanel and Tiffany and Co; an intriguing bronze statue adorns the front of the center.
In Oahu, most likely you will be staying within Waikiki, for it's best transportation options, location and tours which depart in the area. Prices are very inflated in Hawaii as a general rule, by its popularity, beauty and scenery which are things you pay indirectly for. When planning to book Hotels it's important the location is within easy reach to the beaches and/or transportation, (unless you rent a car, it's better to stay within a mile to the beach front from Waikiki), to avoid long walks back and forth when the heat is at its highest.
The closest Hotels to the front line of the beach are the most expensive costing as much as $250 per night. However if you look around, you can find reasonable Hotels at $100 per night. Unfortunately that's as cheap as it gets, so if you're on a budget the best option is to stay in a Hostel or shared accommodation, which can bring the prices down to $30 per night. Airbnb is also a good option for cheaper nights, but locations are predominately in Honolulu city.
💭 Suggestion! A recommended hostel to stay on a budget is, ecommended hostel to stay on a budget is, ecommended hostel to stay on a budget is, ecommended hostel to stay on a budget is, The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel. It offers comfortable accommodation laid in different sized rooms, privates and shared dorms with self-catering facilities and free WIFI. The location is excellent, at only 5min to the beach front and 3 min to the busses, including the airport bus.
The Island of Oahu is a big space to explore and there's always something to do or see travelling around it, either by the tours or by driving along the coast line roads.
Waikiki and Honolulu which is where everything is concentrated can be seen comfortably in 2 or 3 days. However the more tours you are willing to make, the more days you will need, as some tours can last a whole day. Naturally, you also want to have some time to enjoy the beaches and the relaxing environment.
A suggested 7 days would be enough to take it all in and combine tours with relaxing, making worth it the trip distance and time taken to reach Hawaii.
✔️Tip: Consider extending your trip by visiting other islands and seeing as much as possible in the Hawaii Islands, which sure makes a holiday of a lifetime!
Honolulu Photo Slide 📷
Hilo Tourism Information
Hilo is located on Hawaii Island, the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain, most importantly this island offers visitors a much closer feeling to nature, it's home to the most active volcanoes in the world! If you like overgrown tropical rainforests, waterfalls, volcanic rock formations, rough seas and adventure tourism, this is your island!
Hilo is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.In the region around Hilo you can find dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests and blooming gardens. It's the starting point to the many tours which depart from Hilo to visit Hawaii Island. Hilo grew in size when in the 1800's thanks to the sugar industry, more factories were created.
Since then it has evolved into a commercial city. The centre of Hilo was built around its crescent-shaped bay and became the seat of the county government.
Unfortunately it was washed away several times in 1946 and 1960 by a tsunami but was successfully rebuilt.
Today Hilo is an interesting town to visit, home to museums, art galleries and shops. It's a breath of fresh-air away the more crowded and party atmosphere scenes of Kona, situated on the opposite side of the Island. Hilo is a peaceful town, where time seems to have stopped and it's people are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Hilo has converted into an inviting tourism centre as it's popular as a base when visiting the National Park.
On Hawaii Island or the Big Island as it's commonly known, the weather factors vary greatly because of the Volcanoes which are constantly erupting and mixing into the sky, gasses and fumes from within the Earth. Generally the climate is the same as the rest of the islands, warm and humid during most of the year. However on the big island it can seem always more cloudy and grey, due to the clouds which gather around the mountain hills and the wind currents which bring in precipitations.
When the sun shines it can feel really hot but when the sun is hidden by the thick clouds, temperatures can drop easily by 5°C. Evenings and nights are also fresher, so it's advised to take jackets, and mountain gear if you are staying for longer.
Also an interesting aspect of the island is it's rainfall which falls mainly at night, it can be at times heavy rain and constant the higher you travel into the centre of the island.
The days can always change in a matter of a few hours, so taking umbrellas or waterproof gear is very advisable when visiting Hawaii Island.
Although most of Hawaii Island remains safe, caution should be taken in or around the area of volcanic activity. The volcanic activity and accompanying earthquakes, tsunami risk, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions pose deadly risks. Visitors in the area must pay attention to official information in order to protect themselves in the case that the Volcano starts erupting more violently.
When taking tours, always pay attention to the guide's safety advice and experience on the routes chosen. Also sometimes, due to the weather factors, some activities and tours needs to be cancelled due to higher lava activity, high gas emissions or intense rainfall (which might contain toxic particles).
Local residents and visitors are urged to stay informed about any recent notifications on the volcanic activity.
You can register to be part of Hawaii County’s emergency notification system by going to this link.
❗Attention: What can you do if you encounter volcanic threat activity?
- Maintaining mental and emotional health: Most importantly don't panic and remain calm. Evacuations and the insecurity of not knowing what will happen are a source of stress and anxiety for many people. Talk to your family members and friends to maintain a strong support system. Children are particularly vulnerable. Help your children by sharing age-appropriate information and being honest.
- Stay up to date: Watch local news or check updates online that can warn you of level of action being taken in the area. Another option is to contact your accommodation and informing them about your plans, dates and needs for them to be informed and transmit the necessary information to the authorities if necessary.
- Don't rush to the airport: Most flights will not operate if the threat of volcanic activity is high. The best thing is to remain in your hotel and call the airline for advice on ticket changes and checking online for status updates.
- Be aware of vog and vog risk: It's mog or haze containing volcanic dust and gases. When levels of vog are high, avoid outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and avoid smoking. Stay indoors and close windows and doors. If an air conditioner is in use, set it to recirculate.
- Volcanic ash health risks. When explosive volcanic eruptions occur, volcanic ash can be a health hazard, even miles away from the eruption. Volcanic ash can cause problems breathing, especially for those with respiratory issues. Thin strands of volcanic glass fibers carried on the wind can cause damage to the eyes and lungs.
If you experience any difficulties in breathing or other not usual symptoms call immediately 911.
- Masks for protection from volcanic ash: If you happen to encounter an eruption, always stay indoors and contact your accommodation for advice. They are prepared in distributing free N95 masks for protection from volcanic ash.
- Water catchment systems and volcanic emissions: If there is an eruption don't use / drink tap water and instead only drink bottled water. Volcanic emissions may contaminate these water sources, making them unsuitable for drinking or preparing food. Volcanic ash may also interfere with common water treatment methods such as filtration and chlorination, raising health risks.
- Take breaks and don't do any physical exercise that might require breathing more air that could potentially contain traces of ash.
The island of Hawaii, has two main airports, Hilo and Kona. When visiting the island for it's rainforests, waterfalls and active volcanoes the best airport to travel to is Hilo (ITO). When arriving, the airport is very small and it will take only a few minutes from plane to exit. As you arrive you will notice a tourism information desk situated in the arrivals area. They will give you handy information, maps and bus times to move around the island.
From the airport you can travel to downtown Hilo in around 25 min. Note that the bus does not operate on Sundays, and on Saturdays there are reduced services.
Scheduled times to the airport from Hilo Bus Station: 8:00am, 9:20am, 10:40am, 12:00pm, 1:20pm, 2:40pm, 4:00pm, and 5:20pm.
Local transportation around the island is very limited, if you are not renting a car, you will need to adjust the travel by the bus times which operate throughout the island.
Once in Hilo, the town is not big to walk around. However if you going to other areas, then it's essential you look at the bus times, or you will be getting a taxi back to your accommodation. Most busses stop in the evening around 7-9pm.
Note: Some busses will travel around the island via neighbourhoods and estates which increases the travel by several hours.
To check the routes and schedules please see the link below, by the official bus company Hale-On Bus.
Hilo and the surrounding area is full of natural beauty which can't be missed when visiting. The island is in fact in constant change, as the years pass, there might be new land which is formed from the advancing lava which leaves a trail of black asphalt which soon becomes fertile thanks to the rain and humidity on the island. The inhabitants and visitors must learn how to live with nature, as for the locals it's nature which provides them with the land, air, water and resources to survive.
There is a deep connection between the people and earth on the islands. Therefore when you travel and explore the islands please keep in mind not to alter the ecosystem, as it's considered with high importance to protect and respect mother nature by the locals who live and work on the island.
Everything you will see in Hawaii Island is related to nature, the changes which have affected Hilo and the Island have happened even in recent years.
✔️Tip: To be able to enjoy all the island has to offer and have a better understand on how this island is so important to the locals, it's best to organise tours, from simple walking tours or adventure-sports to the Volcano sights and cultural tours. Book with KapohoKine Adventures which offers the finest Hawaii adventure tours, volcano tours, and zipline tours.
Below you will find a few of the best things not to miss whilst on a trip in Hilo:
- Hilo Farmer's market: Located in Downtown Hilo, the Market is known as one of the best open markets in Hawaii. Each week can be a different market as the items on sale can vary from fruit, vegetables antiques and handcraft to exotic produce, ready-made meals, souvenirs, beauty products, clothing, massage therapy products or precious stones amongst other interesting items to be found.
The market offers affordable food, the majority being locally grown. You can find exotic fruit, herbs, island jams and jellies, macadamia nuts and delectable baked goods.
Get there early to shop for the best choices from the market’s more than 200 vendors. The full scale market is best seen every Wednesday and Saturday, but some vendors are there almost every day. Nearby the market you will also find souvenir shops with handcrafted items made with wood from the area.
- Pacific Tsunami Museum: established in 1994, the former Bank of Hawaii building, started with a unique mission “We believe that through education and awareness, no one should ever again die in Hawaii due to a tsunami.”
The museum serves as a living monument to the people who lost their lives in past tsunamis back in 1946 and 1960. Featured are a series of permanent exhibits that detail the history of tsunamis in the Pacific region, myths and legends about tsunamis, public safety measures in the event of a tsunami and digital material that make the visit very interesting. Located at 130 Kamehameha Avenue in downtown Hilo. It opens 10-16h Monday-Saturday at costs $8.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Located 30 miles southwest of Hilo, it's home to the Kilauea volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. The chance to witness the primal process of creation and destruction makes this park one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii and a sacred place for Native Hawaiians. Kilauea is sometimes called "the world's only drive-in volcano", you can get as close to 1 km to the Valcano and from there you can see the crater, admire the reflection of the earth's chemical reactions taking place deep below the crater and seeing smoke coming out of it which creates an amazing visual effect. The vision of Kilauea is best in the evening once the sun goes down so you can appreciate the dark glowing orange colours which evaporate from the crater. The park was founded in 1916, the Park encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. The are also 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests as well as a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since January 3rd, 1983. In 1987, UNESCO honoured the Natural Park as a World Heritage site.
✔️Tip: Visiting the park without a car is not possible, therefore it's advised to make the most of the Volcano experience by joining the Volcano evening Tour, which not only takes you to the park but provides a very in depth tour, amongst some of the activities it includes going to Kalapana, a village completely destroyed by advancing lava in 2015, trail walks as well as wine tasting and dinner which is provided. All complemented with very useful information by knowledgeable local guides. The tour lasts 7 hours and costs $130. View the Photo Gallery below for more pics.
- Wailuku River State Park: located nearby from Downtown Hilo, the park is renowned for the Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls), which has an 80-foot drop and as water falls on a sunny day, rainbows are formed in the surrounding mist. If you travel further upland along the Wailuku River, you’ll find Peepee Falls (pronounced Peh-EH Peh-EH), which feeds the famous pools known as Boiling Pots. These terraced pools bubble as if they were boiling. Note that there are no lifeguards here and these areas are not safe for swimming.
- Pahoa: Located in lower Puna district, Pahoa Village is a small "yesteryear Hawaii" town. It’s also known as the “dreadlocks capital” of the Volcano Island because there’s a large population of hippies, New Agers, and other alternative types who choose to live here in this area. Visiting Pahoa, you’ll have the unique experience of travelling really back in time and get a taste of the bohemian Puna lifestyle. There are plenty of curious shops to walk into, antiques and cafes to pass the time. If you meet some of the local punatics, they are the happiest, friendliest free spirited people on earth!
To get there, take the bus from Hilo bus station (Mo'oheau Bus Terminal). The bus must have a sign in direction to Pahoa or Kalapana and get off at Pahoa town, which takes around 1 hour or 1.5 hours depending how many stops it makes in between.
Staying in Hilo is much cheaper than other areas around Hawaii, saying that, it is still pricey to stay in Hotels close to the centre or the bay. Hotels in the area can be found with a more humble approach, informal and relaxed service. Prices can be found for a double room at $70 per night. However, there are also lots of hostels in the area near Hilo downtown which offer shared accommodation and cheaper prices. ($25-30 per night).
Alternatively staying in other areas will also drastically reduce the price, but you will need a car ideally to move around, because some accommodations can be in the middle of the rainforest literally!
💭Suggestion! One recommended Hostel for short stays is the Wild Ginger Inn Hostel. It offers basic accommodation with breakfast and Free Wifi, conveniently located in Hilo, 5 min walk to the centre. It has private rooms as well as shared and dormitory rooms.
Hilo, as a place to visit by itself is not worth staying for more than a day, specially make sure you visit by a Friday or Saturday because the rest of the week can be quite empty and shops close early. The key to stay in the area relies on the tours which are available from Hilo and the beautiful scenery and specially the Volcano Park located nearby.
When doing the tours or visiting other areas of the island then it's suggested to stay from 2 to 4 nights.
Hilo Photo Gallery 📷