Fall in Love With Hilo, Hawai’i
Palm trees, lush green plants with tropical flowers, and beautiful blue water with amazing sunsets. That is my description of Hilo, Hawai’i, when people ask me what it looks like. Hilo was the second stop on our Hawaiian Airlines trip, and I couldn’t have been happier.
I’ve been to Hilo twice, and both times I stayed at the same hotel: the iconic Hilo Hawaiian Hotel located right on Hilo Bay, where guests can get a front row seat to the sun setting over Coconut Island and Mauna Kea. The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel’s rooms have been renovated recently. They are comfortable and have a balcony perfect for relaxing on while taking in the morning and evening views.
Dining at the hotel is pretty simple. The Queen’s Court Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the Wai’oli Lounge and iCafé has a simple café menu for lunch and dinner. The hotel is about 10 minutes from downtown Hilo and is exactly what guests are looking for when trying to capture that laid back feeling of the Big Island—comfortable rooms, a friendly staff, and easy access to local attractions.
Downtown Hilo is full of things to do. Everyone must visit the Hilo Farmers Market, where local farmers bring fresh fruits and vegetables and shoppers can either indulge for an easy lunch or buy food to stock up on for dinner. Shop the downtown area full of boutiques and art stores, eat lunch at a local restaurant, and be sure to check out the incredible wearable art at the Sig Zane store. Sig Zane is a local artist, surfer, clothing designer, and all-around cool guy. He and his son are the designers of the beautiful artwork passengers see on the livery of the Hawaiian Airlines’ ‘Ohana by Hawaiian planes.
Farther out from downtown Hilo is Waipi’o Valley, a deep valley accessible by hiking or riding a four-wheel-drive vehicle. This is truly a beautiful place. There are people who live in the bottom of the valley, but they are without electricity or running water. If that is the lifestyle you’re into, it’s not a bad view everyday.
Visitors to the area can go on a tour of the valley rim with RideTheRim Tours, which is what we did. Each person 13 years of age and older can ride his or her own ATV; younger guests or those who don’t feel comfortable alone on an ATV can ride with a guide in a four-wheel Ranger. It’s great fun, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a little muddy and wet.
Hilo is just a part of the incredibly beautiful island of Hawai’i. There is much more to see, including Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the entire west side of the island where the landscape is completely different than what you find in Hilo. On the drive from coast to coast you will have the opportunity to see so much. There are lots of stops to see waterfalls and lava flow and get good local eats.
I hope you get to visit soon and fall in love with Hawai’i the way I do every time I return.