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Hilo Travel Guide: Things to Do and Where to Eat on the Big Island

Hilo Travel Guide: Things to Do and Where to Eat on the Big Island

Welcome to Hilo, Hawaii! This Hilo Travel Guide is the go-to resource for the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii from waterfalls to where to shop and support locally. We’ve got where to eat in Hilo, tour recommendations and what to add to your Hilo itinerary.

From the beaches to the famous farmers market, you’re going to love you’re time in this cool, beautiful (and small) city. Many people are coming to Hilo so they can have a home base while visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but it’s also a wonderful place to stay while you explore the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island. We partnered with our friends at the SCP Hilo Hotel, our favorite place to stay, so share local recommendations for where to eat, shop and explore around Hilo.

As you explore this special city and island, you’ll enjoy the best of what the community has to offer. Supporting local friends and family (our adopted ohana), this Hilo travel guide will provide you with recommendations for where to eat, where to shop, and wonderful experiences to elevate your time here.

This Hilo Travel Guide is the go-to resource for the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii from waterfalls to where to shop and support locally. Where to eat in Hilo, tour recommendations and what to add to your Hilo itinerary.

Things to Do in Hilo

The Kona Coast may be famous for its coffee and snorkeling, but there are so many things to do in Hilo, including the nature and culture you find on the other side of the island. You’ll enjoy your time exploring the Hamakua Coast (Hilo side) and visiting the volcanoes on the Big Island.

If you need some helpful tips and want to listen instead of read, we have several Hawaii podcast episodes dedicated to the Big Island. We cover things to do, the layout of the island and tips for visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Podcast Episode all About Hilo and the Hamakua Coast

I wouldn’t mind living in Hilo or on the Hamakua Coast at all, but since I know that’s not happening for us anytime soon, we’ve got a podcast episode to talk about it. Give a listen to hear all about what we enjoy from Hilo to the Waipio Valley.

Hilo Sightseeing

Sightseeing and experiencing all that Hilo has to offer is easy when you do a little planning, but even if you haven’t built your own Big Island itinerary and you’re just rolling with it, you can make the most of every minute. Here are some of the best things to do in Hilo, both directly in town and very nearby.

Waterfalls to Visit Near Hilo

Hawaii is known for beautiful waterfalls, but most of them are an epic hike to get to, like Waipoo Falls or Hanakapiai Falls on Kauai or Waimea Falls on Oahu, but Hilo actually has several waterfalls very close to town. These falls are beautiful and make for some of the best things to do in Hilo. Check out our guide to (mostly) free activities on the Big Island for even more picks.

  • Rainbow Falls – easy viewpoint, a few minutes from town
  • Akaka Falls – State Park, entry fee per person – the BEST waterfall near Hilo
  • Kulaniapia Falls – privately owned, day pass can be purchased in advance and you can swim here!
Kelly and Rob Swimming at Kulaniapia Falls Hilo Big Island Hawaii 2

Public Parks to Enjoy in Hilo

Since it’s not a huge city, Hilo isn’t abounding with public parks and squares like San Diego or New York City, but it does have a few that are wonderful to stroll through or relax at. If you’re staying directly in Hilo, any of these parks is an easy walk or bike ride.

  • Liliuokalani Gardens
  • Coconut Island
  • Wailoa State Recreation Area
  • Bayfront Park
Japanese Garden at Liliʻuokalani Gardens Hilo Big Island Hawaii 5

Hilo Museums to Visit

I love to visit Hilo so much, but it’s really not a city built with a focus on tourism. Yes, there are lots of great things to do in Hilo, but it’s not chalked full of museums and luaus like Oahu, and it’s not loaded with resorts like Maui. Hilo is quiet and is the heart of Hawaiian life BUT it’s got a few cool museums that are great for getting a taste of both science and Hawaiian history.

Lyman Museum of Hawaiian Culture – 808 935-5021

The Lyman Museum & Mission House is a historic museum located in Hilo, Hawaii that showcases the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands. The museum is housed in the former home of American missionaries David and Sarah Lyman, who lived in Hilo in the late 19th century. The museum features exhibits on the history of the Hawaiian Islands, including geology, natural history, cultural artifacts, and the life and work of the Lymans.

The museum also houses a research library and a unique collection of Hawaiian stamps and coins. Visitors can also take a tour of the Mission House, which has been restored to its original condition and serves as a living history museum that provides a glimpse into the life and work of the Lymans. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking to learn more about the Hawaiian Islands, the Lyman Museum & Mission House is a must-visit museum in Hilo.

  • 276 Haili St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon – Fri 10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Pacific Tsunami Museum – 808 935-0926

The Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hilo, Hawaii is dedicated to educating the public about the impact of tsunamis on the Hawaiian Islands and promoting preparedness for future events. The museum features interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, and first-hand accounts of past tsunamis, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the science behind tsunamis and the measures that can be taken to reduce their impact.

The museum also serves as a memorial to those who have lost their lives in tsunamis, with a dedicated memorial wall and memorial garden. Whether you’re a resident of Hilo or just visiting, the Pacific Tsunami Museum is a valuable resource for learning about the dangers of tsunamis and how to stay safe in the event of a future tsunami.

  • 130 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tue – Wed 10:00 am – 1:30 pm, Sat 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Mokupāpapa Discovery Center – 808 498-4709

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, located in the remote northwestern area of the Hawaiian Islands, with its education center located in Hilo: the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center. The monument covers over 140,000 square miles of coral reefs, deep-sea habitats, and pelagic environments, and is home to amazing marine life, including over 7,000 species of fish and other animals.

In addition to its ecological significance and educating visitors, Papahanaumokuakea is also of cultural importance to the Hawaiian people, who have a long history of stewardship of the area. The monument is also a hub of scientific knowledge, with ongoing research on the ocean’s role in climate, the dynamics of coral reefs, and the biology and evolution of marine life.

  • 76 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues – Sat 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Imiloa Astronomy Center – science – 808 932-8901

The Imiloa Astronomy Center is one of the best things to do in Hilo with kids. It is a world-class educational facility that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands and the cutting-edge scientific research taking place at Mauna Kea Observatory. The center features interactive exhibits, a planetarium with rotating programs, and a research center, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the cosmos and the out-of-this-world research being conducted in astronomy.

NOTE: this is NOT up on Mauna Kea but actually in Hilo and is a part of the University of Hawaii.

  • 600 Imiloa Pl, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sun 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most remarkable sights to see in the Hawaiian Islands. From craters and lava to bird watching and hiking, visiting Kilauea and Mauna Loa is a great addition to a visit to Hilo and the Big Island. Here are some easy things to do in the park that really show the beauty and natural wonders. And if you’ve visited Haleakala National Park on Maui, you’ll be stunned to see how different Hawaii Volcanoes is in comparison.

Get our Hawaii Volcanoes Ebook for Kindle here!

Here are the easiest things to do on a day trip into the National Park from Hilo:

  • Follow Crater Rim Drive stopping at the many Kilauea viewpoints
  • Walk the Steaming Bluff or Sulfur Banks Trails
  • Do the easy Thurston Lava Tube walk in the rainforest area
  • Drive Chain of Craters Road for viewpoints and petroglyphs
  • Easy hike through the lava flows to the Holei Sea Arch viewpoint
  • Stop into Volcano House (the lodge) for a meal or drink overlooking Kilauea
Rob Taylor in Steam at Steaming Bluffs Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island 1

If you can, also visit Hawaii Volcanoes at night for lava glow. During active eruptions, striking views of flowing lava and glowing steam make for a one-of-a-kind experience.

The main overlooks are great for lava glow, but the best view is from the hike to Keanakako’i Overlook from the desolation parking area.

Get your National Parks Pass here!

Lava Glow at Keanakako’i Overlook Trail Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island 9

Beaches to Visit Around Hilo

Hilo offers some wonderful beaches for visitors. A walk, bike ride or short drive will bring you to beautiful stretches of sand or rocky coves, ideal for swimming, snorkeling or paddling.

Top pick: Reeds Bay Beach both for relaxing and enjoying the water, swimming or snorkeling. It’s got plenty of parking, the waves are small and it’s got a good combination of swimming and snorkeling space. And there’s sand!

  • Carlsmith Beach Park – 1815 Kalanianaole Ave
  • Richardson beach park – 2355 Kalanianaole Ave
  • Onekahakaha Beach Park – 74 Onekahakaha Rd.
  • Honolii (surf/water sports) – 180 Kahoa St
  • Coconut Island – 77 Keliipio Place at Liliuokalani Gardens
  • Reeds Bay (Across from SCP Hilo Hotel) – 225 Banyan Drive
  • Bayfront Park – at Wailoa State Recreation Area

Public Swimming Pools:

  • Kawamoto Pool (Lap Swim) – 808 961-8698; 260 Kalanikoa Street, Hilo Hawaii 96720
  • Pahoa Pool (Lap Swim) – 808 965-2700; 15-2910 Kuuhome Street, Pahoa Hawaii 96778
Chris Taylor SUP at Reeds Bay Beach Hilo Big Island Hawaii 9

Kona Coast Beaches (day trip to west side)

Taking a day trip or adding onto your time on the Big Island, the Kona Coast also offers beautiful beaches and snorkeling. You can drive to the Kona Coast either via the Saddle Road past Mauna Kea, the North Shore route past the Waipio Valley, or along the South Shore.

Truthfully, if you’re going to the Kona Coast for just a day you will kick yourself. If you are able to have at least two days on the Kona Coast, you’ll be glad you did. Check out our comprehensive Big Island Itinerary for what we think is an ideal plan.

And now, if you’re heading to the Kona Coast for an epic day of beaches and snorkeling, leave before the sun is up and pick a few of these great beaches:

  • A Bay / Anaehoomalu Beach Park, Puako Hawaii 96738
  • Hapuna Beach State Park, Old Puako Road, Kamuela Hawaii 96743
  • Spencer’s Beach Park, 62-3461 Kawaihai Road, Kamuela Hawaii 96743
  • Kealakekua Bay, 82-6099 Puuhonua Beach Road, Kealakekua Hawaii 96750 **BEST SNORKELING
  • Ho’okena Beach Park, 76-4322 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook Hawaii 96704
  • Mauna Kea Beach, 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Kohala Coast Hawaii 96743
  • 69’s / Waialea Beach in Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Old Puako Road, Waimea Hawaii 96743
  • Makalawena Beach, South Highway 19, Between mile markers 90 & 91, 25 minute hike in at end of road
  • Kiholo Bay, 71-1890 Queen Kaahamanu HWY, Kailua-Kona Hawaii 96740 **MY FAVORITE
  • Kua Bay/ Maniniowali Beach, Located in between mile marker 88 & 89, north off Queen Kaahamanu Highway, Kailua-Kona Hawaii 96740
  • Magic Sands Beach, 77-6452 Ali Drive, Kailua-Kona Hawaii 96740
  • Kahaluu Beach Park, 78-6702 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona Hawaii 96739 **MOST KID FRIENDLY w/ FACILITIES

Bonus: if you’re spending the night on the Kona side or don’t mind driving back to Hilo in the dark, be sure to book a tour for snorkeling with manta rays. This is our favorite activity on the Big Island and we do it with each visit.

Lava Rock Tidepools at Kahalu’u Beach Park Kailua Kona Big Island Hawaii 2

Family Friendly Things to Do in Hilo

There are plenty of family friendly things to do in Hilo and the surrounding area. Whether you want to do a farm tour or go horseback riding, the Big Island has wonderful options.

Farm Tours Near Hilo

Farm tours are some of our favorite things to do around Hilo because you’ll get to experience everything from macadamia nuts to cacao and coffee. When you’re out taking part in agritourism on the Big Island, be sure to also visit local farm stands or pop into the farmers markets. This is one of the best ways to support locally when you visit Hawaii.

Lavaloha Chocolate Farm – great tours about cacao and chocolate making – 808 987-3649

This is one of the best farm tours I’ve done anywhere in the world. Visiting Lavaloha Chocolate Farm shows you the whole process of creating chocolate of all sorts. Do the tram tour with a guide and you’ll get to actually pick cacao from the trees, eat it raw in the orchard, see the drying and processing, and then try TONS of chocolate types. We strongly recommend this farm tour. It’s one of the best things to do in Hilo, and the Hawaiian Islands in general.

  • 1820 Amauulu Road, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Inside of Cacao bean on Tree to Chocolate Tour at Lavaloha Cacao Farm Hilo Big Island Hawaii 1

O.K. Farms – working farm – 808 934-9200

OK Farms offers tours or you can just stop by. It’s located bear Kulaniapia Falls and Lavaloha Cacao Farm. This is one of the most kid-friendly farm options.

  • 1570 Maikalani St. Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Luxury Sightseeing from Hilo: Helicopter Flight

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters – scenic flights – 808 961-5600

We haven’t personally done a helicopter flight here on the Big Island, but we had an astounding experience doing the doors-off helicopter around Kauai. Why we’ve selected Blue Hawaiian as our Hilo helicopter recommendation is because they are both locally owned AND they actually have wheelchair accessible helicopter options, which is rare.

  • Blue Hawaiian Helicopters depart from Hilo International Airport

Paradise Helicopters Hilo – Doors-off Flight

I mentioned that we did a doors-off helicopter on Kauai and it was amazing. There is an option for that here in Hilo too. The coolest thing about doing doors-off here is that you get to fly over Kilauea and Hawaii Volcanoes. Between the lava and the rainforest, this is on my bucket list of Hawaii experiences.

  • Paradise Helicopters depart from Hilo International Airport

More Family Friendly Things to Do in Hilo

More picks for family friendly things to do in Hilo can be found below. Because Hilo is the rainiest city in the USA, you may need to be flexible with your plans, so always check the weather before heading out for the day, especially if you have a farm visit on your schedule.

Hilo Axe Lounge/Putt Putt Golf/Rage Room – 808 498-0410

  • 301 Keawe St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tue-Sat 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm Fri/Sat to 11:00 pm

Lili House Farm – 808 640-6325

  • 19-4535 Amaumau Rd, Mountain View, HI 96771

Honomu Goat Dairy – 808 785-5546

  • 28-257 Akaka Falls Rd. Honomu, HI 96728

Panaewa Zoo 808 959-9223

  • 800 Stainback Hwy, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 10am-3pm – Admission to the Panaewa Zoo is FREE!

Recommended Tours from Hilo

One of the best ways to experience Hawaii is to go out with a local guide, so consider a tour to see Hilo and the rest of the Big Island. Check out all of the many options for tours around the Hilo area here!

Volcano Tours

Hilo + Volcano Adventure with Mauka Makai Adventures

  • 5.5 hr guided group tour – Highlights of Hilo & Best of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Book it here!

Evening Volcano Hike Hilo Departure Tour with Kapohokine Adventures

  • 7 hr guided group tour – Drive from Hilo to Puna, stop at Mackenzie State Park – Isaac Hale Beach Park – See Fissure 8 and boat ramp at Pohoiki. Drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hike in park 2 mile round trip to Kilauea Caldera floor. Deli picnic included. Book it here!
Chris Taylor at Thurston Lava Tube Hike Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 2


Mauna Kea Stellar Tour with Kapohokine Adventures

  • 7 hr guided group tour – Drive Hilo to Rainbow Falls & Boiling Pots, visit Kaumana Caves, drive over Saddle Road to Mauna Kea for stargazing. Tour provides their own telescopes for viewing. Kona coffee, hot chocolate and delicious dessert provided. Book it here!


Nighttime Starry Sky in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii 2

Adventure Tours Out of Hilo

The following tours may vary depending on the season, the weather and what all is happening on the Big Island. Also, remember that prices may change, so please check with each operator for current pricing. The costs noted are for a general guide to what the expenses may be, not a solid rate quote.

Fishing Charter

Private Deep Sea Big Game Fishing Charter, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • 4 hr – $799 / 6 hr – $999 / 8 hr – $1299
  • 4 guest maximum. Ages 12 and up, under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Includes fishing gear, equipment, beverages and snacks. Guests can bring their own lunch. Cleaning and filleting fish is possible for extra charge. *sustainable fishing charter “eat only what you catch, catch only what you eat and leave the rest to the sea!”

Scuba Diving Tours

All SCUBA diving tours in Hilo that we’re recommending are done through Hilo Ocean Adventures. We’ve used them to get out on the water in Hilo and they are really great people.

  • Scuba Certification/Refresher – Refresher- 1.5 hrs – $119 + tax per person / Gear Rental $45+ tax
  • Intro Scuba Shore Scuba Diving Experience – 4-5 hr total (45 min classroom, 45 pool skills, 45 min ocean dive) – $185 + tax per person
  • Intro to scuba diving, ages 15 and up, under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Intro 2 – Tank Boat Scuba Dive

  • 6 hr total ( 30 min classroom, 30 min pool skills, 2 open water dives off boat) – $ 299 + tax per person
  • Intro to scuba diving, ages 15 and up, under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

2 Tank Boat Dive – Sea Turtle Cove & Reef Dive

  • 4 hr tour – Diver $189 + tax / Snorkel $129 + tax / Gear Rental $45 + tax
  • Experienced divers will have a 2 tank dive, ride along guests will snorkel. Depart Wailoa Boat Harbor on a 28 ft ocean vessel, dive and explore coral reef. * Ages 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

1 Tank Shore Dive – Sea Turtle Cove

  • 3 hr tour – Diver $129 + tax/ Gear Rental – $45 + tax / Add 2nd Tank -$45 + tax
  • Experienced divers will meet at HOA shop and take a beach cruise to dive site. * Ages 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Certified Night Shore Dive

  • 3 hr tour – $139 + tax per person / Gear Rental $45 + tax
  • Experienced divers will explore underwater by moonlight. * Ages 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Kayak/SUP Tours

Kayaking and SUP around Hilo is really fun, and there are places you can do it on your own, but considering tides and weather, going with a guide is highly recommended. It’s one of the best things to do in Hilo either way.

Historic Hilo Bay/Waterfall by Kayak Tour, Kapohokine Adventures

  • 2-3 hrs fully guided kayak or paddleboard tour in Hilo Bay
  • 2hr group tour – $152 +tax, light snacks and water provided.
  • 3hr private tour: $299 up to 2 guests, lunch and refreshments provided. – $70 each additional person

Wailoa River to King Kamehameha Statue Kayak Adventure, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • 2 hr guided tour – $92 +tax single kayak or SUP/ $184 + tax double kayak
  • Good for beginners. Cruise along Wailoa River to Hilo Bay.

Hilo Bay & Coconut Island Kayak Tour, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • 2 hr guided tour – $92 +tax single kayak / $184 + tax double kayak
  • Kayak through Hilo Bay to Coconut Island

Kayak + Swim in the Umauma River, Umauma Experience

  • 2-3 hrs – $85 + tax ADULT / $75 + tax CHILD
  • Swim & kayak in a private section of the Umauma River. Includes catered lunch at a private pavilion
Statue of King Kamehameha in Wailoa State Recreation Area Hilo Big Island Hawaii 1

Culture and Nature Tours

Getting out onto the water AND learning about the Big Island is a wonderful way to experience Hilo. These tours combine a variety of things to do for the best taste of Hilo history and nature.

Hamakua Coast Historical Hawai’i Afternoon Cruises, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • 2 hr guided tour by boat – $129 + tax per person
  • Learn about the history of Hilo’s sugar plantation era & tsunami history, view waterfalls and sea cliffs from the ocean.

Hilo Snorkeling Tours from Beach or Boat, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • from $119 + tax ADULT per person
  • Leave Wailoa Harbor head out past Hilo breakwall, snorkel in coral reef coves, or snorkel at black sand beaches of the Big Island

Humpback Whale Exploration, Hilo Ocean Adventures

  • 2 hr intimate small group experience (limit 6 guests) – $119 +tax per person
  • *Available Dec-April
Sea Turtles in Freshwater Spring Pond on Rieds Bay Hilo Big Island Hawaii 2

Horseback Riding Tours

I love riding horses (I used to be a trail guide!) and Hawaii is one of the most epic and lush places to ride. There aren’t many places that you can ride on the Big Island, but there are a few local guides that can help you have a totally different sort of Hawaiian adventure. Horseback riding in the Waipi’o Valley is on my Hawaii bucket list and is one of the most unique things to do when you visit Hilo.

Waipi’o on Horseback Tours

  • 3 hr tour – $150 + tax per person (Adult and Child)
  • Morning or Afternoon Horseback ride through the beautiful Waipi’o Valley. Guests meet at the WOH Ranch and are driven down to the stables where you can saddle up for an epic ride through this sacred valley.

Na’alapa Stables – based in Waimea

  • Horseback Riding Tours in Waipi’o Valley or Kahua Ranch
  • 1.5 hr – $90 + tax per person/ 2.5 hr $110 + tax per person (Ages: 8yrs to 70 yrs)
  • Minimum 2 Riders, Maximum 11 Riders. Morning or Afternoon Tours available

Wailea Horseback Adventures with The Umauma Experience

  • 2.5 hrs – $145 + tax per person (ages 8 and up, max wt 225 lbs.)
  • Horseback ride through open pasture & tropical forest, waterfall swim & picnic (lunch available to order or can bring your own) great for all levels of experience.

Zipline and ATV Tours

Umauma Falls Zipline Tours with The Umauma Experience

  • 2-3 hr tour – $209 + tax ADULT / $199 + tax CHILD
  • 2 miles of zip lining for the whole family on 9 longlines, over 14 rushing waterfalls, suspension bridges, and treetops.

Zip and Dip with The Umauma Experience

  • 2-3 hr tour – $294 + tax ADULT / $274 + tax CHILD
  • Experience all 9 zip lines, followed by swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and relaxing in our private area of the Umauma River. Lunch is included.

ATV Tours with The Umauma Experience

  • 1.5 hr tour over 5.5 mile course – $212 + tax per person
  • 4×4 ATVs or Side x Side UTVs (2-seat or 4-seat). Good for all skill levels. Quick stop for snack and option to take a dip at a private waterfall and pond.

Where to Eat in Hilo

There are many wonderful restaurants and places to eat around Hilo. Whether you’re looking for a casual breakfast or want to have a fine dining night on the town, Hilo has it all! As you look through our breakfast recommendations in Hilo, you’ll see suggestions of what each is known for. Menus can always change, but with these picks you won’t go wrong.

Great Hilo Breakfast Spots

Breakfast is many visitors’ favorite meal in Hilo, and for great reasons. From huapia to breakfast burgers, you’ll not go wrong as you start each day in Hilo with a delicious breakfast.

Paul’s Place – waffles/lox and bagels/eggs benedict – 808 280 8646

  • 132 Punahoa St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues, Wed, Fri & Sat: 7:30-1:30

Don’s Grill – mahi and eggs/comfort food/hula pie – 808 935 9099

  • 485 Hinano St. Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sun 10:30am-8:00pm

Ken’s House of Pancakes – 808 935-8711

  • 1730 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Daily 6:00 am -9:00 pm

Kuhio Grille – French toast – 808 959 2336

  • 80 Pauahi Street Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri –9am-7:30pm/ Sat & Sun: 8-7:30pm

Kojis Bento Corner – breakfast burger – 808 935-1417

  • 52 Ponahawai St Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri: 7am-2pm, Sat: 9am-2pm

Hawaiian Style Cafe – haupia pancakes – 808 969-9265

  • 681 Manono Street STE #101 Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri: 7am-2pm

Tin Shack Bakery – Okinawan sweet potato benedict – 808-965-9659

  • 15-1500 Akeakamai Loop, Pāhoa, HI 96778
  • Mon- Sat: 7am-3pm

Lunch in Hilo

Something wonderful about lunchtime in Hilo is that you will find incredible local restaurants offering the best of island grown produce and freshly caught seafood. Our picks for this Hilo travel guide highlight some of the unusual local dishes, including Japanese influenced meals.

Poke Market – shiitake salmon/poke parfait & sushi cakes – 808-961-5915 *sells out early can call to order or order online

  • 41 Waianuenue Ave
  • Mon-Sat 10am-3pm

Mohala’s Bayfront Fish and Chips – captain’s platter for 2/lilikoi honey mustard – 808-300-9026

  • 50 Waianuenue Ave Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon – Thurs 10:30am-6:30pm fri- sun 1030- 830

Hilo Lunch Shop – grab a box and head to the beach – 808-935-8273

  • 421 Kalanikoa St # 101, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sat: 10:30am- 6:30pm

Keaukaha General Store – laulau bento/pastele stew plate – 808-969-1169

  • 11 Silva St Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat: 6:30am – 7:00 pm Sun: 6:30-5:00 pm

Puka Puka Kitchen – saffron rice – 808-933-2121

  • 270 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues – Fri 1030 am- 2:30pm

Aloha Mondays *take out only/ weekly changing menu – 808-747-1873

  • 1348 Kilauea Ave. Hilo HI 96720
  • Tues-Fri: 11am-6pm
Poke and Taro Chips from Kawaihae Marketplace Northern Kona Coast Big Island Hawaii 1

Dinner Spots in Hilo

Dinner in Hilo is where the food really shines. Hawaiian cuisine is a delicious blend of influences from around the islands and around the world.

Kaleo’s Hawaii – prime rib – 808-965-5600

  • 15-2969 Pahoa Village Rd, Pāhoa, HI 96778
  • Sun-Sat: 11:30am-9:00 pm

Kenichi’s – kalbi/boneless Korean chicken/salmon – 808-969-1776

  • 684 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Thur: 10-7/ Fri-Sat: 10-8:00 pm

Jackie Rey’s – Lemongrass Caesar/ Kalua Pig Rolls / Lilikoi martini – 808 327-0209

  • 75-5995 Kuakini Hwy STE 1, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
  • Everyday 4-8:30 pm / happy hour 4-5:00 pm

Hilo Bay Café – crabcake salad – 808-935-4939

  • 123 Lihiwai St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sat 11AM–2PM, 5–8:30 pm

The Seaside Restaurant – sushi/Chinese steamed fish/oyster shooters – 808-935-8825

  • 1790 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sun 4pm-8:00 pm

Café Pesto Hilo Bay – Thai shrimp pizza – 808-969-6640

  • 308 Kamehameha Ave #101, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 11:00am -8:00 pm

Miyo’s – soft shell crab/tempura/miso butterfish – 808-935-2273

  • 564 Hinano St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 11-2pm, 4:30-8:00 pm

Moon & Turtle – seasonal, fresh, rotating menu – 808-961-0599

  • 51 Kalakaua St. Hilo HI 96720
  • Tue-Sat 5:30-9:00 pm
Exterior of Jackie Reys Ohana Grille Hilo Big Island Hawaii 1

Asian Restaurants in Hilo

With so many wonderful Asian influences on the local cuisine, the flavors of Hilo reflect the diverse community here. You’ll find a very wide variety here!

New Saigon Vietnamese – beef stew pho – 808 935-4564

  • 96 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-sat 10:30-7:00 pm

Ebisuya – sushi – 808 961-6840

  • 179 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-sat: 4:30-8:30 pm

New Chiang Mai – Thai/mango sticky rice – 808 969-3777

  • 2870, 110 Kalakaua St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Thur- 11-8:30 / Fri-Sat 11-9 / Sun 430-9:00 pm

Hilo Rice Noodle – Vietnamese – 808 981-5841

  • 1990 Kinoole St #110, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 10-8:30 pm

Takenoko -very authentic, high end sushi – 808 933-3939

  • 578 Hinano St, Hilo, HI 96720

*By appointment only, need to book in advance

Yoon’s – Korean food – 808 969-9096

  • 750 Kinoole St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon- Sat : 10-8:00 pm

Mom’s – Japanese – (808)969-1000

  • 190 Keawe at. Hilo HI 96720
  • Mon-sat 11-2, 4:30-8:30pm

Healthy Food Choices in Hilo

There are so many farms here on the Big Island that sourcing wonderful ingredients for fresh, healthy food is easy. These healthy picks will energize you for exploring all around Hilo.

Vibe Cafe – jackfruit pulled pork nachos – 808 933-3443

  • 750 Kanoelehua Ave Suite 101, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 9:00 am-8:00 pm

Sweet Cane Café – smoothies/sugar cane juice – 808 934 0002

  • 48 Kamana St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 9:00 am-4:00 pm

Loved by the Sun – fresh juices – 808 333 5554

  • 12 Furneaux Ln, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sat 10:00 am-2:00 pm

Liquid Life – smoothies/juices – 808 333 5538

  • 697 Manono St Suite 101A, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 8-5 / Sat 10-5:00 pm

Booch Bar – kombucha on tap – 808 498 4779

  • 110 Keawe St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 8-8:00 pm

Hilo Food Trucks to Try

Food trucks are a great way to get the tastes of Hilo on a budget (and sometimes not). Check out these local food truck picks while you’re on the go around Hilo. We found a ton of food trucks on Oahu, but Hilo really takes the cake with these being some of the best places to eat.

Baliz food wagon – Filipino food – @balizfoodwagon on IG

  • Tuesdays in front of Tokunagas
  • 619 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720

Bite the Eye – Korean dip ahi plate – @bitetheeye on IG

  • Old Sears parking lot
  • 111 E Puainako St, Hilo, HI 96720

Poke N Sides – poke bowls – 808 238-0336

  • in Hilo Farmers Market
  • Tues-Thurs: 10-3, Fri: 9-6:00 pm

Le Yellow Sub – tofu bahn mi/as seen on food network with Guy Fieri – 808-937-0911

  • 213 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Wed 10:30-4:00 pm

Tabaraka – Lebanese food – 808-825-7003

  • 272 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sat 11-7:30 pm

Ou’s Thai Food – green papaya salad/avocado rolls

  • in Hilo Farmers Market @ 57 Mamo St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed & Sat: 8-3:00 pm

Poi balls Hawaii food truck – @poiballshawaii on IG

  • 639 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720
Haleiwa Food Trucks North Shore Oahu 2

Kona Coffee and Donuts in Hilo

Whether it’s Kona coffee or beans from around the world, Hilo is not short of coffee shops and donuts to go with them. Whenever you see malasadas you need to get one. They are Hawaiian donut balls that are often filled or glazed with tropical flavors. So delicious!

Coffee Cove at Keaukaha General Store – espresso/smoothie/acai bowls – 808 969-1169

  • 11 Silva St. Hilo HI 96720
  • Everyday 10-5:00 pm

Just Cruisin’ Coffee – pesto chicken sandwich – 808 934-7444

  • 835 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 5:30-9:00 pm

Puna Chocolate – freshly made chocolate/drinks – 808 489-9899

  • 277 Keawe St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 7-8/Sun 8-7:00 pm

Papa’a Palaloa Bakery – drip coffee/scones – 808 935-5700

  • 187 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-sat 7-2:00 pm

Popover – fancy donuts – 808 935-7874

  • 399 E Kawili St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-sun 6-2:00 pm

On the way to Kona: Punalu’u Bake Shop – sweet bread/malasadas – 808 366-3501

  • HI-11, Naalehu, HI 96772
  • Sun-Sat 8:30-5:00 pm
Malasadas at Punaluu Bake Shop Big Island Hawaii 3

Sweet Treats to Eat in Hilo

Hilo has some of the greatest dessert creators in the Hawaiian Islands. From homemade mochi to shave ice, there’s something sweet for every taste.

2 Ladies Kitchen – mochi – 808 961-4766

  • 274 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sat 10-4:00 pm

Short N Sweet – croissants/baked goods – 808 935 4446

  • 374 Kinoole St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sat 8-2:00 pm

Kozmic Cones – nutty cone/orbit – 808 935-6311

  • 317 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tues-Sat 7:00-9:00 pm

Kula Shave Ice – all natural homemade syrups / acai+poi bowls – 808 747-5574

  • 57 Mamo St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sat 10-530, Sun-Tues 11-5:30 pm

Lava Scones – cinnamon rolls – 808 723-9315

  • 619 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720 (when in Hilo)

Sugar Coast Candy – self serve candies and treats – 808 935-6960

  • 274 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Tues, Thur-Fri 10-7/ Wed & Sat 9-7/ Sun 10-5:00 pm

Makani’s Magic Pineapple Shack – Ube ice cream / Unicone / Acai bowls – 808 935-8454

  • 54 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Tue – Sun 10:30-4:30 pm
Haupia and Soursop Kula Shaved Ice Hilo Famers Market Big Island Hawaii 1

Hilo Happy Hours

Happy hour in Hilo can bring you to any number of fun places. From classy lilikoi martinis to staying out playing pool, there are lots of great options in Hilo.

The Temple Bar – craft beer/wine bar with good pupus – 808 491-2337

  • 64 Keawe St Front 102, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 11-10:00 pm / happy hour 2-5:00 pm

Ola Brew – house burger & dragon fruit hard cider – 808 731-0917

  • 1177 Kilauea Ave., Hilo, HI, 96740
  • M-Th 1130-10 / Fri-Sat 1130-11pm / Sun 1130-8:00 pm

Jackie Rey’s – Lemongrass Caesar/ Kalua Pig Rolls / Lilikoi martini – 808 327-0209

  • 75-5995 Kuakini Hwy STE 1, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
  • Everyday 4-8:30 pm / happy hour 4-5:00 pm

Hula Hula’s – lilikoi mule & frozen mo’o – 808 932-4545

  • 93 Banyan Dr, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Everyday 12:00-8:00 pm

Peggy’s Lounge – free pupus with drink orders – 808 935-7552

  • 760 Piilani St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 12pm-2:00 am/sat 11:30-2:00 am

Hilo Town Tavern – good pizza / pool tables – 808 935-2171

  • 168 Keawe st., Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sun 11:30 am – 2:00 am

Volcano Winery – Locally Made Wines/Wine Tasting – 808 967-7772

  • 35 Pii Mauna Dr, Volcano, HI 96785
  • Everyday 10am -5:30pm
Lilikoi Martini at Jackie Reys Ohana Grill Hilo Big Island Hawaii 1

Shopping in Hilo

Between local craftsmen and the daily necessities, Hilo has everything you might need during your visit. Whether you are looking for souvenirs or need a fresh look, these shops are locally owned and operated, supporting the local Hilo community.

In addition to these local stores, don’t forget about the farmers markets, both for fresh produce and locally made goods.

Chris Taylor at Fruit Stand at Hilo Farmers Market Big Island Hawaii 1

Hawaiian Craftsmanship Shops

Hawaiian crafts, from carved wood to handmade jewelry and clothing, are wonderful items to bring home from the Islands, particularly as they help to support the local community.

Hana Hou – lauhala papale/Hawaiian attire/jewelry/earth friendly home goods – 808 935-4555

  • 160 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 10-4:00 pm / Sat 10-3:00 pm

The Most Irresistible Shop – unique local Hawaiian gifts / toys / cards – 808 935-9644

  • 256 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Sat 10:30-4

RK Woods Gallery – woodworking / handcrafted décor & furniture – 808 959-4060

  • 104 Keawe St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sat 11-2:00 pm, Fri until 7:30 pm

Kanahele Jewelers – handmade Hawaiian jewelry – 808 960-8041

  • 224 Kamehameha Ave Suite 101, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 11-4:00 pm

Aloha Grown – casual attire – 808 933-1334

  • 224 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 10-5:00 pm / Sat 9-5:00 pm

Sig Zane / Paliku Surf – Authentic Aloha Shirts/Mu’u/Surf Shorts/T-shirts – 808 935-7077

  • 122 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Wed-Sat 10-12:45 pm, 2-4:00 pm

Necessities and Gear Shops in Hilo

Of course when you’re in Hilo, you may need some necessities, groceries and snacks. Shopping locally and supporting the community that makes Hilo so special, find whatever you may need here in Hilo.

Crib – baby / child goods from local companies – 808 339-7515

  • Manono Marketplace – 578 Hinano St #105, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 10-4:30 pm /Sat 10-2:00 pm

O.K. Farms – local fruits / veggies / coffee – 808 934-9200

  • 1570 Maikalani St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 9-4

Locavore Store – local produce / meats / beauty and skin care – 808 965 2372

  • 60 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 9-6:00 pm/ Weekends 9-5:00 pm

S. Tokunaga Store -Fishing / Ocean / Outdoor Equipment – 808 935-6965

  • 619 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720
  • Mon-Fri 8-5:00 pm /Sat 8-4:00 pm

Hilo Bottle Shop – beer and wine – 808 769-3306

  • 340 Kilauea Ave, Hilo hi 96720
  • Tues-Sat 12:00 pm-7:00 pm

Wow! So that’s just about everything I can possibly share about Hilo and how to have a great visit. This travel guide was put together with our friends from the SCP Hilo Hotel (our favorite place to stay!

If you have any questions about visiting Hilo or the Big Island in general, feel free to leave a comment or send us a note. We love helping people plan there travel, especially when we can point them to great local options that support the community!

This Hilo Travel Guide is the go-to resource for the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii from waterfalls to where to shop and support locally. Where to eat in Hilo, tour recommendations and what to add to your Hilo itinerary.
This Hilo Travel Guide is the go-to resource for the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii from waterfalls to where to shop and support locally. Where to eat in Hilo, tour recommendations and what to add to your Hilo itinerary.
This Hilo Travel Guide is the go-to resource for the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii from waterfalls to where to shop and support locally. Where to eat in Hilo, tour recommendations and what to add to your Hilo itinerary.

16 Spectacular Things To Do in Hilo, Hawaii

Saturday 28th of October 2023

[…] Keep reading to discover the top things to do in Hilo, Hawaii. […]