Staying in Kona? You Should Make Sure to Take a Day Trip to Hilo Hawaii
The beauty and comfort of the region known as Kohala along the Big Island’s western coast represents a near-perfect Hawaiian paradise. Glistening white beaches, gentle, warm days, and enough activities to keep you busy wall-to-wall, a stay in or around Kailua-Kona is one of our favorite experiences in all of Hawaii. Even if you’re planning to spend each evening on the beach watching a beautiful sunset, the opportunities for adventure on the east side of the Big Island should be enough to pull you away for at-least a day trip.
East Hawaii Cultural Center
If you’re artistically inclined, a visit to the East Hawaii Cultural Center is a wonderful opportunity to experience the finished products from local artists, sculptors, quilt makers, and musicians. With events held on a regular basis and plenty of opportunities to talk to members of the Hilo art community, a visit to the East Hawaii Cultural Center is an enlightening experience.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Much has been written about the park and the many reasons why you should visit it, but if you’re coming all the way over from the western side, a stop in Hilo for lunch or dinner should be right at the top of your list. The proximity to the park attracts plenty of visitors to the city, but due to the long and sometimes grueling drive back across the island to Kailua-Kona, it’s certainly worth booking a room for the night and relaxing in Hilo before heading back in the morning.
Incredible Dining Options
Some fantastic local chefs reside and work in Hilo, offering incredible Hawaii-specific variations on your favorite American, Thai, and Japanese dishes. From Hilo Bay Cafe to ‘Imiloa Sky Garden to cheaper (but delicious) hole-in-the-wall eateries, a meal in Hilo is well worth the trip across the Big Island.
Located in Hilo Bay, this small island is offshore from the Liliuokalani Park and Gardens and features a large grassy area for picnics, a swimming area, and restroom facilities. It’s a public park and it’s often busy if the weather is nice, but the island offers a great opportunity to see Hilo bay from the water – and kids will love the oceanfront swimming area with a diving platform.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for amazing scenery and lush tropical plant life, a visit to the rain forest at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden should reside squarely on your to-do list. As you descend the hill, you’ll drive past orchids, huge palm trees, and native flowers and plant life you won’t find elsewhere on Earth. With over 2,000 different species of plants in the garden, you’ll need a few return visits to check everything off your list.
Rainbow Falls and the Big Banyan Tree
Just a quick drive north of the main drag is Wailuku River State Park and one of the most beautiful waterfalls on Earth. Rainbow Falls, which garnered its name thanks to the colorful display emitted from the mists below, is a quick and easy stop off the road and rewards visitors with two incredible sights: the falls themselves, and the massive banyan tree that sits adjacent.