A Former Resident's Guide To Hilo, Hawai'i (Big Island)
Hilo, Hawai'i, is a very multicultural town on the Big Island. If you want the local experience and a slower pace, don't skip a visit to Hilo!
Lili'uokalani Gardens is a gorgeous Japanese garden in Hilo to walk, bike, picnic, photograph, and relax. It is a favorite of tourists and residents.
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The park is also a great place to meditate by the ocean, walk to Coconut Island, or watch the sunset and look at Mauna Kea from afar.
Wailoa River State Park is another pretty park to see. Walk or bike and enjoy the cool bridges.
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At Wailoa Park, be sure to also see Hilo's statue of King Kamehameha the Great. There also is an art center in the park.
Right in Hilo there is a waterfall called Rainbow Falls. If you are super lucky, you may see rainbows on a sunny day!
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Up the road from Rainbow Falls you can find Boiling Pots, which also happens to have a waterfall. Do not swim here though, as it is dangerous.
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Downtown Hilo has many small gift shops, restaurants, and the historic Palace Theater. Yearly in the fall they host a Black and White Night event too.
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Go photograph Onekahakaha Beach Park. Hilo isn't as well known as Kona for its beaches, but locals flock to Hilo beaches for holidays and sunny days.
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About 15 miles outside of Hilo you can see Akaka Falls, another great waterfall to chase. There is also a lovely loop walk.
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At Akaka Falls, I once found this obscure magical location during the loop walk--it is gorgeous at Akaka Falls.
If you are a fan of tropical flowers, visit a botanical garden. I recommend the Nani Mau Gardens, located super close to Hilo.
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Visit the Panaewa Zoo, the only tropical Zoo in the USA (check status-- currently closed until likely May 2021.). They have a white tiger!
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Saturdays and Wednesdays check out the famous Hilo Farmer's Market to buy souvenirs, fruit, & veggies. Wash all produce due to rat lungworm disease.
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On that note, make sure to research Rat Lungworm Disease before your trip--that way you can be cautious with local produce and avoid illness.
If you're really adventurous and have the funds, or find a deal, you can take a helicopter ride over Hilo Bay or elsewhere on the Big Island.
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Hilo has a lot of great small restaurants and tons of ethnic food. My favorite Thai food is at New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine Restaurant. πŸ˜‹πŸ₯°
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Be sure to stop at the T.Kawamoto store early on the days that they are open to grab your own bento lunch.
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They have a lot to pick from--my favorite is their tempura green beans. Try a variety of things since everyone's taste is different with ethnic foods.
Ken's House of Pancakes is a famous diner in Hilo, Hawai'i. If you are brave, try a "Sumo Size" meal and see if you survive!
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The best California roll can be found at Ocean Sushi restaurant. I have not found one I love as much in Japan, Las Vegas, Oahu, or Montana!
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Other restaurants I recommend are Hilo Bay Cafe, Liko Lehua Cafe, Pond's, Tetsumen Ramen, Hilo Seaside Restaurant, Pineapples, and Restaurant Miwa.
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Hilo is sadly underrated despite great food, small shops, small town charm, and more. Be sure to visit and experience a less stereotypical Hawai'i!
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