Welcome to Hilo

People might seem low-key, but they're a resilient lot. Knocked down by two tsunamis, threatened with extinction by Mauna Loa lava flows, deluged with the highest annual rainfall in the USA and always battling for its share of tourist dollars, Hilo knows how to survive and to thrive.

Hilo had a life before tourism, and it remains refreshingly untouristy. Yet it offers many attractions: compelling museums, a walkable downtown, two thriving farmers markets and dozens of indie restaurants. Hilo is an ideal base for exploring Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea, Puna and the Hamakua Coast.

Top experiences in Hilo

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Travel guides

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Hilo activities

$182.30 Day Trips & Excursions

Big Island of Hawaii Tour: Akaka Falls

This full-day nature tour kicks off when you are picked up directly from any of the Kona or Kohala resorts and hotels, and then heads north from Kona on a brief scenic drive, with snacks and refreshments provided throughout the day. On the way to the first destination, you’ll pass some of the island’s oldest volcanoes, as well as Hawaii’s largest ranch, the Parker Ranch in Waimea, which has been operating on the island since 1847. The morning is filled with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. The views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window before visiting Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and the famous Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view and plenty of photo opportunities of the exotic flora and fauna. In the afternoon, relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the black-sand shore. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you’ll see views of South Point, the southern most point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay. If time permits, we may stop at a Kona Coffee Farm or the famous Punalu’u Bakery to conclude the day. Note: Depend on weather condition, tour may operate in reverse order.

$223.96 Day Trips & Excursions

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

View a spectacular sunset from the top of Mauna Kea and enjoy a unique stargazing experience on this Big Island adventure tour. After departing from Hawaii Forest & Trail's Kona Headquarters and a brief pickup from the Queens' MarketPlace in Waikoloa, you'll travel to a Hawaiian historical ranch in a 4x4 luxury van at the base of Mauna Kea. Enjoy a hot, picnic-style dinner (see sample menu in the Itinerary section below) at a former Hawaiian ranch site where you're provided with a warm, hooded parka. Then prepare to make the climb to the summit area of Mauna Kea, learning about the Big Island's cultural, natural and ecological history from your naturalist guide. From the summit, enjoy views of Mauna Loa and see Maui's volcano, Haleakala, along with other special points of interest. Stand among some of the earth's most powerful telescopes as you enjoy the sunset view. After sunset, travel to the Mauna Kea Visitor Station at 9,000 feet (2,743 meters), where your guide sets up a telescope for a personal, entertaining and educational star party. Learn how Mauna Kea's unique geography draws scientists from all over the world to study the heavens, and also allows for incredible nighttime views of the stars. Enjoy hot beverages and dessert as your guide gives a personal astronomy lesson before your return to Kona.

$122.95 Day Trips & Excursions

Big Island Grand Circle Island Tour

Get a complete Big Island experience on the Grand Circle Island Adventure. Hawaii’s Big Island is blessed with spectacular landscapes, including volcanoes and rain forests, and this is the best way to see it all. You’ll have between 15 minutes to one hour at each of the following stops; the order could change, depending on factors like weather, but you will see it all. Kailua Town:Kailua Town was considered the premier place to live in ancient times; kings called it home.Kealakekua Bay:Catch amazing Hawaiian views here.Kona Coffee Plantation:Sample Kona’s delicious export.Volcanoes National Park:The Grand Circle tour includes admission to the park. Built in 1916, the park features the results of 70 million years of volcanic activity, migration and evolution. See the Kilauea Iki crater, Thurston Lava Tube and the steam bluffs. Bring a light sweater or jacket to wear here.Jagger Museum:You can watch films of past eruptions and current volcano activity at this free, hands-on museum.Volcano Observatory:This is where the US Geological Survey monitors volcanic activity using a variety of technological and scientific data. You’ll be fascinated by what they know. Additional stops on the tour include a drive through Parker Ranch’s gentle hills and a view of flowing waterfalls along the gorgeous Hamakua Coast.

$225 Outdoor Activities

Volcanoes National Park Small Group Twilight Tour

Begin your 12-hour, small-group tour with a visit to see two of the world's largest volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The region is locally known as the Saddle, and it's also home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the world. After a brief stop for lunch at Mauna State Park, continue east towards Hilo to explore a lava tube. Here you'll turn on your provided flashlight and look around these spellbinding passages that once carried molten rock from Mauna Loa's upper rift zones to the ocean. From there, head into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park via the Crater Rim Drive. The park, which is both a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Preserve, is filled with must-see spots such as the active Kilauea. Throughout the afternoon, your guide leads your group on moderate 1.5-mile (2 km) hikes, with breaks in between, along mostly flat trails; if need be, you can use provided walking sticks in areas with uneven or muddy terrain. Since Pele (the fire goddess said to live here) is unpredictable, it’s not guaranteed that you get to see lava flowing firsthand on this hike, but your guide will do their best to take you to prime viewing spots if the conditions are safe. When Kilauea isn't erupting, you actually get to walk the summit caldera, peer down steam vents, and marvel at the cinder fields. Such dramatic displays aren't the only natural wonders of the park. You'll also explore trails carved into a native rain forest before you head to a spot where you'll get to see active lava glowing at twilight.Your Big Island volcano tour includes a delicious picnic style dinner.

$65 Water Sports

Night Manta Ray Snorkel

Begin your day with check-in on the north side of Honokohau Marina, where you'll meet your guide who will instruct you on general snorkeling safety and snorkel gear fitting. Once everyone has properly fitted their equipment, it's time for departure out into the waters.It will be a short 20 to 30 minute cruise out into the open ocean off of the Kona coast before you get to the manta site. During your journey, you will be able to view the beautiful Hawaiian sunset. Once you arrive at the site, your guide and Captain will prepare you to go into the water to snorkel with the manta rays.Once you have completely immersed yourself in the experience of having swam with manta rays, it will be an easy climb back onto the boat for a ride back to the harbor. During this tour all of the required equipment is provided. The vessel you will be riding on is equipped with bathroom on board, and drinks & snacks are complimentary as well.

$176.04 Kid Friendly

Big Island ATV Tour Above Waipio Valley

The Big Island ATV adventure begins at Waipiʻo Valley Artworks, which is approximately a 100 minute drive from Kona and a 75 minute drive from Hilo. The tour begins with a safety orientation, learning how to operate the ATV, SideBySide, or Buggy you will be driving. Once youʻre fitted with safety equipment, drivers will do a pass or fail practice track. For those whoʻd prefer to simply ride along, thereʻs also the option of riding with a guide in a comfortable, open-air buggy-along with the rest of the ATV group, youʻll learn about what was once the political and economic epicenter of Ancient Hawaiʻi, how agriculture was an intricate part of a thriving society that allowed Hawaiian spirituality, virtues, and community to prosper. Ride the Royal lands above the Valley, which was frequented by Aliʻi (Hawaiian Royalty). Learn about aquatic species that are indigenous to this sacred area, native plants that were used for medicinal purposes and the hawaiian starch, kalo(taro) who’s lineage is as deep as humanity. We have a 11-12 mile, 3 hr waterfall adventure through an aromatic eucalyptus forest, scented with flowering gingers and seasonal fruit, on mountain terrain suitable for riders of all abilities. Beginning at 800 feet elevation we immediately climb to the top and back of the Valley at 2000 feet and swim in a waterfall that is the headwaters of the famed Hi’ilawe Falls- the longest single-drop fall in the state. There we enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages. We then begin the descent to lookouts over the Valley with vistas that include the longest black sand beach in the state, multiple taro patches under cultivation, wild horses and remnants of ancient fish ponds built by the first people to use aquaculture, the Ancient Hawaiians