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

Amazing hotels and hostels

We've pre-picked the best hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Hilo activities

$186.46 Day Trips & Excursions

Big Island of Hawaii Tour: Akaka Falls

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Royal Kona Coffee Center, Captain Cook, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiWalk through a lava tube, and take a tour of a Kona Coffee Farm to learn about the harvesting and milling process while sampling Kona CoffeeDuration: 30 minutesStop At: Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Pahala, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiDip your toes in the sand at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach and scan the horizon for green sea turtles on the shoreDuration: 30 minutesStop At: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiExplore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Halema’uma’u and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, past lava flow sites, and take a short hike along crater rim trail.Duration: 1 hour 30 minutesStop At: Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, Volcano, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiEnjoy a free tour of the orchid garden and picnic style lunchDuration: 1 hourStop At: Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiNext is a waterfall that’s small by comparison, but not by beauty: Rainbow Falls, a beautiful 80-foot (24-meter) waterfall with a giant banyan tree beside it.Duration: 30 minutesStop At: Waipi'o Valley, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiThe views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue oceanDuration: 20 minutesStop At: Akaka Falls State Park, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiThis towering 442-foot (135-meter) waterfall plummets into a lush ravine at the center of a state park. You’ll enjoy a short walk through the vegetation for an up close view and plenty of photo ops. Duration: 40 minutes

$235 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.

$138.44 Day Trips & Excursions

Big Island Grand Circle Island Tour

Recent and record-breaking volcanic eruptions have made international headlines. The pause in early August 2018 in earthquakes and collapse-explosion events at the summit of Kīlauea brings new hope that the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will be reopened soon and we will once again be able to bring guests into the Park.  The latest itinerary for this tour includes a visit to Royal Kona Coffee’s headquarters, Punalu‘u black sand beach and lunch at the newly renovated Queen’s Court Restaurant in the historic Hilo Hawaiian Hotel with views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea. After lunch it’s onto Big Island Candy Company, the home for exquisite chocolate and mac nut treats and then a stop at not one, but two waterfalls – Rainbow and Akaka Falls! On the way back to Kona, stop at Hamakua Macadamia Nut to see macadamia nuts roasted to perfection. Royal Kona Coffee Mill & Museum Mauna Loa Volcano (seen in the distance) Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (drive-by) Lili‘uokalani Botanical Garden (drive-by) Lunch at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (on own) Big Island Candy Company Rainbow Falls Akaka Falls Hamakua Macadamia Nut

$238.54 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Hawaii Volcano Tour with Dinner from Kailua-Kona

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiPicnic lunchDuration: 45 minutesStop At: Kaumana Caves Park, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiBrief hike to lava cavesDuration: 30 minutesStop At: MacKenzie State Park, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiRecent lava flows in lower east rift zone of KilaueaDuration: 1 hourStop At: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiChain of Craters Road, Lookouts, Steam Vents and views of the NewHalemau’mau CraterDuration: 1 hour 15 minutesStop At: Saddle Road, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiStargazing, weather permittingDuration: 30 minutes

$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

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productCheck-in, gear fitting and board the boatDuration: 30 minutesLocation: Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HawaiiManta Ray snorkel, boat rideDuration: 2 hoursLocation: Hang Loose Boat Tours, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, Hawaii