Top things to do

Top Choice Cultural in Hilo

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival swoops into town around Easter and turns laid-back Hilo into the place to be. Forget about booking a last-minute room! This sellout three-day hula competition was established in 1964 to h…
Top Choice Park in Hilo

Liliʻuokalani Park

Savor Hilo's simple pleasures with a picnic lunch in scenic Japanese gardens overlooking the bay. Named for Hawaii's last queen (r 1891–93), the 30-acre county park features soaring trees, sprawling lawns and quaint…
Top Choice Hawaii Regional Cuisine in Hilo

Hilo Bay Cafe

With sweeping bay views and great Hawaii Regional Cuisine, this casually sophisticated restaurant could be stuffy. But it's not. Here you'll find a diverse crowd feasting on an eclectic omnivorous menu, including go…
Top Choice Sushi in Hilo

Takenoko Sushi

Reserve a spot at this superb eight-seat sushi bar a year in advance. For the long wait, you're treated to the upper echelon of Japanese cuisine, with top-quality fish (mostly flown fresh from Japan), a spotlessly c…
Top Choice Sweets in Hilo

Two Ladies Kitchen

This hole-in-the-wall is famous statewide for outstanding Japanese mochi (sticky rice cake) in both traditional and island-inspired flavors such as liliko‘i (passion fruit) and poha (gooseberry). They're sold in box…
Top Choice Sweets in Hilo

Big Island Candies

Once a mom-and-pop shop, this wildly successful confectioner is now a full-fledged destination. In an immaculate showroom-factory, enjoy generous samples, fantastic displays and beautifully packaged candies and cook…
Top Choice Museum in Hilo

Lyman Museum & Mission House

Compact yet comprehensive, this small museum encompasses the tremendous variety of Hawaii's natural and cultural history. Downstairs, geologic exhibits include fascinating examples of lava rock, minerals and shells.…
Top Choice Zoo in Hilo

Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens

Hilo's 12-acre zoo is a terrific family-friendly freebie. Stroll through tropical gardens to see a modest but interesting collection of monkeys, reptiles, sloths, parrots and more. The star attraction? A pair of Ben…
Top Choice Beach in Hilo

Onekahakaha Beach Park

Perfect for kids, this spacious beach has a broad, shallow, sandy-bottomed pool, protected by a boulder breakwater. The water is only 1ft to 2ft deep in spots, creating a safe 'baby beach.' An unprotected cove north…
Top Choice Beach in Hilo

Richardson's Ocean Park

Near the end of Kalanianaʻole Ave, this little pocket of black sand is a favorite all-round beach. When calm, the protected waters are popular for swimming and snorkeling, with frequent sightings of sea turtles (kee…