Big Island Activities: Hilo

Hawaiian History and Beauty Awaits.

Banyan Drive

Stroll among giant banyan trees, some of which were planted by famous people. Banyan Drive outlines a small peninsula that juts north into Hilo Bay. This drive is lined with immense Banyan trees that were planted by dignitaries and celebrities such as Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth and Richard Nixon.

A 15 minute stroll along Banyan Drive will take you to Lili'uokalani Gardens. Hilo began planting these massive trees in the 1930's. Now, their large aerial roots and leafy canopies line the entire street making it both unique and beautiful.

To get there:

Take Highway 11 to Hilo from Pineapple Park East. When you come to the intersection at the bay, straight ahead is Banyan Drive.

Hilo Farmers Market

The Hilo Farmers Market is a must-have experience when you’re on the Big Island. Stop at the Hilo Farmers Market for your fruits, crafts, flowers and gifts. Over 100 local farmers and crafters sell their produce, crafts, gift items and tropical flowers in a festive outdoor atmosphere that is reminiscent of the old "plantation" days of early Hilo.

Located at the corner of Mamo Street and Kamehameha Avenue in historic downtown Hilo, it's open year-round, every Wednesday and Saturday, from dawn til' it's gone.

To get there:

Head North on Hwy.11 (Kanoelehua Ave).Turn left on Hwy 19 (Kamehameha Ave.) This will take you into Historic Downtown Hilo

The Hilo Farmers Market will be on your left at the corner of Mamo and Kamehameha Ave.

Parking is available at Mo'oheau Park or on all the streets, it's FREE! of Mamo and Kamehameha Ave.

Photo Credit: State of Hawaii, Agricultural Development Division

Liliuokalani Gardens

This Japanese-influenced landscape near the sea features tranquil settings, views of the bay and pathways winding over half moon bridges. Queen Liliuokalani's gardens are 3/4 mile from Hilo airport Hostel and Hotel and make for a nice morning walk. Covering 18 acres on Hilo's scenic Banyan Drive waterfront, the gardens are testament to the Queen's love of Hawaii and the finest park in the Islands. You may see a mongoose scamper across the lawn or tiny black crabs scurry and hide between rocks in the waterways as you pass. Take the footpath that goes to Coconut Island for more beach views and a restroom.

  • 10 Minute Walk
  • 5 Minute Drive

Lili'uokalani Gardens are on the west side of the peninsula. These serene Japanese gardens feature tranquil settings, views of the bay and pathways winding over half moon bridges. You may see a mongoose scamper across the lawn or tiny black crabs scurry and hide between rocks in the waterways as you pass.

Take the footpath that goes to Coconut Island for more beach views and a restroom.

To get there:

Take Highway 11 to Hilo from Pineapple Park East. When you come to the intersection at the bay, straight ahead is Banyan Drive. Park and walk along the giant trees to Lili'uokalani Gardens.

Photo Credit: "LiliParkHilo" by AlaskaDave - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Naha and Pinao Stones

Legend says that only chiefs of Naha blood are able to move it, and when Kamehameha overturned the stone, it proved he would be Hawaii's greatest king. While the Pinao Stone was just a pillar at the Pinao Temple, the Naha Stone tested the fitness of Hawaii's ali`i.

The Naha and Pinao Stones stand in front of the Hawaii County Library.

To get there:
Take Highway 11 south. Do not turn onto the winding Napoopoo Road (also called Hwy. 160) but continue about 6 miles and turn right on Highway 160 which leads to the beach. Turn left at the sign for Place of Refuge National Historical Park.

Photo Credit: "Naha Stone, Hilo" by W Nowicki - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Akaka Falls

Pleasant self-guided walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge.

"The 0.4-mile loop footpath requires some physical exertion. (65.4 acres)." State Parks Trail Webpage

To Get There:

End of ‘Akaka Falls Road (Highway 220), 3.6 miles southwest of Honomu.

Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park

The Rainbow Falls are named for the beautiful rainbows frequently seen in the waterfall’s mist, especially in the early morning. The Wailuku River runs near Hilo and plunges 80 feet down a cliff into the deep pool beneath, creating rainbows in the sun and mist.

Rainbows can only be seen in the morning when the sun is behind you, but it's a beautiful spot anytime. Take the path up to a higher vantage point near the top of the falls. Sometimes Rainbow Falls is a triple falls.

To get there:

Take Highway 11 from Pineapple Park/Hilo into Hilo. Turn left at the bay on Kamehameha. Drive along the waterfront and turn left on Waianuenue Avenue. Take the right fork after the 1 mile marker and follow the signs to Rainbow Falls. A mile further up the road take Pe'epe'e Falls Street to Pe'epe'e Fall and Boiling Pots.