As the largest city on the Big Island, Hilo is equally famous for its geo-active and richly colorful land as it is for its university, museums, and one of the most celebrated Polynesian dance festivals in the world, the Merrie Monarch Festival (held in April each year). Visit the only tropical rain forest zoo in the United States, the Panaewa ... Read more
Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, or hike through bamboo forests to the waterfalls of Akaka Falls State Park, practically next door to downtown Hilo.

Hilo places to stay and top hotels

Hilo things to do and experiences




Although the temperatures at sea level remain largely the same around the island with daytime highs reaching 80F (26C) in winter and 90F (32C) in summer, the amount of rain you’ll see depends on which coast you ... Read more
are on: the northern and eastern sides have a wetter and more tropical, whereas the western and southern sides are drier and more and desert-like. High-season from December to April means there are fewer bargains to be found and more tourists in Hawaiian shirts to battle for beach space, so if you can afford the vacation time in any other month, it’s definitely worth it.

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Top Hilo restaurants

  • Cafe Pesto
    9.239 reviews
    Italian, Pizza
    Popular withFoodiesFamilies
  • Ken's House of Pancakes
    8.545 reviews
    American, Hawaiian
    Popular withFoodiesFamilies
  • Hilo Bay Cafe
    9.324 reviews
    Popular withFoodiesTrendsters
  • Lucy's Taqueria
    8.114 reviews
    Mexican, Breakfast & Brunch, Bar
    Popular withFoodiesFamilies

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Hilo reviews & trip reports

  • 9.8
    Family Travelers
  • 8.9
    Green Travelers
  • 7.7
    Art & Design Lovers
  • 7.6
    Solo Female Travelers
  • 7.3
    Adventure Travelers

Member Reviews(28)

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hilo is small and quaint but manageable much better for living in than touring. I've spent much of the past year that I've been in Hawaii living in Hilo. I love the warm days sprinkled with intermittent rain to keep the temperatures from getting unbearably hot. For me the weather is perfect!

Recommended for:Budget TravelersGreen TravelersSolo Female Travelers
South San Francisco, California, USA

Took a quick stop at downtown Hilo to checkout the small shops and the water. The downtown area is pretty busy, especially around the farmer's market area.

Austin, Texas

This is town on the green side of the island. The drive north to the Hamakua Coast is amazing, and you can also easily access the volcano from here via boat, plane, or helicopter.

Brooklyn, État de New York, États Unis

The downtown area is quaint and right out of the 60s / 70s. Home to a number of mom and pop businesses, including coffee shops and restaurants. Parking is easy and the area is easily navigated on foot.

Recommended for:Art & Design LoversBudget TravelersHistory Buffs
San Luis Obispo

This workaday port town is a relief from the Kona resorts on the other side of the Big Island. Love getting up early here and running out to Coconut Island for the panoramic bay views, then heading downtown to the farmers market. Or just hanging out with friends after dark, catching an indie flick or a live-music show at the Palace Theater. Downtown also has some cool boutique shops for island-made art, clothing and food (ex. Two Ladies Kitchen mochi, Tropical Dreams ice cream). It's a totally chill scene.

Recommended for:BackpackersBudget TravelersFamily Travelers
Local from Hakalau, Hawaii, USA

I love living near Hilo. Located about 12 miles from our VRBO. It's has a small town vibe, although the largest town on the Island. It's not fancy but it has everything you need. It's not real touristy so there aren't lots of fancy restaurants or sights to see around town, but it has a laid back type of charm and several well priced local restaurants. Here are my favorite Hilo things to do:
#1 - Hilo farmers market (go on Weds and Sats for the best experience)
#2 - Coconut Island / Liliuokalani gardens
#3 - Tsunami Museum
#4 - Big Island Candies (yummy)

Recommended for:Budget TravelersGreen TravelersLGBTQ
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Not much to see. It is good to stop by but I do not recommend staying here. It is quite dead.

Los Angeles, California, USA

Small town Hawaii!

Facing Hilo Bay, this city has survived earthquakes and tsunamis. It's one of the rainiest cities in the US, but it's not gloomy. The rains are usually light and brief, and can be refreshing on a hot day.

There are beaches and parks to enjoy, restaurants, shopping, and even a farmer's market. You'll also find a rainforest zoo and Mauna Loa macadamias here!

Local from Hilo, Hawaii

Flying into Hilo, HI is the best only if you can look past the time it takes to land. It's so beautiful to gaze across the ocean, watching the rifts and waves! The amount of canyons and valleys are innumerable and beyond words! Dazed on the beauty of the Hilo side will allow for time to pass by unnoticed. There is so much to entertain yourself with as well as adventure to be discovered--get ready!!

Kihei, Hawaii

Wet! But interesting and beautiful.