HAWAII — Hilo

Hilo is the county capital and commercial centre of the Big Island but it is dwarfed by the much larger Kailua-Kona. It is a scenic place but because of the large amount of rainfall here it hasn’t become a tourist ‘hot spot’. It is a lovely place to visit because of its peaceful streets and beautiful historic buildings.

The sights found here are:
Lyman House Memorial Museum
Pacific Tsunami Museum
East Hawaii Cultural Center
Farmer’s Market
Wailoa River State Park
Lili´uokalani Park
Mokuola
Hilo Beaches
Honoli´i Beach Park
Rainbow Falls
Kaumana Caves
Mauna Loa Macadamia-Nut Visitor Center
Nani Mau Gardens

Lyman House Memorial Museum
This museum contains collections showing the natural and cultural history of Hawaii. The collections include displays of seashells and minerals, ancient art of China, artists of Hawaii as well as changing special exhibitions. One of the highlights of the museum is experiencing a volcanic eruption as you pass through a lava tube. Next to the museum is the Mission House which is the oldest wooden structure on the Big Island and one of the oldest in Hawaii. It features furniture, tools, household items and artefacts used by the Lymans and other early missionary families.
For information about the museum visit the following website at: http://www.lymanmuseum.org

Pacific Tsunami Museum
This museum dedicates itself to explaining the devastation and aftermath of tsunamis. The museum has tsunami survivors as part of their staff who will give their first hand knowledge of what a tsunami is like. The museum is interesting and informative and worth visiting.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.tsunami.org

East Hawaii Cultural Center
This centre displays the work of local artists as well as local schoolchildren. It also holds art and craft classes and workshops. The centre was once the local police station and the building is typical of 19th century island homes.
For information about the Cultural Center visit the website at: http://www.ehcc.org

Farmers Market
This outdoor market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from dawn. On sale are produce, pastries, flowers, artwork, and souvenirs. There are around 120 vendors on Wednesday but less on Saturday. The market is found at the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street in downtown Hilo.

Wailoa River State Park

Wailoa River State Park
This park is a lovely peaceful place to walk in. The Wailoa River flows through it and it is possible to go boating on the river. The park contains memorials for tsunami victims and Vietnam War veterans. The Wailoa Center is also found here and it is a free state-run art gallery and provides visitor information services.
For information about the park visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/hawaii/index.cfm?park_id=56

Lili´uokalani Park

Lili´uokalani Park
This park is found on the Waiakea Peninsula along Banyan Drive. The park and gardens cover about 30 acres of land. The land was donated for public use by Queen Lili´uokalani who was Hawaii’s last monarch. It is predominately a Japanese style park and has the largest Yedo-style gardens outside of Japan. These were built in the early 1900s as a memorial to immigrant Japanese workers on the Waiakea sugar plantation. In the park are lovely bridges, fishponds, a gazebo and statues.

Mokuola

Mokuola
Mokuola or Coconut Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is found off Banyan Drive near Lili´uokalani Park. In ancient times this island was famous for its healing spring waters as well as a healing stone to cure sick people. It was also a place of refuge for those who needed safety. Today Mokuola is a popular spot for picnics and fishing.

Hilo Beaches

Hilo Beaches
Hilo is not really a beach area because the conditions can get very rough for swimmers but there are some diving and snorkelling spots worth mentioning. A few kilometres east of the intersection of Kalaniana´ole and Kanoelehua Avenues you will find Puhi Bay where there is a reef that beginner divers will find suitable but beware the water temperature is very cold. One beach that is suitable for swimming and especially if you are travelling with children is Onekahakaha Beach Park which is found near Kalaniana´ole Avenue. Here you will find a sandy-bottomed pool formed by rocks that is mostly very shallow. A few kilometres further away is Leleiwi Beach Park which is considered the best dive site from the shore in Hilo. Richardson Ocean Park which is found near the end of Kalaniana´ole Avenue is a very popular snorkelling spot with a small black-sand shoreline to explore.

Honoli´i Beach Park

Honoli´i Beach Park
This beach is found on the northern side of Hilo and it is one of its best surf beaches and popular with local surfers but it isn’t suitable for swimmers. The only sand here is rocky and there is little of it. Be aware that the only parking is along a narrow road.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls are found a short drive from Hilo and the best vantage point is the lookout in front of the park. These falls are only worth visiting after a lot of rain otherwise you will only see a trickle of water. The banyan trees found here are huge and there are lots of other wonderful native plants to see as well. Further up the road is Pe´epe´e Falls and Boiling Pots where the water cascades in a series of waterfalls and swirls in bubbling pools which is where the name comes from.

Traveller's Tip

Just be aware that it can get very popular here and you might have to fight for space to view the falls. Also the mosquitos can be very vicious so come prepared.
Kaumana Caves

Kaumana Caves
These caves are large lava tubes formed after a lava flow from Mauna Loa. You walk down a steep staircase into a large opening that is covered in ferns and tropical flowers. The caves are wet and mossy and if you want to explore them in any way you will need a torch. The caves are not far from Hilo and are well signposted.

Mauna Loa Macadamia-Nut Visitor Center
This is basically a gift shop to buy merchandise but if you like macadamia nuts then this will be for you. It is a farm and factory and you will see macadamia nut trees on the way in. Once you reach the shop you can go on a free self-guided tour of the factory. You just look through the windows which have labels telling you what is happening on the factory floor but if you are there on the weekend the factory won’t be working. There is also a video which shows the process from collecting the nuts on the farm to final packaging. There is a cafe where you can sample macadamia treats.
For information about the visitor centre visit the website at: http://www.maunaloa.com/visitor-center

Traveller's Tip

If you dont’t want to compete with the tour buses then arrive after 11am.
Nani Mau Gardens

Nani Mau Gardens
A lot of tour buses stop at these gardens but there really isn’t anything special about the plants and flowers which can be seen in many places around the island. If you do want to visit make sure you check the website beforehand for opening and closing times.
For information about the gardens visit the website at: http://www.nanimaugardens.com