On the lush windward slopes of Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive mountain, lie the districts of North and South Hilo. Hilo, the county seat and biggest town on the island of Hawaiʻi, is in South Hilo, which visitors may find confusing. The Hilo districts stretch up the Hāmākua Coast as far as Laupāhoehoe, encompassing a handful of tiny towns, today little more than plantation camps, as most business is conducted in “town.” You’ll enjoy the beautiful scenic drive along the coast, as it’s probably one of the loveliest in the islands. With plenty of waterfalls and lush greenery, you’ll love exploring the districts of North and South Hilo!
Fun Things to do in the Hilo Districts
Hilo town itself has by far the most activities, as again, it is the biggest town on the island. Though there isn’t much “beach,” there is plenty of waterfront, and lots of it is swimmable. Hilo Bay is especially beautiful in the afternoon, when clouds gather on the slopes of the mountain above. Get in the water at Coconut Island, or one of the many beach parks (again, not with sand!) along the coast at Keaukaha.
Hilo’s Carlsmith Beach Park, also known as Four Mile, is consistently named among the island’s top beaches. Lava rocks and reef form a natural barrier against the larger ocean swell, creating calm waters close to shore. These tranquil waters, which at times can be likened to a swimming pool, are great for swimming. Stairs lead from a rocky pier area into the water, where you will find many local and visiting families swimming with their kids. Around the rocky areas you will also find good snorkeling opportunities. This lifeguarded beach has a grassy area good for picnicking and lounging and is a great place to spend the day when you’re ready to hit the beach during your vacation in the Hilo Districts.
Dining in Hilo
One of the great things about basing yourself in the Hilo District is the plethora of dining opportunities, which foodies may find lacking in other areas of the island. From budget friendly options to swanky places that are perfect for a special evening out, you can take your pick from top-notch eateries in the Hilo District. Pick up sushi or poke, a local favorite, at the Poke Market and enjoy a picnic along one of the scenic areas near Hilo. Browse the Hilo Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays or Fridays when over 200 vendors fill the space with fresh local produce and products, or book a table at the Hilo Bay Café, where presentation rivals taste in the delectable Pacific Rim cuisine.
Waterfalls in Hilo
Hilo is a great city to explore by bike, especially the Bayfront area, so rent one and check it out! There are also a good handful of unique museums, exploring such diverse themes as astronomy and tsunamis. And of course, waterfalls: drive mauka (towards the mountain) along Waiānuenue (Rainbow Falls) drive to check those out.
North of Hilo town lies perhaps the Big Island’s most striking waterfall – Akaka Falls. Situated within Akaka Falls State Park, visiting this enclave offers the chance to get outdoors, do some hiking, and be rewarded with magnificent views. The four-mile loop trail is paved, taking away from the complete natural experience but also making the journey easier. Depending on the route you choose, you can head straight to Akaka Falls or take the scenic route past the smaller but still beautiful Kahuna Falls. The path continues to weave its way through lush vegetation, where you’ll eventually pause at the Akaka Falls lookout. This magnificent waterfall drops an astounding 422 feet into a pool below and is surrounded by steep valley walls. While the base of the falls is inaccessible, a small path leading from the lookout leads the more curious onlooker closer to the top of the falls.
Whether you choose a rental in Hilo town, or to the north along the coast, it’s likely to be quiet and peaceful in the evening, as long as you’re prepared for coqui frogs! Some love them, some hate them: but rest assured, these little tropical peepers are guaranteed to make you feel like you’re sleeping in the middle of a tropical rainforest. Because you are! Hilo is green for a reason; expect and prepare for rain if you stay here.
The Hilo District has a great blend of relaxation and activities for your Hawaii vacation. For a rainforest and waterfall vacation, coupled with the activities of one of Hawaiʻi’s best towns, choose one of our great rentals in the Hilo District!