As much as we love our Orange County airport, it is a smaller airport that doesn’t offer the variety of flights that bigger airports like Los Angeles International can, which is why I wanted to share this big announcement – United Airlines (operated by Continental Airlines) is offering daily non-stop flights from LAX to Hilo starting June 9! Many people go through Hilo on the east side of the Big Island en route to Kona on the west side, or on their way to one of the other islands, but Hilo is quite the destination itself.
On your next trip to Hilo, there are a few sights that you just can’t miss:
- Hilo Farmers Market (Saturday and Wednesday mornings) – at the corner of Mamo St. and Kamehameha Ave.
- Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots State Park – drive up Waianuenue Ave. and follow the signs
- Pacific Tsunami Museum – provides information about tsunamis and exhibits showing the devestating effects that past tsunamis have had on the town. You can also pick up a pamphlet with a driving/walking tour of tsunami sites.
- Stargazing on Mauna Kea – Mauna Kea is a stargazing sight that is famous to both locals for ceremonial reasons and to the international audience for the atmospheric clarity- some of the world’s largest telescopes are found here. Arnott’s Lodge offers quality sunrise and sunset stargazing tours at rates that are usually lower than anyone else on the island.
- Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park – just 30-45 minutes southwest of Hilo. KapohoKine Adventures, based in downtown Hilo, runs a tour that is very informative and a great introduction to what the park offers visitors.
Where to Eat
In downtown, check out Cafe Pesto, famous for their gourmet pizzas, or Cafe Il Mondo for a delicious calzone. Sombat’s serves authenticThai food and is on the way out of town, just past Ken’s Pancake House, which is open 24 hours. If you continue past the Hilo airport on Highway 11 (Kanoelehua Ave), you will find the Hilo Bay Cafe, which serves slightly more upscale food and has a great menu with fresh seafood and vegetarian choices.
Where to Stay
Hilo doesn’t have any chain hotels, and there are few choices. The good news is that if you love B&Bs, I have two very different but equally amazing B&Bs to recommend – the historical Shipman House and the oceanview Hale Kai Hawaii. The Shipman House is on the National Register and is currently run by Barbara and Gary Anderson (Barbara is the great granddaughter of the Shipman family that lived in the house and has some great stories to tell!). The house had electricity as far back as the late 1880’s, when one of the only other homes in the U.S. to have electricity was the Vanderbilt mansion in Asheville, NC. It’s within walking distance from Historic Downtown Hilo on Reed’s Island surround by rainforest. Room rates start at $219/night with a 2 night minimum.
Hale Kai Hawaii is located a couple miles outside of Historic Downtown Hilo, closer to the scenic Hilo-Hamakua Heritage Corridor. This means that guests will be rewarded with gorgeous ocean views, and a great point for watching the surfer’s at the local surfing spot just down the road. Maria makes the most mouthwatering Macadamia nut cinnamon rolls and delicious homemade scones. With just four rooms, this B&B is sure to give you individualized attention, and Ricardo and Maria give great suggestions for local restaurants and things to do! Rooms start at $155/night, two night minimum in most cases, although one night stays can be arranged in certain circumstances.
Disclaimer: Though I recently visited Hilo on a trip sponsored by the Big Island Visitor’s Bureau, all opinions expressed are my own!
Waterfall – tauntingpanda on Flickr
Crater – author
View from Hale Kai – author