Scroll to Continue


Located on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, Hilo offers breathtaking natural beauty plus all the amenities of a vibrant town. On the geographic flipside of the volcanic Kohala Coast, the region is blessed with dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests and blooming gardens. It’s also home to Hilo International Airport and is a convenient stop on your way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located 45 minutes south.

A busy farming and fishing area in early times, Hilo evolved into a commercial center for the sugar industry in the 1800s. Downtown Hilo was built around its crescent-shaped bay and became the seat of county government. Today, Downtown Hilo is a charming town offering museums, art galleries, shops and restaurants. 

Discover the area’s fascinating history at the Lyman Museum, learn about the terrifying tsunamis that nearly swallowed Hilo at the Pacific Tsunami Museum or head to the newly built Imiloa Astronomy Center, a world-class attraction housed in three striking titanium cones (representing the three tallest mountains on the island of Hawaii: Maunakea, Maunaloa and Hulalalai). 

To taste some of Hawaii’s exquisite produce or buy local crafts, try the Hilo Farmers Market in Downtown Hilo. See more local culture when you browse the art at the East Hawaii Cultural Center. Or, purchase a Hawaiian keepsake at one of Hilo’s many popular local shops.

Hilo has plenty of natural beauty, too. The Liliuokalani Gardens is a peaceful respite and features Japanese-style fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens on its 30 acres, while Wailuku River State Park is home to the 80-foot Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls) and Peepee Falls. Visit the nation's only rainforest zoo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, to see a collection of exotic plants and animals, including two Bengal tigers. Whatever your itinerary, a visit to Hilo is worth the trip to experience an authentic taste of the island of Hawaii.

Hilo Highlights

Hilo Farmers Market

The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.


Liliuokalani Gardens

Liliuokalani Gardens is a beautifully landscaped, 30-acre Japanese garden featuring fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens.


Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park features two amazing waterfalls, Akaka Falls (442 feet) and Kahuna Falls (100 feet). 


Downtown Hilo

Downtown Hilo is the island of Hawaii's biggest small town, featuring centuries-old wooden storefronts—many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places—housing a variety of sophisticated galleries, shops, restaurants and cultural sites.


Wailuku River State Park

If you’re looking for a waterfall near Downtown Hilo, take a short drive west on Waianuene Avenue to Wailuku River State Park.


Get a Free Island of Hawaii Travel Planner Guide

Order a Guide