18 Fun Things to Do in Hilo, Hawaii | 2024 (with Photos)

Katarina P.

Katarina P. - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

Hello there! I'm Katarina, thrilled to share my favorite activities in Hilo, Hawaii based on my exploration of this beautiful destination. From stunning natural landscapes to cultural delights, Hilo has something special for every traveler to enjoy.

Fun Things to Do in Hilo, Hawaii

Welcome to Hilo, Hawaii, where adventure and relaxation blend in perfect harmony!

Situated on the lush Big Island, Hilo offers a plethora of exciting activities to engage your senses and create lasting memories.

From exploring mesmerizing waterfalls to immersing yourself in the rich Hawaiian culture, this tropical paradise has something for everyone.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters for snorkeling and swimming, hike through scenic rainforests, or simply unwind on picturesque beaches.

Get ready to indulge in 18 fun things to do in Hilo that will make your visit unforgettable.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a Doubletree by Hilton

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Best time to visit Hilo is during summer.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Hilo, USA is mild.

Transportation Options

Bus, car, taxi, bike, walk, rideshare, moped, skateboard.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Discover the hidden gem of Hilo, Hawaii, where lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and black sand beaches await. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and natural beauty of the Big Island as you explore the breathtaking landscapes of Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

Wander through the vibrant Hilo Farmers Market, where local artisans showcase their crafts and exotic fruits abound.Dive into the azure waters of Rainbow Falls or take a scenic drive along the stunning Hamakua Coast, where towering cliffs meet the endless sea.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Comfortable walking shoes
  3. Swimwear

What Not to Miss

  1. Volcanoes National Park
  2. Rainbow Falls
  3. Akaka Falls State Park
  4. Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm
  5. Liliuokalani Gardens

What to Avoid

  1. Avoid visiting during the rainy season
  2. Be cautious of high tourist crowds
  3. Overpriced tourist traps

1. Taking a Journey to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a captivating natural wonder on the Big Island.

Home to two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers breathtaking vistas, ancient lava flows, and unique geological formations.

Visitors of Volcanoes National Park can explore volcanic craters, hike through lush rainforests, and witness the raw power of molten lava.

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, learn about Hawaiian traditions, and marvel at the ever-changing landscape shaped by these majestic forces of nature. And if it's your first time at Hawaii, you should check out 28 Best Things to Do in Hawaii for First Time Visitors.

2. Exploring the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Immerse yourself in the vibrant beauty of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

Located on the lush Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden showcases a diverse array of exotic tropical flowers and tropical plants.

Visitors of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden can stroll along winding paths, surrounded by towering palms, cascading waterfalls, and rare blooms in every shade imaginable.

Visitors can also discover the serenity of hidden valleys, spot colorful birds, and breathe in the intoxicating scents at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

A visit to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is one of the most tranquil things to do in Hilo.

3. Unveiling the Hilo Farmers Market Experience in Hilo Bay

Hilo Farmer's Market

The Hilo Farmers Market, located in Hilo Bay, within walking distance of the Wailoa River State Recreation Area, welcomes visitors with its vibrant and bustling ambiance.

With a myriad of stalls offering fresh produce, delicious local delicacies, and unique handmade crafts, Hilo Farmers Market is a treasure trove of flavors and cultural discoveries.

Engaging with friendly vendors, exploring tropical fruits, indulging in mouthwatering dishes, and finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs make the Hilo Farmers Market an irresistible destination for visitors.

Whether you are seeking culinary things to do in Hilo, or an immersion into local culture, Hilo Farmers Market promises an unforgettable experience.

4. Exploring the Pacific Tsunami Museum

Pacific Tsunami Museum

Located in Hilo, the Pacific Tsunami Museum offers a captivating journey into the impact and science of tsunamis.

Delve into the region's tumultuous history through powerful exhibits, survivor testimonials, and interactive displays in the Pacific Tsunami Museum that showcase the devastating effects of tsunamis.

Visitors of the Pacific Tsunami Museum can gain a deeper understanding of the geological processes behind these natural disasters and learn about the efforts made to mitigate their impact.

With its informative exhibits and educational programs, the Pacific Tsunami Museum serves as a valuable resource for both locals and visitors, promoting awareness and preparedness in the face of future tsunamis.

5. Discovering Wailuku River State Park

Wailuku River State Park

Nestled in the heart of Hilo, Wailuku River State Park offers a picturesque retreat for nature lovers.

Wailuku River State Park is home to the stunning Rainbow Falls, where the Wailuku River cascades over a natural lava cave, creating a breathtaking sight.

Visitors of Wailuku River State Park can take a leisurely stroll along the well-maintained paths, marvel at the lush greenery, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

Immerse yourself in the legends and folklore surrounding the falls, and if you're lucky, catch a glimpse of a mesmerizing rainbow arching across the cascades.

Wailuku River State Park is a must-visit Hilo destination for a serene and scenic experience.

6. Exploring the Magic of Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a mesmerizing natural wonder and is one of the best things to do in Hilo, Hawaii.

Rainbow Falls is guided by the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina. The Wailuku River gracefully plunges over a lava cave, creating a breathtaking cascade that is often accompanied by a vibrant rainbow shimmering in the mist.

Visitors of Rainbow Falls can revel in the beauty of the falls from designated lookout points, capturing awe-inspiring photographs. Hiking enthusiasts can explore nearby trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding lush greenery.

Immerse yourself in the legends and stories surrounding Rainbow Falls and embrace the tranquility of the serene pools below.

Whether marveling at rainbows or simply soaking in the natural splendor, a visit to Rainbow Falls is an enchanting experience for all and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Hilo.

7. Embarking on a Journey to Richardson Ocean Park

Richardson Ocean Park

Richardson Ocean Park located on the East Coast of Hilo, Hawaii, offers a captivating coastal experience for visitors.

With its pristine sandy shores and crystal-clear waters, Richardson Ocean Park provides an ideal setting for sunbathing, picnicking, and beachside relaxation.

Adventurers can explore the rich marine life by snorkeling or diving in the vibrant coral reefs. Richardson Ocean Center, situated within the park, offers educational exhibits and programs, allowing visitors to deepen their understanding of the ocean's wonders.

Whether you're seeking serenity, exploration, or things to do in Hilo, Richardson Ocean Park is a must-visit Hilo destination.

8. Embarking on a Tropical Adventure to Coconut Island in Hilo Bay

Coconut Island

Coconut Island, also known as Moku Ola, is a captivating tropical paradise situated in Hilo Bay, Hawaii.

Coconut Island is renowned for its lush greenery, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

Visitors can bask in the tranquility of swaying palm trees, snorkel in vibrant coral reefs, or embark on scenic hikes through its dense vegetation, all while enjoying the breathtaking views along the Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive.

Coconut Island is not only a picturesque destination but also holds cultural significance as a place of healing, so if you are looking for spiritual things to do in Hilo, Coconut Island is the place to be.

9. Embarking on an Epic Cycling Adventure with Bike Volcano on the Big Island

Bike Volcano

Bike Volcano offers an exhilarating adventure for cycling enthusiasts on the Big Island of Hawaii.

This thrilling experience allows riders to descend from the summit of Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa, two iconic volcanoes, and enjoy breathtaking views while cruising down the scenic slopes.

With professional guides and well-maintained bicycles, Bike Volcano provides a unique and memorable way to explore the volcanic landscapes and natural beauty of Hawaii island.

10. Embarking on a Journey to Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, located on the east side of Hilo, Hawaii, is the only tropical zoo in the United States, offering a captivating experience immersed in the wonders of a lush rainforest.

This tropical zoo showcases a diverse collection of tropical animals, providing visitors with the opportunity to encounter exotic species in a naturalistic setting, and it is a must-visit attraction when exploring things to do in Hilo.

From colorful birds and playful primates to fascinating reptiles and delightful insects, Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo offers a tropical paradise where guests can explore and appreciate the incredible diversity of wildlife thriving in the rainforest environment.

11. Exploring the Wonders of Imiloa Astronomy Center in Downtown Hilo

Imiloa Astronomy Center

If you are looking for unique things to do in Hilo, Imiloa Astronomy Center is a perfect spot for you. Imiloa Astronomy Center, located in Northeastern Hilo Coast, is a captivating destination that blends science, culture, and astronomy.

Imiloa Astronomy Center offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of the universe and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people.

With interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and educational programs, Imiloa Astronomy Center provides a fascinating insight into the celestial world.

Guests can delve into the mysteries of the cosmos, discover ancient Hawaiian navigational techniques, and gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of astronomy and culture. And if you are more a nightbird, here is the list of 29 Best Things to Do in Hawaii at Night & Late Afternoon.

12. Embarking on a Big Island Spectacular Helicopter Tour

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

Embark on the Big Island Spectacular Helicopter Tour for an unforgettable aerial adventure over the stunning landscapes of Hawaii's Big Island.

Marvel at breathtaking views of towering volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, and dramatic coastlines as you soar through the sky.

Visitors can capture incredible photos and create lasting memories as they experience the natural wonders of Hawaii's Big Island from a unique perspective.

With expert pilots providing informative commentary, helicopter tours offer an immersive and awe-inspiring journey through the extraordinary beauty of the Big Island.

13. Embarking on an Enchanting Journey to Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park, nestled on the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a breathtaking natural wonder that leaves visitors in awe.

Akaka Falls State Park is renowned for its iconic Akaka Falls, a majestic 442-foot waterfall that cascades into a lush gorge. Renowned as the most celebrated waterfalls on the Big Island, they can be easily accessed through a short hike.

As visitors of the Akaka Falls stroll along the well-maintained pathways, they are enveloped by the enchanting sights and sounds of the rainforest, featuring lush vegetation, tropical flowers, and the gentle melody of birdsong.

The serene ambiance and the dramatic beauty of Akaka Falls, combined with its scenic hiking trail, create a captivating experience that offers a glimpse into the island's awe-inspiring natural landscapes. When exploring things to do in Hilo, a visit to Akaka Falls is a must for those seeking to immerse themselves in the breathtaking wonders of Hawaii's natural beauty.

14. Embarking on an Extraordinary Journey to Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea, a majestic dormant volcano located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a captivating natural wonder that beckons adventurers and stargazers alike.

Rising to an impressive height of 13,803 feet, Mauna Kea is the highest peak in the Hawaiian archipelago.

The summit of Mauna Kea offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape, with its snow-capped peaks and barren lava fields creating a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.

Additionally, Mauna Kea Mountain is renowned for its world-class observatories, attracting astronomers from around the globe to study the cosmos from its pristine and exceptionally clear skies.

A visit to Mauna Kea promises a captivating blend of awe-inspiring natural beauty and celestial wonders, making it one of the top things to do in Hilo.

15. Exploring the Beach Parks of Hilo, Hawaii

Carlsmith Beach Park

Hilo, Hawaii, is a coastal paradise abundant with captivating beach parks.

Richardson Beach Park is a captivating destination with its fantastic waves, and unique black sand beaches, creating a striking contrast against the turquoise waters. This beach park is located near other famous seaside parks, including Carlsmith Beach Park, and Honoli'i Beach Park, each offering its own unique beauty and recreational opportunities.

Carlsmith Beach Park is a tranquil haven with calm waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking. The idyllic setting, surrounded by lush greenery and swaying palm trees, creates a peaceful atmosphere ideal for relaxation and enjoying the beauty of the beach. With convenient picnic tables available, visitors can also savor a delightful meal while taking in the serene ambiance of Carlsmith Beach Park.

Honoli'i Beach Park, is a renowned destination for surfers, offering powerful and consistent waves that attract experienced riders. With its stunning coastal views, Honoli'i Beach Park also serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, providing a picturesque setting for beach picnics, sunbathing, and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

Whatever beach park you decide to explore, Hilo, Hawaii promises an unforgettable blend of natural beauty, aquatic wonders, and exciting coastal activities.

16. Embarking on an Enriching Journey with Guided Tours

808 Hawaii Tours

Embark on a guided tour and unlock the hidden treasures of the Big Island's East Side.

Discover the enchanting beauty of the island's famous waterfall on the Volcano Twilight Tour, where the cascading waters create a mesmerizing spectacle.

Explore the historic Kamehameha Avenue, lined with a charming gift shop and local eateries, as you delve into the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii.

With knowledgeable guides leading the way, these guided tours offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural wonders and vibrant communities of the Big Island's East Coast, making them a fantastic addition to your list of things to do in Hilo.

17. Embarking on an Unforgettable Journey with Hilo Ocean Adventures

Hilo Ocean Adventures

Hilo Ocean Adventures offers an exhilarating and immersive experience for nature enthusiasts in Hilo, Hawaii.

With a variety of ocean activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat tours, visitors can explore the vibrant marine ecosystems and encounter fascinating marine life.

Whether it's swimming alongside tropical fish, exploring coral reefs, or observing majestic marine mammals, Hilo Ocean Adventures provides a thrilling opportunity to connect with the wonders of the ocean.

With experienced guides and a commitment to environmental conservation, Hilo Ocean Adventures is an unforgettable adventure for ocean lovers of all ages.

18. Exploring the Lyman Museum and Mission House in Hilo Bay

Lyman Museum and Mission House

The Lyman Museum and Mission House, located in Downtown Hilo Bay, Hawaii, offers a unique glimpse into the history and culture of the region.

Lyman Museum showcases a remarkable collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that explore the geological, cultural, and natural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Mission House, a restored historic building, provides insight into the lives and work of the early Christian missionaries who played a significant role in shaping Hawaii's history.

Together, the Lyman Museum and Mission House offer an enriching and educational experience that celebrates the rich heritage of Hilo and its surrounding areas, making them essential stops on your list of things to do in Hilo.

FAQs about things to do in Hilo, Hawaii

Let's answer some questions about things to do in Hilo, Hawaii.

How do I spend a day in Hilo, Hawaii?

To spend a day in Hilo, start by exploring the natural wonders of the entire island at Volcanoes National Park. Take a short hike at Thurston Lava Tube, then visit the Wailoa River State Recreational Area. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture at the Hilo Town and Natural History Museum, and don't miss strolling along Kamehameha Avenue to discover local shops.

Is Hilo, Hawaii worth visiting?

Hilo is definitely worth visiting. Explore a private property with stunning landscapes, catch fantastic waves for surfing, or embark on thrilling helicopter tours. Discover hidden tide pools, marvel at the majestic Wailuku River, drive along the scenic Hamakua Coast, and don't forget to indulge in a refreshing craft beer at Hilo Brewing Company.

What is Hilo, Hawaii known for?

Hilo is known for its lush landscapes. The Wailoa River State Recreational Area offers serene moments by the river and tide pools teeming with marine life. The Hilo Farmers Market showcases fresh produce. Akaka Falls State Park features stunning waterfalls surrounded by tropical plants. The area's rich connection to Hawaiian mythology, including the ancient Hawaiian goddess, further adds to Hilo's allure.

Which is better to visit Kona or Hilo?

Both Kona and Hilo offer unique experiences. Kona boasts stunning beaches, including Honoli'i Beach Park, and a vibrant coffee culture. Hilo offers the allure of Mauna Loa, the National Park, and an enchanting botanical garden with exotic tropical flowers. Don't miss exploring lava rocks and browsing a gift shop.

Summing Up: The Best Things to do in Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo offers a plethora of fun activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Explore the Pacific Tsunami Museum to learn about the region's history or unwind at Wailuku River State Park with its captivating waterfall views.

Downtown Hilo beckons with its vibrant atmosphere and shops. Marvel at the majestic Rainbow Falls and traverse lava rocks at the shoreline.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of a botanical garden and the tropical plants that flourish throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Visit the iconic Akaka Falls, and stroll along the Wailoa River State Recreational Area.

Hawaii is a true paradise for adventure and exploration, offering an array of exciting things to do in Hilo.