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Things to do in Hilo

Our most recommended things to do in Hilo

Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

1. Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

2. Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

The morning is filled with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. The views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue riding along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window before visiting Akaka Falls and the famous Rainbow Falls. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view and plenty of photo opportunities. In the afternoon, explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Halema’uma’u, and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, and take a short hike along the crater rim trail.  From here, relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the black-sand shore. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you’ll see views of South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay.  Finally, enjoy a visit to Kona Coffee Farm. Stroll through the orchards with your guide and learn about the harvesting and milling process while sampling a warm cup of Kona-grown coffee.

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

3. Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

This is your opportunity to swim in a lagoon full of abundant sea life. Join your hosts on a fully guided and narrated beach snorkel tour along the pristine Hilo coastline. Make 2 snorkeling stops and also enjoy island snacks and juices. The volcanic beaches are renowned for their abundant sea turtle population, and the brackish water bays and lagoons are home to a wealth of sea life including octopus, eagle and manta rays, eels, corals, and tropical reef fish. Your experienced snorkel guide will teach you about the beautiful and lush surroundings, how the beaches and volcanic islands are made, and about the abundant marine world which lies below. Newcomers to snorkeling and children are welcome. Your trained guide will teach you the basics and be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Children will be introduced to nature in a spectacular way.

Volcano: Volcanoes National Park E-Bike Ride with GPS Guide

4. Volcano: Volcanoes National Park E-Bike Ride with GPS Guide

Experience the thrill of a lifetime: E-bike around the rim of an erupting volcano. Follow a GPS map tour using your smartphone. This day of unbeatable excitement begins at Bike Volcano Headquarter in Volcano Village (less than a mile from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) where there is secured parking, restrooms, a general store, and a restaurant. Here you will be fitted with an e-bike and helmet and given a safety lecture under the canopy staging area. The GPS system will then lead you on a voice turn-by-turn navigation from Volcano Village into National Park on a bike trail through a lush native Hawaiian Rainforest. Your first stop will be Waldron's Ledge where you will get your first panoramic view of Kilauea Volcanos Caldera and the active lava in Halemaumau Crater (volcano-dependent). Next, your ride continues a paved trail along the rim of the Caldera to the Steam Vents where you will feel the heat of the volcano and get another incredible view of the Kilauea Volcano's Caldera. Continue biking along the crater's edge, getting incredible vast views unseen by most visitors to the park. Stop at the Kilauea Overlook and the Summit of Kilauea. Adventure abounds as you head to the opposite side of the crater and bike through the lush Hawaiian rainforest to see the incredible Kilauea Iki Crater before taking a short hike through the Thurston Lava Tube. The journey continues down Devastation Trail and leads to the closest viewing point to see the active lava in the Summit Crater. Why walk when you can e-bike? You will end your journeying by biking back to Volcano Village where you will say "A hui hou", until we meet again.

Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

5. Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

Visit Rainbow Falls and the Kaumana Caves before heading to your stargazing location. Travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, 2 of the tallest and biggest volcanoes on Earth. To complete your tour, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. Observe the deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture telescope, under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. Enjoy narration from expert astronomers, who have written articles for well-known magazines and worked at world-class observatories for decades. The telescopes are a true purist way to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide-field views of objects that are simply not possible with other telescopes.  Weather permitting and depending on what is visible in the current sky, you can observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more.

Hilo: Wailoa River to King Kamehameha Guided Kayaking Tour

6. Hilo: Wailoa River to King Kamehameha Guided Kayaking Tour

Experience Hilo from a new perspective as you journey up the river. Cruise underneath the dragon arches of the Japanese-style bridges. Loa, or "long water," includes an easy entry from a boat ramp that travels up Wailoa River and into Hilo Bay. See unique birds and fish throughout your excursion.  Take a break and enjoy the King Kamehameha Statue. Learn more about the History of the Big Island and the Tsunamis that have cleared the area and created an arboretum of trees, recognized by the Tree Association as "The Largest of Tree Species outside of Africa." 

Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

7. Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

Start with a drive through quaint Hilo town where you’ll drive along the historic waterfront before heading out to the old fishing village of Kalapana. Your National Park Service certified guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of Kilauea Volcano, as well as providing in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by.  Hike out across the lava flow to the new black sand beach. Stop by Star of the Sea Painted Church, moved by the community twice to save it from advancing lava flows in 1990, this decommissioned church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Next travel to the crown jewel of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. V isit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Stop in at the famous Volcano House for incredible views of Kilauea Caldera, and hike to the cracks and sinkholes in the paved roads left behind by the historic eruption of 2018.

Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

8. Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

Explore Hawaii’s youngest and largest island and change the way you see the Big Island with this narrated, self-drive road trip. Visit historic sites, popular attractions, world-class beaches, and scenic hikes. Hear local stories, legends, and fun facts about the places you’re visiting and listen to unique Hawaiian music to entertain and relax you along the way. Drive across barren lava fields that are wedged between two active volcanoes. Visit a black sand beach and taste Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts on local farms. Be adventurous and go cliff diving or take advantage of the beautiful nature and take a scenic hike. See the tallest mountain in Hawaii at night for the ultimate stargazing experience. This adventure is great for families and solo travelers alike.

Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

9. Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

The highlight of our Hilo adventure is a visit to the world-famous Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting continuously since the 1980s. Your guide will tell you about the history of the volcano on your visit to the park and the Kilauea lava flow. On our Big Island Volcano Adventure enjoy the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Visitor Center, an ancient lava tube, Kilauea Iki Crater and more. We’ll take you on a drive along the famed Banyan Tree Drive. The trees you’ll see on the this road were planted by various local Hawaiians, political and religious leaders, famous authors, movie stars and world adventurers beginning back in 1933. At Akaka Falls we’ll stop so you can take photos. This waterfall is 80 feet tall and nearly 100 feet wide, and flows over a natural lava cave into a large freshwater pool surrounded by thick tropical vegetation.

Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

10. Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

Experience Hawaii's Big Island at your own pace with a self-guided driving tour. Stops include Hulihe's Palace, Magic Beach, and the Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Your tour of the Big Island begins outside the quaint town of Kailua-Kona. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. As you drive, you’ll see the historic Hulihe’e Palace, once the vacation home of the island’s royalty. Continue south to Magic Beach, where the sand sometimes simply disappears. After that is Kahalu'u Beach, a perfect place for snorkelers, followed by the sacred Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Next, pass the remnants of Hikiau Heiau, an important religious site in ancient Hawaii. Past that is the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park for those looking to learn more about the island’s history. See the Honaunau Rodeo Arena and learn all about Hawaii’s cowboys. Next up is Pebble Beach, where you’ll get to know the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele. You’ll also have the option to check out the Kula Kai Caverns, left by ancient volcanic activity. Continuing on, reach the startling Punalu'u Beach, which features totally black sand. The route then passes an old sugar plantation, followed by the huge volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Pass by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can explore the island’s volcanoes up close. After that, drive through the picturesque town of Hilo. Then, cruise through the almost impossibly scenic Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Find surfers catching waves next at Honoli'i Beach. After that is Onomea Bay, featuring a spectacular hiking trail with views that can’t be beaten. Then, admire the astonishing flora at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Continuing on, you’ll arrive at the surprising sight of the Honohina Hongwanji Mission, a historic Buddhist temple. Next pass the Laupahoehoe Train Museum before reaching Laupahoehoe Point, a spectacular ocean vista. Don’t forget to snap some photos. Anyone hankering for a snack will definitely want to stop at the Hamakua Harvest Farmers Market before continuing on to the cowboy town of Waimea. Up next are a pair of great beaches: Hapuna Beach is the largest white sand beach on the island and Beach 69 is beloved by locals, so take your pick. Then you’ll arrive at the Kings Highway Foot Trail, where you’ll have the chance to see the ancient Waikoloa Petroglyphs. After that are another few scenic overlooks, followed by the beautiful Kekaha Kai State Park. Your tour concludes here, just north of where it began.

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What people are saying about Hilo

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 307 reviews

Since it was my first time to experience a helicopter, I felt very scared at first and only look at the scenery in the camera. The team worked well together. The pilots have great skills and can chat and explain the scenery. The process of tilting at the view is very exciting. I feel like it's a roller coaster ride. However, as the plane flew through the clouds, it felt like my dream had come true.

Very knowledgeable guide, friendly and helpful. LOVED the wine tasting! I recommend the driver and activity. Drove completely around the island, stopped at many scenic locations, discovered the areas we wanted to go back to and spend more time exploring. Well worth the time.

Our guide Morgan was very friendly and knowledgeable and gave us a great experience! We had been snorkeling before, but greatly appreciated his tips and excellent advice.

It’s a great trip and really worth it! We visited many unique sightseeing points that really showed the beauty of Mother Nature.

Morgan was a great guide, friendly, funny and tentative to other member's safety and health.