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Hilo Sight Seeing Recommendations from @hawaii

When the family was going to be in Hilo for a few days, I knew I had to contact @hawaii aka Ryan Ozawa about his personal recommendations since he’s been talking about Hilo for years. This simple inquiry led to a flood of advice for a short, three-day visit.

Because his advice was so good, I had to republish it here for others to benefit from. Here’s a slightly shortened version of what Ryan had to say (links are mine):

Between the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (my favorite official ‘attraction’) and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, that’s easily a full day already. Apart from that, there’s fun little things. Lyman is interesting to us but maybe not as much for kids. There is (was?) also a NOAA visitors’ center in downtown Hilo a while back that had kid-friendly exhibits all about the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. You can check out Rainbow Falls right above downtown, too. Big Island Candies is basically a big store but a visitor attraction in its own way (often they let you watch them make cookies/chocolates).

If you’re able to venture further, you can drive north a little bit out of Hilo for Onomea Bay Drive (4 mile scenic drive and short hike down if you want), further still for Kolekole Beach Park (under a striking bridge) or further to Akaka Falls (which is now much easier to get to than it used to be!). Hell you could get as far as Honokaa and Waipio Valley look out (kind of the Big Island’s Pali lookout). But that’s a few more hours of exploring and a lot of driving.

Thinking south of Hilo (between Hilo and the volcano park), you could always visit old Pahoa Town (kind of like a little Haleiwa), though there’s not much actual lava to see. There’s the Lava Tree park, which is neat…

Oh, and food? It’s cliche, but I love love love Ken’s House of Pancakes. Open 24 hours, breakfast available 24 hours, kind of reminds me of the old King’s Bakery. Other frequent stops are K’s Drive In, Blane’s Drive In, Leung’s for Chinese, Suisan for poke bowls (a classic!), Cafe Pesto for fancier sit-down dining. We just went to Hawaiian Style Cafe for the first time (near Big Island Candies), and it was pretty good but busy. Next door is Miyo’s, Japanese, which is where we usually go in that shopping complex…

A weird one: Kozmic Cones (317 Waianuenue Ave), just above downtown. Simple ice milk cones (like old school McDonald’s kine), dipped in nuts. So messy. But an easy treat. And there’s a drive through, so it’s often our last rush stop before the airport. 🙂 Oh, and you have to see if you can get into (and get your hands on) Two Ladies’ Kitchen for mochi.

Our trip is now done, and although we didn’t get the opportunity to visit every one of Ryan’s recommendations, we surprisingly hit a lot of them. Stay tuned for more posts…

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