Hilo's tropical location, Asian and Polynesian influences, and down-to-earth people have created unique activities and fun things to do. There are many outdoor activities (our top 5 favorite ones are listed - all free), tropical gardens, museums, performances, and cultural events in Hilo. Hilo has recreation centers offering hula, sports, dance, exercise, swimming, arts and crafts and other activities for kids and adults and seniors. Hawaii Island is the premiere center for Astronomy and tropical agriculture which bring Astronomers and scientists to town and offer opportunities to attend lectures and particpate in events. The University of Hawaii in Hilo and the Hawaii Community College offer educational opportunities, sports events, performances and keep the town lively with young people. Hilo Bay offers surfing, kayaking, paddling, snorkeling, fishing, and fun in the sun. And Hilo's Hula and cultural Kumus offer instruction and support events in the town that keep Hawaiian hula, meles and traditions alive as well as cultures from other Pacific islands and Asia.
Take a stroll in Liliuokalani Gardens. Here is a photo tour of our walks in Liliuokalani Gardens. The 30-acre Japanese-style garden next to Hilo Bay has wonderful paths through beautiful trees, flowers, statutes, bridges and ponds. Residents fish the ponds and sit on the benches watching the ocean pound on Hilo Bay's barrier. The beautiful views and fresh air feels wonderful.
Look for a rainbow in Raindbow Falls located right above Hilo town. If you go in the morning, you may see a rainbow in the mist as the sun hits the water. In Hilo mythology, the goddess Hina lived behind these falls created by the Wailuku River. Wailuku means Water (Wai) and destruction (luku) which flooding in the past brought to Hilo from storms and snow pack on Mauna Kea Volcano. We enjoy visting the beautiful falls often.
Walk Banyon Drive under a canapy of famous trees. Each tree has a wooden sign with the name of a famous person who planted it while in Hilo or it was planted as a memorial. The most visited tree is Babe Ruth's tree. Along the way you can duck into the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel or Naniloa Volcanoes Hotel to sit in their lobby and enjoy the view of Hilo Bay.
Below is a video of a walk along Banyon drive, past Reeds Bay with an NCL cruise ship in harbor, past the Bay front condos and Hilo hotels and all the named Banyon trees. Turning left into Liliuokalani Gardens, Coconut Island and the bridge come into view. You can see Hilo across Hilo Bay with Mauna Kea Volcano above it in the distance. The drive continues past the Nihon Cultural Museum and Restaurant and Suisan's fish shop to the end of Banyon Drive which is also the entrance of the Wailoa river.
Hike the falls in Akaka Falls State Park. The falls are dramtic and the walk is pretty and a great workout. Take an umbrella; rain is not uncommon.
Visit Namaste, the white Bengal tiger, and stroll through the tropical gardens in the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. Here is a photo tour of a morning walk in the Zoo and Gardens.
Hilo Recreation Center and Sports events - County facilities offer lots of activities including walking classes, basketball, baseball, arts and crafts classes, tennis, bowling, fishing classes, track and field, t-ball, karate, badminton, and more. The Hilo area has the following facilities:
Waiakea Recreation Center and Skeet Range
Waiakea Uka Gym
The County creates a schedule of events every month and they can be accessed from this website - scroll to the bottom of the page.
'Imiloa Astronomy Center has displays and programs. It is located on the campus of University of Hawaii, Hilo. I have been to a lot of planetariums and this one is the most amazing I've ever seen- the first 3D planetarium in the world. In addition the displays are great, a 3D video of the earth produced by 4 movie projectors is captivating. They have a huge number of displays about astronomy and combine Hawaiian history and culture with astronomy. It is pricey to go, so we became members so we can continuously go. If that is not feasible, you can volunteer to get access. For me it is up there with the Air and Space museum in Washington DC. Here is a photo tour of one of our mornings at the 'Imiloa.