Explore the Hilo Area in a Day
Hilo 1-Day Itinerary Suggestions
Hilo is located in the northeastern region of the Big Island. This side of the island is renowned for its beautiful natural resources such as phenomenal waterfalls, well-kept gardens, alluring tropical rainforests, remarkable beaches, and so much more.
In this article, we go over a variety of places that are waiting to be explored in the Hilo area in a day.
Continue reading below to see where you should travel during your stop in Hilo.
How to use our Big Island itineraries for your trip
Big Island of Hawaii 'Pack-and-Go' Wayfinder Guides for daily excursions
Ultimately, we’ve designed our Big Island of Hawaii itineraries around a set number of on-island Big Island days: offering one (this page), two, three, four, five, six, and seven-day itineraries for exploring the island, soaking in the best sights, and ensuring your precious time (and potentially money) on the Big Island are used wisely. We’ve tried to balance our itineraries between those who seek adventure and those looking to find a good beach and relax. Overall, we want your experience to be exactly what you’ve dreamed of when planning your Big Island of Hawaii trip.
For each island, including the Big Island, we’ve attempted to split up the itinerary days by sorting attractions according to their geographic proximity; i.e., on Volcano day, you’d explore the best of the Big Island's Volcano region attractions, hiking trails, and activities. Our itineraries are not meant to be followed consecutively necessarily, which would probably be exhausting, but instead as a grab-and-go resource for ‘mapping’ your trip - think of us as a Wayfinder’s guide to the Big Island of Hawaii. We always like to travel by making day-by-day plans, putting the most important attractions and activities (the must-see and do) upfront, and if the weather doesn’t cooperate one of those days, we switch that day with another. That way, we always get to the important stuff first, and if we have to skip anything, it’s ideally the minor attractions only.
Must See Hilo Sights & Attractions
Akaka Falls State Park
For those who enjoy hiking, Akaka Falls State Park is a fantastic sight. It is located at the end of Akaka Falls Road. It features two amazing waterfalls that stand as glorifying prizes following a short yet rewarding trek. After walking through lush trees and plants such as wild ginger orchids, bamboo, and other exotic vegetation, the first waterfall to be witnessed is Kahuna Falls, which stands at 100 feet tall.
As you continue along the paved path, you will observe Akaka Falls and its impressive 442-foot cascade. Akaka is one of the most famous falls in Hawaii, and many tourists flock here to witness its grandeur. Akaka Falls State Park offers a pleasant experience for tourists seeking to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Rainbow Falls State Park
Rainbow Falls State Park offers a unique factor that continues to draw tourists and visitors to its sight. On bright, sunny mornings during the early hours of 10 am, rainbows can be seen peeking through the mist produced by the falls. The lush rainforest greenery surrounding the waters coupled by its cascading falls offers a dramatic setting that is adored by many vacationers. Rainbow Falls State Park is only a short ride from the central part of town. It sits on Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo.
Liliuokalani Park and Gardens
Liliuokalani Park and Gardens have been described as a place of undeniable beauty and tranquility. Here, you will find an array of statues, gorgeous flowers, and bridges that all add to its ambiance of serenity. This site is ideal for a romantic stroll or for anyone seeking clarity and peace while vacationing in Hilo. You can take spectacular photographs or merely enjoy the striking features it beholds.
If you’re seeking to learn the natural history of Hawaii, the Lyman Museum is the perfect place to visit. It is one of the four recognized museums on the island and is located on Halili Street in Hilo. Here, you will find an abundance of insightful information about the intriguing history of the Hawaiian people. This museum offers a collection of items, such as various tools and devices that were used in the past to assist Hawaiian people with their everyday lives. Only a small, affordable fare is required to enter the Lyman Museum.
Imiloa Astronomy Center
The Imiloa Astronomy Center is the perfect blend of Hawaiian culture and astronomy. Here, you will receive insight into the relationship between astronomy and the Hawaiian culture. Various interactive resources and exhibits are available to enlighten visitors. The Origins center provides details on early human existence. The second area, known as Explorations, offers plenty of displays such as canoes and other vehicles for travel that were vital for expeditions. The admission is inexpensive to enter and access all that this center has to offer.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo
The Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is a must-see. It is located on Stainback Highway in Hilo and offers a collection of gorgeous Hawaiian plants, various reptiles, tropical birds, and amphibians, and a beautiful white Bengal tiger. Here, you can enjoy a serene walk in this lush rainforest and become enchanted by the exciting sights of the animals that live here. An admission fee is not required to enter into Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. However, despite being free, it is considered courteous to make a donation to the site to assist in keeping it around permanently.
Why You Should Visit the Hilo Area
Hilo is a beautiful island in Hawaii, and many tourists enjoy witnessing its luxuries. Here, the climate is typically warm, but you can expect clouds and rainy weather on occasion. It's natural splendors such as the lush rainforests, stunning gardens, and beautiful waterfalls, make it the ideal place for any nature lover. Whether you wish to explore these sites in a day or make a complete trip out of visiting them all, you will not be disappointed by Hilo's natural amenities.