Try a Mai Tai, a mixture of rum and pineapple juice.
Where You're Docked
Ships dock within walking distance of downtown.
On Foot: Hilo, the second largest city in all of Hawaii, is very walkable.
Taxis: Line up at the dock.
Renting a Car: Hertz and Avis are among the big-name companies but they
only rent from the airport (about a ten minute taxi ride from the pier).
Advance car rental reservations are highly encouraged.
In downtown Hilo, there are a number of interesting sights to see. Banyan
Tree Drive, created in the 1930s, is a beautiful waterfront walk; many of
the trees were planted by celebs-of-the-time, from Babe Ruth to Franklin D.
Roosevelt. Along the way, stop in at Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, a 30-acre
Japanese garden. Other Hilo highlights include the Pacific Tsunami Museum
(130 Kamehameha Avenue) for exhibits on the tsunamis of 1946 and 1960 that
struck this town. The Lyman House Memorial Museum (276 Haili Street) is a
circa 1839 missionary house and focuses on Hawaii's natural history.
Shopping in Hilo is centered along Kamehameha and Keawe Avenues; note that
many stores are closed on Sunday.
If you're lucky enough to call at Hilo on Wednesday or Saturday check out
the Hilo Farmers Market - it's a fabulous place to buy fruit and flowers.
Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is distinguished not once
but twice: it's a rain forest with America's most active volcano. There are
two volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea (the former tops off at 13,677 feet),
the latter is the active one -- having been erupting mostly non-stop since
1983. There's no guarantee that you'll see a lava flow from Kilauea but it's
worth the chance. To get eruption updates before you leave for your trip, go
to www.hvo.wr.usgs.gov. The park is a 45-minute drive from Hilo. Interesting
stops along the way include the Volcano Winery (see below) and the Mauna Loa
Macadamia Factory (Highway 11). Volcano Village, which lies at the base of
the park, has cafes and tourist shops.
Been There, Done That
Explore the offerings of tour operators who lead hikes and cycling tours
through Hilo's gorgeous countryside. Worth checking out: Polynesian
Adventure Tours (www.polyad.com), Hawaii Forest & Trail
(www.hawaii-forest.com), and Hawaiian Walkways (www.hawaiianwalkways.com).
Rent a car and drive to Akaka Falls; it's eight miles north of Hilo and has
a gorgeous waterfall and observation point for lovely views. Then head to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (Onomea Bay) which features regional flora
Most Picturesque Beach -- Both Above and Beneath the Water: Leleiwi Beach
Park is a lovely coved with all sorts of black-lava tidepools and good
snorkeling (sea turtles like it here). Gentle surf, good for families.
There's a bathroom and a picnic pavilion but otherwise no other facilities.
Downtown, try Cafe Pesto (308 Kamehameha Avenue, from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
where you can find pasta and regional fare -- but the highlight is its
awesome pizzas. For sushi, try Ocean Sushi Deli (239 Keawe Street, Monday - Saturday from 11 a.m.). Romance-seekers should check out Pescatore (235 Keawe Street, open daily from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.) for southern Italian cuisine.
Staying in Touch
Beach Dog Rentals (corner of Waianuenue and Kinoole, downtown).
For More Information
Call the Big Island Visitors Bureau at 800-648-2441
Cruise Critic Message Boards: Hawaii
The Independent Traveler: Hawaii Exchange