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Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

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241 posts
2 reviews
Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

First thanks again to the people here who answered my many questions as I struggled with deciding if we should come and scrambled to make last minute changes. We have been in Hilo. I'm so glad we came though bit feels strange having a great time here with my family while being so close to so much destruction and sadness for many.

We landed in Kona and could definitely see the vog from the plane. Wizzed through the rental counter and were on the road in no time. It was an orange level vog day and obscured the view from the mountain. Drove straight to snorkel Bob's to go ahead and get our gear for the week. Parked at the first spot we saw people eating out over the water and what we discovered to be Huggos on the Rocks. We were starving so we decided to grab a bite. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, the crashing waves and our Ani Sandwich, and mostly the view and atmosphere, the live musician. It was a wonderful welcome to the island. One daughter ordered saimin which she loved. The horzizon was gray for sure but the water was beautiful and none of us were bothered at least in the hour or so we were there. Snorkel Bob's hasnus in and out in a minute then we were on our way to Hilo.

I must admit at this point I started having big regret about cancelling our Kona stay as we were having such a nice time, but on we went. The drive across saddle road was so interesting seeing the roads change from vast lava fields to lush green. The vog was heaviest as here as we got toward the east side like a blanket over the valley. It obscured the mountain views. I was worried what the air would be like in Hilo but once we arrived it was like a whole new world.

We arrived at the Castle Hawaiian Hilo which exceeded my expectations for the cheap price. The location surrounded by water, coconut island and beautiful parks and banyan tree is lovely and we have had several strolls around the area.

The next day we were greeted with beautiful blue skies after a morning rain got going and headed to some waterfalls. We saw Rainbow falls, Peepee/ Boiling Pots, and Akaka Falls all amazing both the falls and grounds. I think my favorite was the scenic loop drive at Onomea Bay. We had no idea we were in for such a treat. The drive was lovely and we stopped at the bay overlook and saw a path down we decided to take. Wow was it beautiful. We kept going through 3 different coves on the bay and a little part of if went along the Tropical Botanical Gardens.

Drove back and relaxed for a bit before heading to Carlsmith Beach Park. No bacteria advisories so we felt fine with it. We really enjoyed it. The water was sooo turquoise, many families out enjoying themselves and it was a perfect place for our girls to practice snorkeling for the first time in the sheltered cove. I saw a huge sea turtle right away and a few fish. Finished our day with dinner at Naung Mai Thai Kitchen which we all enjoyed.

Our last full day we started by strolling around the hotel and surrounding parks. We stopped at Suisan fish market where a friend told us we had to try the poke and it did not disappoint. Huge servings too and very affordable. We even got our girls to try it and they are now poke fans.

Then we headed to Richardson's which supassed my expectations by far. It was not crowded and we were able to find a great shady spot right by water. The little black sand beach was nice. I read that the snorkeling here was just ok though one of the best on the east side. WOW! If this was just OK, we are going to in for a treat on the west side. We saw sooo many fish. Just about every fish on the fish ID card from Snorkel Bobs, huge parrot fish, big schools of fish, octupus, way more coral than I expected. SO fun and our girls were amazed. We've only snorkeled in Mexico and wondered if we might be disappointed but we had an amazing time. Love the Hawaiian trigger fish so pretty! We finished up the day with dinner at Cafe Pesto which we have mixed reviews.

We had a lovely stay here in Hilo and I'm glad we ended up spending an unplanned extended stay here. Before coming I keep looking at the windy app which would show poor air but was reassured the air here is usually nice, and it sure was. Blue, beautiful with occasional quick rain. Today we will drive the north route to the Kohala Coast for the rest of our stay.

25 replies to this topic
Burr Ridge, Illinois
Level Contributor
4,306 posts
103 reviews
1. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Thanks for sharing your trip report. Hilo is an awesome area. I can’t wait to be in Hilo and Volcano again next week. One of my favorite locations.

Hope you share your trip report to the North Shore. I’m headed up to the North Shore on Sunday to visit friends. I’m like a little kid getting excited to be back on the BI.

Again, thanks for sharing!

Edited: 07 June 2018, 01:34
South Pole
Level Contributor
41,191 posts
4 reviews
2. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Hi Krista,

So glad you made it and that you are happy you came. Enjoying your report.

I have eaten at Naung Mai many times and enjoy this local style Thai food place.

I lived down the road from Onomea Bay for eight years, and I think it’s a magical stretch of road.

The Saddle Road is quite the unique landscape for sure. Enjoy Hamakua!

Oahu, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Oahu
Level Contributor
29,812 posts
3. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo


Mahalo for your report.

I love the Hilo area, it's my go to spot on Hawaii Island.

Level Contributor
72,089 posts
18 reviews
4. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

So glad you did a detailed report, Krista! Your info is very helpful and will help others who are also needing to change plans.

Vancouver Island...
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349 posts
18 reviews
5. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Hilo is one of my favourite places. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
221 posts
58 reviews
6. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

What a lovely trip report! My son and I enjoyed Hilo side 3 years ago,too. In fact, we stayed on Hilo side longer than Kona side and loved every minute of it. Although Hilo side may not have wide, open white sand beaches, it still has its own unique beauty. So glad you and your family got to enjoy that! My son had fun exploring Richardson and Carl Smith parks. Climbing smaller lava rocks and jumping into the ocean was very entertaining for a then 8 year old boy. :)

Looking forward to your Kohala trip report as we'll be visiting Kohala for the first time this coming August.

Enjoy and have a wonderful trip!!


Foster City, CA
Level Contributor
26 posts
10 reviews
7. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Thanks for this post we will be there the 16th and this really helps me.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
175 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Really enjoyed reading your trip report. Thanks for "taking"

me on your vacation!

Hsinchu, Taiwan
7 posts
9. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Appreciate your detailed and inspiring report! That’s really something I need before the departure!!

British Columbia...
Level Contributor
202 posts
41 reviews
10. Re: Here now- Our first few days-Hilo

Thank you for the report! Looking forward to hearing more.

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