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Hilo trip report - long!

Chicago, Illinois
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Hilo trip report - long!

Days 3-4

Hilo and part of the Hamakua coast

After our time in Volcano (see earlier post), we drove to Hilo to spend the last couple of days of our vacation. Our B&B, the Old Hawaiian B&B, was very accommodating and let us drop off our bags much earlier than check-in.

First, we stopped at Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls, as both were close to the B&B. These were a great introduction for the waterfalls we would see later, although no rainbows at Rainbow Falls that day :). We did see locals jumping in the water to swim at both places. Both were very pretty.

Next, we started the drive north, taking the Pepeekeo scenic drive. We stopped at the Onomea Trail to take pictures, but did not walk down. Our next stop was the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden. It is pricey, but worth it. If you enjoy taking pictures, you will not regret it, as I got many great macro shots of flowers. We read in guidebooks about the possibility of taking other trails out of the park down by the water, but one of the garden employees, who was stationed at the intersection, asked/told us not to, so we obliged. I read the history, but am still uncertain of whether what the situation is.

After the Garden, we went to What’s Shakin’ for lunch. Great food, great smoothies, and a beautiful location. I wish I could open a What’s Shakin’ franchise here in Chicago! After lunch, we headed to Akaka Falls. Unfortunately the circle walk is still closed, so we walked down the stairs to Kahuna Falls first, and then retraced our steps on the way to Akaka Falls. Definitely worth a stop, even for someone who grew up going to Niagara Falls every year :)

We decided to make the drive to Laupahoehoe since we had some time before dinner (it was a bit after 4 pm at this point), and I am very glad that we did. The scenery along the way was beautiful – I wish I hadn’t been driving at that point so I could have looked out at the gulches! Unfortunately, we missed the Train Museum, as it closes at 4:30. The memorial down at the harbor was very touching and the experience of being down there and seeing the ocean’s powerful waves really put things into perspective during our visit to the Tsunami Museum the next day.

We stopped in Hilo for a bit and wandered around, and then drove over to Ken’s for dinner, we ate at Ken’s. Great good and ambiance and a friendly staff.

As I stated above, we spent some time the next morning at the Tsunami Museum. When we arrived, we were the only visitors, and we were able to really take our time looking through the exhibits and watching the video. It was an enlightening museum – very touching to hear everyone’s stories and interesting to see all of the old pictures of Hilo and the surrounding area.

We ate lunch at Café Pesto. A great focaccia appetizer and good pizza, although I think we liked Kiawe Kitchen in Volcano a little better. After lunch we walked through the Lili’uokalani Gardens and the park across the bridge. Then, sadly, we had to leave to go to the airport to begin our trip back to the mainland, but not before the customary stop at Big Island Candies! I did also try to make a stop at Two Ladies early that morning, but, sadly, they were closed for a few weeks. I guess I will have to try their mochi on another trip!

All in all, we very much enjoyed our trip to the Big Island, and even though we only had 4 days, we don’t regret making the trip from Oahu. Actually, I am among those who fell in love with the Big Island and I would choose it over Oahu to visit again – although hopefully I won’t have to make such a choice! :)

oregon
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1. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

Great reports - thank you. We will be there in 2 weeks!

Marlton, New Jersey
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2. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

I wonder if Hawaiian Botantical Gardens is better than World Gardens which is near it. Also is Akaka or Rainbow Falls hard to find? Where is Big Island Candies? Did you get to see the Hilo Farmer Market? Also what is Two Ladies? Do you think Chain of Craters Road is better than going to the old Kalapana Site or to Devastation Trail? I can only do one. Sorry for all the questions.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

From what I understand, the Tropical Botanical Garden is better than the World Gardens because it's older, and therefore the plants have had more time to mature. The Tropical Botanical Gardens is along the scenic drive, whereas the World Gardens are a bit farther north, past Akaka Falls, at Umauma Falls.

Big Island Candies is in Hilo: http://www.bigislandcandies.com/

We passed by a smaller version of the market in Hilo, but we were there on Monday and Tuesday. It's largest on Wednesday and Saturday.

Two Ladies is a bakery that sells mochi: www.yelp.com/biz/two-ladies-kitchen-hilo

We didn't walk Devastation Trail. Although I strongly recommend spending at least one full day in VNP, if I only have time to do one thing on your list, I would drive Chain of Craters Road.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

Sorry, I forgot to post this, but if anyone wants to see our pictures from the trip (I found it fun to look at some beforehand), you can visit flickr.com/photos/…

Marlton, New Jersey
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5. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

Thank you for the info. We also wanted to stop at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo. Is Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls hard to find?

I can't do everything at VNP, but I am going to try to do one or two main things like the Lava Tube or Visitors Center and something else. I wanted to grab a quick bite to eat somewhere. In my opinion, the BI has a lot of variety and a lot to do. I would like to also see Parker Ranch at some point. I don't know if you got to see that. Thank you for your info.

Marlton, New Jersey
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6. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

I looked at your pictures. Very cool! I saw the picture of the Hawaiian woman painting. Where was that? We are driving from Waikoloa through Kona starting at 5am and making a stop at Punaluu Black Sand Beach. I saw your pictures of the turtles. Are they always there? Then we are going to be at VNP for about 2 hours in that area. I thought that we may do the Lava Tube, Crater Rim Drive, Visitor Center, and drive a portion of Chain of Craters Road in that time. Does that sound like a good idea? Then spend 2-3 hours in the Hilo area visiting the Farm Market, Banyan Drive, Akaka and Rainbow Falls, and that area. Maybe the macadamian nut place and the candy place. Are the falls hard to find? Then we will take that drive and spend 45 minutes to an hour at the tropical gardens (we can only do one of them). A stop at Whats Shaking. Then drive down the Hamakaa coast and make a 45 minute stop at Parker Ranch. Then drive back to our hotel at Waikoloa. I know it is a long day..probably we will be going from 5am until 7pm at night. I think it is 6 hours of driving and 7 hours for stops.

Portland, OR
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7. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

Cara,

Again, great job, you did your homework before going!

That's my Aunty June at the Tsunami Museum, talking about handing my cousin while she was a baby up to my uncle on the roof.

Glad you stopped at Laupahoehoe, I sometimes recommend it, the park and the memorial is small, but for me an important and poignant reminder of those children and the lessons learned about respect for the ocean.

Angeleyes,

HTBG is MUCH better than World.

None of the main waterfalls are hard to find, all are clearly labeled.

Big Island Candies is just off the same road that takes you to the Hilo airport. Literally anyone in Hilo can tell you where it is.

Two Ladies is a small kitchen that makes manju and mochi and is the best in town. I don’t know why they were closed, but if they are open worth a stop. Parking is limited to on street in front, so you want to approach going toward the airport/Waiakea.

Punalu’u frequently has honu, but one can never count on seeing them anywhere for sure, but odds are very good.

Your trip basically sounds like a rush. I would recommend if you want to do this much on the east side, spend a night on the east side. Grab a cheap hotel room from Seaside or HHH and spend one night on the Hilo side, then you can add the entry at night. Then the next day you can do the HTBG, the Falls, Parker, Waipio etc on your way back over to Waikoloa.

Good luck and happy travels!

8. Re: Hilo trip report - long!

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