Hilo's activities

Hilo Hawaii Activities in 2 Days

Hilo Hawaii Activities in 2 Days


To cover Hilo and East Big Island in 2 days isn’t easy.  To be the most efficient we need to divide up Hilo into 2 geographical areas.


Day 1:  Downtown Hilo and surrounding area

Day 2:  Volcano National Park and Kalapana lava flows


DAY 1: Downtown Hilo and Surrounding Area


Day 2:  Volcano Day!

  • Start at Highway 11 and the coast (Ken’s Pancakes on the corner).
  • Lava tube at Kaumana Caves State Park.  You go up Highway 11 (main road past airport, up to Volcano National Park and to South Big Island) – just a couple miles and turn into town.  It is a little “park” with a lava tube much nicer than the more popular Thuston tube in Volcano National Park.  You must bring a flashlight and OFF (mosquito spray).  See my post at: http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/kaumana-caves-state-park/
  • Go up Highway 11, stopping briefly at Hilo Zoo and Macadamia Nut Factory.  Both are free and close to Highway 11.  The trick is spending just 20 minutes at each.  However, if it is lunch time and you are looking to eat somewhere, the Macadamia Nut Factory has a small cafe and is a pretty place for a light lunch.  See my zoo post at:  http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/hilo-panaewa-zoo/ and my Macadamia Nut Factory post at: http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/mauna-loa-macadamia-nut-company/
  • Stop at Hilo Coffee Mill.  If you like coffee and want to see a cute example of an operating mill in the room next door to the shop.  It is right off highway 11.  See my post at:  http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/hilo-coffee-mill/
  • Booze up at Volcano Winery and have lunch in the town of Volcano.  This is just past the entrance of the Volcano National Park.  The wine is a bit odd, but the area is beautiful, the shop is cute, the price is right and the snacks are great.  Again, the trick is getting in and out quickly.  No need to linger here.  See my post at: http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/volcano-winery/
  • Enter Volcano National Park for limited time.  It will sound bad, but if your highlight is seeing the volcano, this is anti climatic.  Unless you get VERY lucky and the lava pool is close to the top, you don’t see lava.  It is usually about 100′ below the top and all you see is smoke and a glow.  After stopping briefly at the park house, go half a mile farther and view the steam vents in the parking lot overlooking the crater.  For the best viewing into the crater, go another mile or two to the Jagger museum and overlook.  If you don’t see lava jumping up, move on.  For real lava, you need to go to the coast.  See the next activity, below.  For my post on the Volcano National Park, go to: http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/volcano-national-park/
  • Drive back down Highway 11 and go to Kalapana at the end of Highway 130.  When you are at the end of Highway 130 you have a choice.  If you don’t have time or energy to bike 8 miles on gravel roads (some hard pack and some not), just observe and walk up the road to see how lava smothered a whole town during the ’80s.  Keep in mind, some of the best viewing is at night.  So even if you arrive at 7:00 you are fine.  The access road is open until 9:00 and you can get back any time.  This might be the only time in your life to see actual lava, so make the below a priority.
  • Rent bike and travel to lava flow entry into ocean.  This is an 8 mile round trip, but it is mostly flat.  I’m in decent shape and I could have raced there in 15 minutes.  My wife is in horrible shape and she struggled.  We got there in 40 minutes.  The average couch potato can do it somewhere in between.  Make sure you get some light if you will be going back at night.  I just used a flashlight in one hand.  This will be the highlight of your Big Island stay.  See my post at:  http://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/kalapana-lava-viewing-area/    See my post about other ways of seeing lava at: http://hilovacationhomes.com/hilo-east/see-lava-flow/
  • Dinner at Ponds on Hilo Bay.  A nice quiet restaurant overlooking a quiet inlet at the end of Hilo bay.  Excellent food.  My post is at: http://hilovacationhomes.com/hilo-east/ponds/