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
- Breakfast at Kens House of Pancakes
- Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. Almost across the street from Kens. Drive past the golf course twoward the water. See my post at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/liliuokalani-park-and-gardens/
- Walking tour of Downtown. Drive just a few hundred yards north until you see the statue of King Kamehameha in the park. Make a left toward him. See my walking tour post at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/downtown-hilo-walking-tour/
- Lyman Museum – Downtown. I consider it the best Big Island museum. Part of the walking tour in downtown Hilo. See my post at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/lymans-museum/
- Weiluku River State Parks, both Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls. Don’t forget these are two different parks although they feature the same river and are only a mile apart. The easiest waterfalls to get close to on the Big Island. See both my posts at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/weiluku-state-river-park-rainbow-falls-waterfall/ and https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/weiluku-state-park-boiling-pots-waterfall/
- Leave downtown for Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. Go north up the coast about 7 miles. This is a private botanical garden that is open to the public. Absolutely beautiful. See my post at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/hawaii-tropical-botanical-gardens/
- Back through Hilo Downtown to South Hilo bay – Richardson’s Beach Park. If this is where you are staying at one of my 5 homes, then you will see this out your window. If not, see my post here: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/richardsons-beach-park/
- Dinner at Café Pesto or Pineapples in downtown. Two of the very nice places to eat right in downtown Hilo. Enjoy the ambiance of spending time downtown before you go back to quieter homes after dinner. See my Cafe Pesto post at: https://hilovacationhomes.com/hilo-east/cafe-pesto-downtown-hilo/
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: https://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: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/hilo-panaewa-zoo/ and my Macadamia Nut Factory post at: https://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: https://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: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/volcano-winery/
- Enter Volcano National Park for limited time. As of January 2022 you can usually see lava in the caldera as it slowly fills up the caldera. As the employees at the visitor center where to walk to. However, if your highlight is seeing the volcano, this is anti climatic. After this possible lava viewing go half a mile farther and view the steam vents in the parking lot overlooking the crater. For my post on the Volcano National Park, go to: https://hilovacationhomes.com/activity/volcano-national-park/
- Drive back down Highway 11 and go to Kalapana at the end of Highway 130. It takes about 40 minutes from the intersection of highway 11 and highway 130 to the end of highway 130. Why does highway 130 end? During the 1980s lava destroyed the whole town and covered the highway. Today, brave souls have rebuilt homes. Of course there are NO utilities and access is a struggle.
- If you don’t have time to drive to the end of highway 130 or you have extra time, swing through Leilani estates to view the lava flow in 2018 that destroyed over 700 homes. See my post at: www.hilovacationhomes.com/ahalanui-park-warm-ponds-pahoa/
- 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: https://hilovacationhomes.com/hilo-east/ponds/