Big Island getaway: Hanging in Hilo

Relying on whom you ask, Hawaii’s Huge Island has 4 out of the 5 main local weather zones on the planet. Or all 5 main local weather zones. Or eight of thirteen subzones. However in case you don’t really feel the necessity to quaff some Kona espresso on the dry aspect, or to heat your toes close to the lava spewing from Kilauea, you’ll discover that Hilo is a singular zone all its personal.

Oh, I suppose you’ll still want to eat in the midst of all this excitement. There are lots of good restaurants in Hilo, but I was dazzled by the superb Tom Kha soup and tangy papaya salad at Tina’s Gourmet Garden Cafe, loved the pita sandwich at casual Puka Puka Kitchen, and happily indulged in the savory Thai curries at the New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine restaurant.

The Tom Kah at Tina's Garden Gourmet Cafe draws Hilo locals and visitorsalike. (Photo courtesy of Tom Bentley)
The Tom Kha soup at Tina’s Garden Gourmet Cafe is dazzling. (Photo courtesy of Tom Bentley) 

If you want to expand Hilo’s water world, take a short drive to nearby Rainbow Falls, where a photogenic, noisy waterfall will fill your digital devices with splashy images. Head upstream a jog more to Boiling Pots and you’ll see why Rainbow Falls thrashes so much — the Wailuku River hurdles down through a series of rock “pots.” And if the 80-foot Rainbow doesn’t fall far enough for you, head for Akaka Falls, a bit farther from town, which drops a dizzying 440 feet.

The Big Island may offer plenty of other spectacular attractions, too, but there are few things more delightful — and relaxing — than hanging in Hilo.

If You Go


Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots: Wailuku River State Park is home to two of Hilo’s most spectacular attractions. The park entrance is at 2-198 Rainbow Drive, Hilo;

Hilo Farmers Market: Open daily, but the big farmers market, with 300+ vendors, is on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Mamo Street and Kamehameha Avenue in Hilo;

Pacific Tsunami Museum: Open Tuesday-Saturday at 130 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo;

Eat & Drink

Hilo Town Tavern: Open daily until 2 a.m. at 168 Keawe St., Hilo;

Tina’s Garden Gourmet Cafe: Open daily for lunch, dinner on Fridays and Saturdays at 168 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo;

Puka Puka Kitchen: Open for lunch Monday-Saturday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday at 270 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo. Find details on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine: Open for lunch Monday-Saturday, daily for dinner at 110 Kalakaua St., Hilo;


Dolphin Bay Hotel: Rooms at this laid-back, low key hotel are $109 and up. 333 Iliahi St., Hilo;

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