One of the largest towns on the island of Hawaii, Hilo is on the northeast coast, sitting in the shadow of the imposing Mauna Loa volcano. In spite of its location, Hilo is one of the best places in the entire state to see authentic Hawaiian culture up close, while it’s also a veritable paradise for anyone who wants to go on an adventure holiday. Although it’s not the biggest place in Hawaii, Hilo does have plenty to keep visitors occupied. There’s the amazing unspoilt beach, the lush countryside and the amazing flora and fauna plus its surprisingly large number of bars. Also, when in the town, you could always do a few water-sports if you’re in the mood.
Although the roads in Hilo are in good condition throughout, an off-road vehicle is perfect for driving uphill, especially if wanting to explore the higher points of Mauna Loa.
Driving in Hilo
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Much of the local traffic is centred on the town’s international airport, especially as it’s the most popular place to rent a car.
Cars are hugely popular on the island, owing largely to a sparse public transport network and the town’s remote nature.
Hilo has two main highways running through it – the 200 going to the west of the island and the 11 going southwards.
Highlights & Hotspots
Hilo Art Museum is the only venue of its kind on the ‘Big Island’. The museum houses dozens of paintings old and new, many of which were by local artists, while it also has an amazing view of Hilo Bay from the entrance.
Rainbow Falls is one of the town’s most impressive natural beauty spots. This waterfall is closer to the centre of Hilo than the larger Akaka Falls, while it gets its name from the rainbow which is created by the mist arising from the water during the day.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is one of the town’s biggest events. Held every spring between the end of March and beginning of April, it takes place at the local auditorium. Primarily a famous hula competition, there are also arts and crafts stalls, not to mention a parade.
If surfing is something you have in mind, you should head to Richardson’s Ocean Park. Aside from barbecues and snorkelling, you can catch a few waves here, although it’s mainly recommended for beginners.
Hilo International Airport is located around 1.5 miles east of the centre of town. It is the island‚Äôs main air terminal; serving flights to other parts of Hawaii as well as major cities in the mainland U.S. It has two terminals ‚Äì one for air carrier passengers and the other for commuters.
The airport is just to the north of Airport Road. Turning north, you can reach the town centre by the 11 highway and take the 19 highway before reaching central Hilo.