If you’re headed to Hawaii and want to escape the crowds and noise, Hilo town, on the Big Island is a nice detour off the beaten path. Hilo is still untainted by mass commercialization and retains its rural, small town feeling that makes for a decent day trip. Of course, this is just a small snipet of what Hilo has to offer, but there’s always next time, right? We jumped on a crack -of -dawn flight from Oahu to Big Island (Hilo) and spent a day there, returning on a late flight.
Ken’s House of Pancakes
1730 Kamehameha Ave. /Hilo, HI /website
We arrived in Hilo around 8am and were in need of coffee and something to eat. Ken’s is a popular breakfast spot with the locals, it’s open 24 hours and serves an array of traditional breakfast as well as local favorites. Of course, they are famous for their thick and fluffy pancakes. Folks, it’s nothing special here and not at all fancy but it’s an institution and they do have the breakfast basics.
Hilo Farmer’s Market
400 Kamehameha Avenue/ Hilo, Hawaii/ website
This is the place to go for local fruits and vegetables. They have it all and the selection is good. I always find something new to me each time I visit. This time, I was introduced to dragon eye fruit (longan) which is similar in texture and flavor to lychee (my favorite). Below are the branches from which the fruit grows.
Hilo Flower Market
400 Kamehameha Ave/Hilo, Hawaii
Right across the street from the farmer’s market is a small flower market stocked with anthuriums, lilies, orchids and a few others. This is the best place to pick up a bundle of fresh flowers. Not only are they all beautiful, but the prices are very reasonable as well.
Wailuku River State Park/website
After the market excursion, head west of downtown Hilo on Waianuene Avenue toward Rainbow Falls. It’s an easy waterfall to see and requires no hiking if you’re not up for it. The mist from the falls usually produces rainbows but not on this day. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful sight.
We opted to take a short walk up to the Boiling Pots area above the falls. On the way, we saw this massive banyan tree and loads of ginger plants perfuming the air along the walk.
Above the waterfall at the Boiling Pots. On occasion, you’ll see a few people cooling off in the water.
Big Island Candies
585 Hinano Street/ Hilo, Hawaii/ website
By this time, you’re going to be ready for an afternoon pick-me-up. Program that GPS and find your way to Big Island Candies for sweet treats. They have a coffee bar and huge selection of locally made candies, cookies, and chocolates. I remember back in the day when they just did shortbread cookies. They were famous for their buttery macadamia shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate. Simply delicious. Since then, the selection has exploded and there’s something for everyone and so many options it can be a challenge to decide which ones make it back with you.