Things to do in Hilo

Our most recommended things to do in Hilo

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

1. Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

This is your opportunity to swim in a lagoon full of abundant sea life. Join your hosts on a fully guided and narrated beach snorkel tour along the pristine Hilo coastline. Make 2 snorkeling stops and also enjoy island snacks and juices. The volcanic beaches are renowned for their abundant sea turtle population, and the brackish water bays and lagoons are home to a wealth of sea life including octopus, eagle and manta rays, eels, corals, and tropical reef fish. Your experienced snorkel guide will teach you about the beautiful and lush surroundings, how the beaches and volcanic islands are made, and about the abundant marine world which lies below. Newcomers to snorkeling and children are welcome. Your trained guide will teach you the basics and be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Children will be introduced to nature in a spectacular way.

Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

2. Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

3. Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

Visit Rainbow Falls and the Kaumana Caves before heading to your stargazing location. Travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, 2 of the tallest and biggest volcanoes on Earth. To complete your tour, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. Observe the deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture telescope, under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. Enjoy narration from expert astronomers, who have written articles for well-known magazines and worked at world-class observatories for decades. The telescopes are a true purist way to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide-field views of objects that are simply not possible with other telescopes.  Weather permitting and depending on what is visible in the current sky, you can observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more.

Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

4. Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

Prepare for an awe-inspiring whale watching trip offering you intimate wildlife encounters off Hilo's shoreline. Begin your journey at Wailoa Boat Harbor where you will set sail aboard the Moana Mea a'a (Hawaiian for "Ocean Adventurer").  Venture out of Hilo’s breakwall in search of these majestic creatures for an up-close and personal, once in a lifetime experience. Throughout your tour catch glimpses of Hawaii’s gentle giants and its winter visitor, the Humpback Whale. These fascinating mammals come to the warm Hawaiian waters every year to breed and give birth to new calves. While in search of whales, be delighted by pods of dolphins following and frolicking near your vessel. Before you know it, you will see one of these 40-ton giants breach the water for an unforgettable sight. Learn from your knowledgeable captain about the nonstop 6-8 week and 6,000-mile migration from Alaska, while encountering a few of the 12,000 North Pacific Humpbacks that arrive in the Hawaiian Islands each year for a season of mating, birthing, and nurturing their newborns.

Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

5. Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

On this helicopter doors-off experience, you will see the best of the Big Island, with views only accessible by air. See giant waterfalls flowing down gorgeous cliffs and active glowing lava. For those wanting to see Hawaii from a bird's eye view, this tour will take you there. Jump aboard the Hughes 500 Helicopter doors-off and fly over one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Find out for yourself why this is the ”hottest helicopter ride on Earth.” After over 35 years of activity, Kīlauea Volcano has made its mark on the geological structure of the island. Witness otherworldly landscapes like the incredible 8-mile river of frozen lava from Fissure 8 to the Pacific Ocean, the newest black sand beaches, and enormous craters created by recent events. Along the way, view Mauna Loa’s vistas, the beauty of lush Puna rainforests, and mesmerizing Hilo waterfalls. With no windows to shoot through, there is no better way for you to share crystal clear photographs and videos of your experience. Many of these Hawaii waterfalls are accessible by air only so you will gain exclusive access to some of the largest waterfalls on the island. 

Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

6. Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

The morning is filled with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. The views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue riding along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window before visiting Akaka Falls and the famous Rainbow Falls. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view and plenty of photo opportunities. In the afternoon, explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Halema’uma’u, and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, and take a short hike along the crater rim trail.  From here, relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the black-sand shore. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you’ll see views of South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay.  Finally, enjoy a visit to Kona Coffee Farm. Stroll through the orchards with your guide and learn about the harvesting and milling process while sampling a warm cup of Kona-grown coffee.

Big Island: Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer

7. Big Island: Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer

Start your day with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. Stop at the Waipio Valley lookout, where you can admire a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs that drop into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue riding along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view of Akaka Falls and the famous Rainbow Falls. In the afternoon, explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Explore steam vents and the Halema’uma’u and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, and take a short hike along the crater rim trail. Then relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, where you can spot marine life from the black-sand shore.

Hilo: Dolphin Adventure and Tropical Reef Snorkel Boat Tour

8. Hilo: Dolphin Adventure and Tropical Reef Snorkel Boat Tour

Make the most of your time in Hilo and discover Hawaii’s abundant coastline, bursting with diverse sea life including sea turtles, octopus, manta rays, eels, tropical reef fish, and much more. Meet your crew and board the vessel in Wailoa Boat Harbor, then venture onto the open waters where scenic views and coral reef await. Enjoy a guided adventure along the coastline and explore coves where pods of dolphins hideaway and often play in the wake of the boat. Stop off in one of these idyllic coves and snorkel in search of colorful marine life as you swim through untouched reef structures and sand patches. Continue your tour to your second snorkeling location and learn about the exotic sea creatures that lurk within the reef's ecosystem and along Hilo's coastlines including tropical reef fish, eels, and manta rays. Take in the breathtaking views of the ocean as you ride along the Hamakua Coast. Discover a hidden world under the surface of the water as you snorkel, raft, and lookout for dolphins. Throughout the trip, listen to your captain and crew share information about Hawaii’s sea life and underwater world.

Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

9. Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

The highlight of our Hilo adventure is a visit to the world-famous Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting continuously since the 1980s. Your guide will tell you about the history of the volcano on your visit to the park and the Kilauea lava flow. On our Big Island Volcano Adventure enjoy the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Visitor Center, an ancient lava tube, Kilauea Iki Crater and more. We’ll take you on a drive along the famed Banyan Tree Drive. The trees you’ll see on the this road were planted by various local Hawaiians, political and religious leaders, famous authors, movie stars and world adventurers beginning back in 1933. At Akaka Falls we’ll stop so you can take photos. This waterfall is 80 feet tall and nearly 100 feet wide, and flows over a natural lava cave into a large freshwater pool surrounded by thick tropical vegetation.

Volcanoes National Park & Lava Viewing Area E-Bike Tour

10. Volcanoes National Park & Lava Viewing Area E-Bike Tour

Experience the thrill of a lifetime as you ride an e-bike around the rim of an erupting volcano on this guided tour from Volcano Village. Explore the unique landscape of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see the Kīlauea Iki Crater with entry tickets included. Begin your day in Volcano Village. Make use of the secured parking space and restrooms before getting fitted with an e-bike, helmet, bike bag, and rain jacket. Receive safety instructions before embarking on your adventure. Follow your guide around the national park on a bike trail through the lush native Hawaiian rainforest. Stop at Waldron Ledge and get your first panoramic view of the Kilauea Volcano's caldera and the active lava in Halemaumau Crater. Next, continue on a paved trail along the rim of the caldera to the Steam Vents. Feel the heat of the volcano and get another incredible view of the volcano's caldera. Bike along the edge of the crater, getting vast views unseen by most visitors. Heading to the opposite side of the caldera, bike through more of the rainforest before taking a short hike through the Thurston Lava Tube. The journey continues down Devastation Trail to the closest viewing point to see the active lava in the summit crater. Finish the journey back in Volcano Village where everyone can wish each other an Ahui Hou (until we meet again).

Frequently asked questions about Hilo

What top attractions are a must-see in Hilo?

The must-see attractions in Hilo are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from Hilo?

The best day trips and excursions from Hilo are:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Other Sightseeing Options in Hilo

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What people are saying about Hilo

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 271 reviews

Sam, our pilot, was knowledgeable and shared good history on the evolution of the land as well as the volcanoes in the region. She also made sure all passengers had a good share of flying and sighting the various calderas. Safe and great way to see big island from the sky!

The flight was really fantastic! The pilot was super nice and told a lot of interesting things about Hawaii. You always felt safe and could enjoy the spectacular view. An absolutely unique experience and the highlight of the holiday.

It was really nice, no stress and everything worked great. The pilot even explained a lot about the country. I would have liked to see more but waterfalls and volcano was definitely there.

This was well worth it. As a solo traveler, I enjoy going at my own pace. I learned alot from the recordings. The gps is also on point.

Our tour was amazing. Our guide is extremely knowledgeable and made us feel very comfortable through the entire trip. He is great!