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Things to Do Near Hilo on Big Island

a large waterfall over a body of water with Rainbow Falls in the background

There are so many must-see places and must-do activities on Big Island. It can be a little overwhelming to decide what you want to do if you don’t narrow down activities based on your location. The Hilo-Hamakua Coast encompasses Akaka Falls, Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive, Rainbow Falls, and so much more. There are many outdoor activities and local points of interest to enjoy while staying near Hilo. Keep in mind that Hilo is on the green, lush, and wet side of Big Island so make sure you pack a raincoat or poncho in your suitcase.

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park is home to the iconic Akaka Falls. This 422-foot tall waterfall is one of the most famous waterfalls on Big Island. It is conveniently located on a very easy loop trail that is hikable for the whole family. The Akaka waterfall plunges down into a deep gorge and there are several spots along the trail where you can view this amazing natural wonder. Akaka Falls on Big Island, Hawaii, there is also another waterfall on this same loop trail within Akaka Falls State Park. It is the 400-foot tall Kahuna Falls. This waterfall is more hidden than the Akaka Falls but there is a small overlook point to use for viewing. This waterfall is the easiest to see after a heavy rainfall because the trees tend to shield most of this waterfall from view.  

Big Island Zipline Tour

Skyline Eco-Adventures Big Island Zipline Tour is located on the KoleKole stream outside of Akaka Falls State Park. This 7-line zipline tour takes you over two waterfalls and a 450-foot deep ravine. One of the waterfalls is the 250-foot tall KoleKole waterfall! The Skyline Guides make this tour even more unforgettable as you soar from one incredible line to the next.

Rainbow Falls (Waianuenue)

Rainbow Falls is said to be home to the Hawaiian goddess of the moon and mother of Maui; Hina. You might also recognize Hina and Rainbow Falls from the Legend of Maui Catching the Sun. The waterfall is 80 feet high and flows over a lava cave. This is a fantastic place to venture to during the early morning because many rainbows appear in the falls as the sun rises into the sky. Rainbow Falls, Big Island, Hawaii Rainbow Falls is located the northwest side of Hilo so it is very easy to get there and there is not much walking involved. In fact, it is less than 100 feet from the parking lot to the first scenic overlook.

Mehana Brewing Company

If you are a beer lover, you have to check out the tasting room of Hawaii’s largest independently-owned craft brewery. The Mehana Brewing Company uses pure rainwater that is filtered by volcanic rock to create all of their craft beer. Their brews include the Mauna Kea Pale Ale, Volcano Red Ale, Humpback Island Lager, and more.

Hilo Farmers Market

The Hilo Farmers Market is one of six farmers markets in the area. Over 200 local vendors sell produce, gifts, crafts, and flowers. The market is held every Monday through Saturday in historic downtown Hilo. The “Big Market” days, when the most vendors are at the market, are Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Hilo Farmers Market is the largest and most popular farmers market on Big Island. Farmer’s Market on Big Island

Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive

The 45-mile stretch of road that connects Hilo to Waipi’o Valley is the most scenic drive on Big Island and arguably one of the most beautiful routes in the Hawaiian Island chain. This coastal road is lined with waterfalls, canyons, water-carved gulches, and lush rainforest scenery. It is an experience unlike any other that you have to see to believe. Hamakua Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii


Maunakea is the tallest volcano on Big Island with an elevation of 13,796 Feet.  If you plan to drive to the summit of the dormant volcano, it is highly recommended that you drive a true four-wheel drive vehicle because of the steepness of the road. It is worth the trip because Maunakea is one of the best places to see the sunset on Big Island. After the sun goes down, stick around for a stargazing experience unlike any other. Maunakea is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. 

Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo is the only natural rainforest zoo in the United States. Endangered Hawaiian species like the Nene, ‘Io or Hawaiian Hawk, and the Pueo or Hawaiian Owl. This zoo is truly one of a kind because the exhibits in this zoo are designed to blend in with the natural vegetation of the Pana’ewa Forest Reserve. This rainforest gets more than 125 inches of rainfall per year so be sure to bring your rain jacket. The zoo is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and admission is free. These are just a few of the many unique places to visit in and around Hilo. Remember to pack your raincoat and enjoy every second of your adventure in Hilo on Big Island.