Wailuku River State Park Mornings, Downtown Hilo Afternoons
For those of you that are planning a time to explore the Hilo side of the Big Island, I suggest that you make a full day of it. When near Hilo, there’s a plethora of engaging and exciting activities to do, so why not see the best of both worlds; an early start in Hawaii’s gorgeous natural environment, and an afternoon of leisurely shopping and eating through Downtown Hilo. This is a great day activity to plan if you’re on vacation and on a time crunch, or if you’re playing tour guide to friends and family that are visiting you from out of town. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, here’s a fun day trip exploring Hilo’s hidden gems.
I suggest that you make an early start to Wailuku River State Park. Head West from the Downtown Hilo area on Waianuenue Avenue, and make your way to the park entrance. This 16.3 acre Hawaii State Park offers FREE entry and is open during daylight hours, 7-days a week. Your goal should be to arrive there around 8 a.m. to beat the mid-morning and afternoon crowds. There is absolutely nothing like witnessing Hawai’i’s innate beauty firsthand, and it’s a really special opportunity if you can find some privacy while doing so.
At Wailuku River Park, guests should definitely witness the majesty of the infamous 80-ft Rainbow Falls (Waianuenue), named for how the light reflects upon the falls in the misty morning hours; it creates a gorgeous luminescent rainbow effect. This area is full of Hawai’i’s mana (life force energy), so make sure to be respectful and peaceful in all of your passings, as you should be during your whole duration of time in Hawai’i. Hawaiian legends says that the cave beneath Rainbow Falls was once, and may still believe the home of Hina, the mother of demigod Maui. Throughout this park, expect to see gorgeous scenery surrounding you, and know ahead of time that it’s a really easy walking hike, marked by pathways, so unless there are physical limitations, everyone should be able to do this hike. FYI, this is not a waterfall adventure for swimming, so do not plan to swim here. Do bring water and snacks with you, and there are public restrooms within the park.
Once you’ve explored Wailuku River State Park to your hearts desire, make your way back to Hilo Town for lunch, and an afternoon of shopping. Make sure to check out the historical and local culture that Downtown Hilo provides.
Downtown Hilo is for sure one of the most charming small towns throughout the Hawaiian Islands. When Downtown, make sure to take your time exploring the interiors of all the charming storefronts, you never know what treasures you will find! Here, you will find a variety of unique small businesses; boutiques, art galleries, shops, and a variety of cafe’s and restaurants. On, and near Kamehameha Avenue, you’ll also find home to many historical and cultural sites including; Lyman Mission House & Museum (built in 1839), the Palace Theatre (built in 1925), the East Hawai’i Cultural Center, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, a great place for discovering more about the natural science, history and culture of the Big Island.