Hilo is Hawaii's second largest city and one of the most authentically Hawaiian towns on the Big Island. It's located on the east side of the island. While Hilo is not as tourist-friendly as the west-side city of Kona, there are Hilo hostels and some tour excursions are offered for visitors, including ziplining, hiking, and helicopter rides. Trips can be made to nearby Volcano National Park, and the villages of Pahoa, Volcano, Waimea, and more. Kona can also be reached in around two hours by car and three hours by bus.
Hilo hostels are mostly located downtown or on beach-lined Kalanianole Avenue. Downtown hostels are within walking distance of Hilo Farmer's Market, Hilo Bayfront Beach, the historic Palace Theatre, and Kress Cinemas (low price movies), as well as several cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums. Kalanianole Avenue hostels allow access to many of Hilo's best beaches, including Richardson's and Four Mile, and are just a bus ride away from downtown Hilo.
An important aspect in choosing where to stay in Hilo is understanding the bus system. Hilo buses run in only one direction, stop at each stop only once an hour, take a two hour break at midday, and complete their run around 5 PM. This can make getting around town very difficult without a car, especially at night. If you're looking to spend time downtown in the evenings, downtown hostels will help save money on cabs. If getting to the beach easily at all hours of the day is your priority, Kalanianole Avenue hostels are a great choice.
It's also good to be aware that it rains a lot in Hilo. Hilo is in fact the wettest city in the U.S., measuring about 130 inches of rain per year (about 100 inches more than Seattle). If you're looking for a drier climate, Kona may be a better bet, however the beauty of the rainforest climate in Hilo is truly unique and travelers can easily immerse themselves in nature. Try exploring the rainforest at Umauma Falls and Akaka Falls, the World Botanical Gardens, and the nations only zoo in a rainforest, Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo (admission is free).
The Big Island is also one of the best places on earth to explore the skies. Hilo has long been an important location in the study of astronomy and visitors can get in on the knowledge by visiting the renowned Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii Hilo, or by taking an exciting trip 13,796 feet up Mauna Kea, where you can explore the skies from the same vantage point as some of NASA's most powerful telescopes.
So wether you're in Hilo for the water, culture, volcano, rainforest, or the sky, the city has a lot to offer. So consider staying a while when you book your Hilo hostel. Aloha!