Things to do in Hilo (Big Island) if you have a Hilo Airport Layover or Extended Hilo Airport Stopover
There’s lots to see right in and around Hilo if you find yourself with a layover on the rainy side of the Big Island.
Visit a Museum
Pacific Tsunami Museum serves as a living memorial, and a reminder for a generation yet to experience such fright. Tsunamis, Japanese for “harbor waves”, are a fact of life in Hawaii, especially Hilo. On 1 April 1946, and 23 May 1960, Hilo suffered devastating tsunamis that reshaped its social and economic structure.
Hilo Art Museum is the Big Island's only general art museum, and has a growing collection of art from around the world. It is in the historic Hilo Iron Works building with a breathtaking view of Hilo Bay.
The Lyman House Museum features a restored missionary house (hourly guided tours). They also have a small collection of local artwork, historical exhibits, and the 9th-best mineral collection in the United States.
Visit Rainbow Falls
If you don't have time to make it up to Akaka Falls, or you don't like hiking, Rainbow Falls is worth a visit. Try to visit early in the day as you have a better chance to see the rainbow created by the mist. Drive up Waianuenue Avenue from downtown, following the signs; if you pass the hospital, you have gone too far. Very wheelchair accessible, but the Boiling Pots will require some hiking.
Pay Your Respects to King Kamehameha
Erected in 1997 at Wailoa State Park, the statue of King Kamehameha is perhaps the most impressive of the four found throughout the state. It was a gift from the island of Kauai who failed to erect the statue due to the historical significance of being the only island never to be conquered by Kamehameha the Great. Standing at 14 feet tall, the statue now overlooks Hilo where the first King of Hawaii established his seat of government.
It was prophesied that the man who moved the Naha stone, which weighs nearly 5000 pounds, would unite all of the Hawaiian islands and be the greatest king of all Hawaii. Kamehameha, at the age of fourteen, not only moved the stone, but lifted it end over end, and he eventually fulfilled the prophesy. The Pinao stone, which sits next to the Naha stone, once guarded an ancient temple. The Naha Stone is located at 300 Waianuenue Ave (in front of the Hilo Public Library).
See the Lili'uokalani Gardens
Located on Banyan Drive, this authentic Japanese garden was built in the early 1900s as a memorial to the immigrant Japanese who developed the old Waiakea Sugar Plantation and is named in honor of Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani.
As always, make sure you leave plenty of time to get back to ITO Hilo International Airport and clear security in time for your connecting flight. Enjoy your transit city rather than whiling away the time leaning up against your luggage in the departures lounge.
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