Travel to Hilo, enter the gateway to the Big Island

Quaint Hilo is the biggest town—the biggest small town, you might say—on Hawaii’s Big Island, one of the world’s most diverse and dramatic environments. In so many ways, the Hilo region embodies the Hawaii of lore: volcanoes, macadamia nuts, low-key style, traditional culture, black-sand beaches. And while no one wants to miss any of this classic appeal, Hilo also makes the perfect launch pad for deeper exploration of the aptly named "Island of Adventures."

Kick back in the American tropics

The Big Island is known for its slow pace and stunning beauty. The city of Hilo, with its verdant rainforest climate, small-town vibe and elegant old-fashioned architecture, provides the perfect introduction to island life. Meanwhile, the land itself couldn’t be more exciting. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the Big Island’s two most famous volcanic mountains, rule over a complex and ever-changing natural setting that is literally under construction. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, lava and steam pour from the earth—an unforgettable show of geological force. On the gentler side, one bite of the mountains’ signature macadamia-nut specialties also reminds you that you’re in a place like no other.

Unlock the Island of Adventure
They call it the Big Island for a reason. The sheer scale and variety of the Hilo region call for a plan. A custom Hilo vacation package can ensure the right lodging, transportation options, and—most importantly—adventure plans are all set before you land at Hilo International. Want to roam from Hilo’s quirky, lively shopping scene to a secluded beach straight out of a Hollywood fantasy? Or from towering volcanic slopes to a roiling wilderness waterfall? You can do it all here—and a vacation package will help.


Here are five shots at the real Big Island experience.

1. Sample Soursop (Yes, “Soursop”) at the Hilo Farmers Market

Over 200 vendors pack this stronghold of local food, arts and crafts, with the Big Island’s luscious tropical fruits front and center—including soursop, an exotic Mexican transplant that tastes like citrus with a touch of strawberry thrown in.

2. Ride the Valley of the Kings
The Waipio Valley’s links to Hawaii’s early monarchs give the “Valley of Kings” deep historic and cultural significance. Black-sand beaches, arcing waterfalls and steep mountain terrain make it a modern-day escape. Only four-wheel drive can hack some of these roads—so consider the popular horseback or wagon tours.

3. Travel Back in Time in Downtown Hilo
Hilo may be Hawaii’s second-largest city, but it preserves the genteel feeling of a small town from the islands’ plantation era. Stately palm trees line historic streets of antique wooden storefronts and crisply restored architectural gems.

4. Watch the Earth Move
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the state’s most popular tourist attraction. But, c’mon—even if you’re looking to stay off the beaten path, you can’t resist this. Hawaii’s only World Heritage Site deserves the title: here, you can watch the world actually being made, as live volcanoes disgorge molten rock. So hot! So cool!

5. Ski Mauna Kea
You read that right. At nearly 14,000 feet, titanic Mauna Kea sometimes collects a mantel of snow thick enough to ski or snowboard. This run’s for the intrepid—there’s no lift, no grooming, and certainly no ski resort. Pull it off, and you’ll have bragging rights few snow hounds can top.

See Deals »

Search for flights to Hilo