Not going to lie, at first I wasn’t too fond on the town. But, after a few short days it really grew on me and by the time we left I didn’t want to leave.
The Town of Hilo
The downtown is a pretty little town. A correlation of old buildings sitting next to rivers and the sea. There is a river with waterfalls and a hand full of bridges from the north side of downtown that leads to the bay. Out front of this river mouth there is a small wave that is barely surf-able and is the only one in the safety of the bay. There are more waves on the outside of town in both directions, but we will get into that later. The water is green inside the bay due to the large amount of fresh water springs and rivers that empty out into it. The brackish water makes it hard to see for snorkeling. You are better of saving that activity for another place and time. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of drug use in the town. It is easy to see through the amount of “we can help” adds and the state of the homeless people in the town. Hilo has this old time farm town charm. Every day of the week there is a local market across from the bus stop. They have fresh fruit and vegetables, and all sorts of other trinkets. The market is huge on the weekends and quite a bit smaller on the weekdays. Hilo - siting on the south east side of the big island is why it is the brunt of all storms. Hilo is by far the rainy side. Nearly every day it goes from too hot to a pleasant rain with sunshine and rainbows in lushest green environment. There is plenty to see in Hilo and within a short distance from Hilo. There is a bus that runs all over and you can see everything from the bus. It runs about once and hour and it can be exhausting just getting from one place to another. You cannot take surfboards on the bus, and skateboards are an additional dollar. If you are looking for boat parts this is not the town for you. They do however have a Home Depot, mall, and what not. If you are looking for parts, you’ll have to make the trek to the Kona side to get repairs done. I highly recommend renting a car to do your sightseeing. Most of the cars in town will cost you about 50$ a day. My cheater travel trick is to rent a U-Haul for $20 a day. If you can try to reserve in advance, you should because they go fast. I personally make a mental note of everything I want to see and where it is by car. Then try and see as much as possible in the shortest amount of time to utilize the car.
Radio Bay- We tied Tahiti style to the wall in Radio Bay.
Radio Bay is the anchorage for transient boats. It is located at the far south end of the sea wall. On the sea wall side of the bay is a beautiful park where there is a rowing clubs home base (the old guys who hang there are awesome!). Many fishermen come to the park to fish off the sea wall. If you like to fish, it is good to know that you do not need a fishing license to fish in the ocean in the state of Hawaii. There are some protected areas and you do need a licensee to fish in fresh water or operate commercially. On the other side of the anchorage from the beautiful park is a huge ship facility. The facility It is loud noisy bright and ugly. The anchorage is for the most part safe, the bottom is sand for good holding and there is clean bathrooms and showers. You can either anchor out or tie Tahiti style to the far wall. The wall has tons of cockroaches! Tie up at your own risk. Many of the other mariners were headed to cold water after leaving Hilo and know that the cockroaches if they do get on board will die as soon as they reach their cold weather destinations. Besides the roaches … There are water spigots if you have your own hose. Shore power is available for 24 dollars a day upon request from the harbor master. The harbor master and general store is about a half mile or so away. The harbor master only except money order and cashier’s check, which is somewhat of a pain but both can be found in town at the post office. The bus stop is another couple blocks down the street from the harbor master.
Reeds Bay has a handful of resident mooring balls and is a beautiful anchorage. The bay is surrounded by parks. The locals come to swim in the fresh water springs that make its way in and around the little bay. We managed to row in and around them in our small dingy. Good place to swim or just relax with a picnic.
Coconut island is a small island in the bay. You can get there over a foot bridge, although we sailed there in our dingy. The island is small and has some history on tsunamis. We spent our time there jumping off a man-made lava rock diving board into a small pool on the east side of the small island.
Rainbow falls- Kook city
Rainbow falls is beautiful and most definitely a tourist attraction. If you go to see it, I would go on a week day to avoid the haules. Around the railing and through the woods you’ll find that you can easily make your way to the top of the waterfall. Once you’ve taken your gander over the 200+ foot waterfall… If you’re sure footed go about 100 yards up river. There is a 20ft waterfall and huge pool that you’ll have all to yourself. Some of the sections of rock have good deep spots making for good cliff jumping! The falls are beautiful and definitely worth the visit.
The caves are made from lava! Just a short drive up the hill from Hilo, just pull of the road, that’s it your there. There is absolutely no regulations at the caves, just a few warning signs and a stare case. I highly recommend bringing a bright flashlight per person so you can explore these beautiful lava caves as much as you can.
Mauna Kea Volcano Observatory’s
About one hour up the mountain from Hilo is the Mauna Kea Volcano. Half way up the volcano is a visitor center where you can get information about the site and explore the “mars” landscape. Head warning in order to go to the top you must have a 4x4! From the visitor center there is windy steep dirt grade before reaching pavement again. We decided to go up in our crappy rental car… Once at the top a ranger stopped and was really pretty mad at us and seemed like he wanted to give us a ticket for making the way up the mountain without a 4x4. I assured him that I knew where he was coming from. I use to live in the town of Mammoth where idiots would show up in there 2-wheel drive crap cars and have to be saved of the icy roads. I assured him that I knew that the car I was driving was crap and that I was keeping it in a low gear going slow and that I would do the same on the way back down. After grumbling a little bit more, he let us slide. It is worth it to make it to the top whether you brave the road or hitch a ride. The top is above the cloud layer and the landscape looks like what you’d imagine mars to look like. The air is thin and cold! And I mean 30 – 40 degrees cold! I recommend bringing pants, jacket, water and a bitch’n camera. There is a hand full of awesome Star Wars looking telescopes scattered about the top of the volcano. One of the infrared telescopes is owned by NASA, you can just walk right up and touch them. There is plenty of information about it in the visitor center. You can also get tours that go to the top to learn more information and avoid driving the grade yourself.
There isn’t much for surf in this area. There is a couple river mouth spots that are surf-able and talking to the locals there are a few long paddles to be made. The best of all the spots and most versatile is honoli’i. This spot is out front of the Mamalahoa hwy bridge. Along the north side of the river is a perfect left point break. On the right side of the river is a perfect a-frame and on the inside is a cute little reform where you will find beginners and is a fun spot to help you surf your way back threw the river to shore. The bottom is rock and slippery so be careful on your way in and out of the water. The I personally had a great time chatting with the locals all were friendly to me and gave me more info on different surf spots in the area.