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Hilo Side: Akaka Falls to Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

On your way back to the highway, stop in Honomu for some local-style shopping and a snack. Handmade curios and ice creams will delight your senses. Once back on Highway 19, turn right toward Hilo, about 10 minutes away.

Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the U.S. averaging around 200 inches per year. This old-style Hawaii town is quaint and bustling. Lots of great shops line the waterfront drive and the largest farmer’s market on the island is situated there as well. Tour Guide will take you right into the heart of town and give you history and attractions, such as the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus. A little farther along the coast are some beautiful beach parks like Richardson and Onekahakaha. Great picnicking, swimming and some good snorkeling can be found here. The Suisan Fish Market is famous for the early morning old-style fish auction. Be sure to take your time in Hilo as the shopping and food options are immense.

In Hilo, you will turn north onto Highway. 11 at the intersection near Ken’s Pancake House, a landmark eatery. You will see the airport and Prince Kuhio Plaza on your way out of town. Stop in and visit the mall and shop and eat if you missed it in town. Just a few miles north of the mall is the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. Tour Guide will tell you how this is the only rainforest zoo in North America. It is also free.

Super Tip: Gasoline in Hilo is typically 6-10 cents per gallon cheaper because it is the main port on the island. It is wise to fill up before heading back to Kona.

This completes this drive day. I suggest returning north through Hilo and back up the Hamakua Coast, through Waimea, and Highway 190 back to Kona.

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