Hilo tours and excursions

Discover the Best of Hilo: Unforgettable Tours and Excursions Await!

Situated on the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, Hilo is a peaceful town that offers a glimpse into the enchanting charm of Old Hawaii. Nestled against the captivating backdrop of Hilo Bay, this serene location boasts historic structures, charming local establishments, and an abundance of breathtaking waterfalls cascading down the lush green mountains nearby. With its tranquil ambiance, Hilo evokes a simpler way of Hawaiian life. Positioned at the foot of two shield volcanoes, Hilo has become a popular tourist destination, attracting travelers seeking an authentic experience and a convenient gateway to the renowned Volcanoes National Park and many other attractions in East Hawaii.

You’ll find these Hilo tours and excursions to give a better insight and visit to East Hawaii with these specialty guided tours and recreation experiences.

How to get to Hilo, Hawaii

To reach Hilo, Hawaii, you have a few transportation options available. Here’s a guide on how to get there:

By Air: The most convenient way to reach Hilo is by flying into Hilo International Airport (ITO). This airport is served by several major airlines and offers direct flights from various cities in the United States and international destinations. Upon arrival at the airport, you can easily access Hilo town by taking a taxi, renting a car, or using public transportation.

By Car: If you’re already on the Big Island of Hawaii, you can drive to Hilo. Hilo is situated on the eastern side of the island and is accessible via Highway 11 (Hawaii Belt Road) from the south and Highway 19 from the north. Both routes offer scenic drives through picturesque landscapes, so make sure to enjoy the journey while en route to Hilo.

By Cruise Ship: Another option to reach Hilo is through a cruise ship. Some cruise lines offer itineraries that include a stop in Hilo. Check with your preferred cruise line for available options and schedules.

Once you arrive in Hilo, you can explore the town and its surrounding areas using various transportation methods, including rental cars, taxis, ride-sharing services, and public buses. Hilo is a relatively small town, making it easy to navigate and explore on foot as well.

Explore the best Hilo’s Tours and Excursions

Small Group Big Island Circle Tour - Waterfalls, Hilo, Volcano, & Black Sand Beach

Small Group Big Island Circle Tour – Waterfalls, Hilo, Volcano, & Black Sand Beach

Experience this immersive, small-group journey as you encircle the captivating Big Island of Hawaii along the scenic Mamalahoa Highway. This guided full-day adventure covers nearly 250 miles, providing an opportunity to explore the island’s two major cities, Hilo and Kailua-Kona. Traverse diverse climate zones and native rainforests, ascending to the summit of the world’s most active volcano nestled within the magnificent Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Throughout the tour, gain insights into Hawaii’s rich history, vibrant culture, unique religious practices, fascinating geology, and the delicate balance of its ecosystem. Enjoy the convenience of included entrance fees, as well as hotel pickup and drop-off. Please note that the tour itinerary may be subject to changes due to factors such as weather, traffic, and volcanic conditions, ensuring a safe and optimal experience for all.

Tour Highlights

  • Air-conditioned transportation
  • All entrance fees included
  • Lunch, snacks, water included
  • Free hotel pickup and drop-off included
  • Informative, friendly and professional guide
  • Pu’ukohola National Historic Site (no stop)
  • Waimea and Parker Ranch (no stop)
  • Waipio Valley Overlook
  • Rainbow Falls Waterfall
  • Coconut Island, Liliuokalani Gardens (no stop)
  • Big Island Candies
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center
  • Kilauea Iki Overlook
  • Kilauea Caldera Overlook
  • Hot Steam Vents
  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
  • Captain Cook (no stop)
  • Coffee and Macadamia nut farm with samples
  • Kealakekua (no stop)
  • Kona Coffee Belt (no stop)
  • Kailua-Kona

Duration – 12 hour tour

Book this Small Group Big Island Circle Tour – Waterfalls, Hilo, Volcano, & Black Sand Beach

Elite Volcano Hike- (Hilo Pick Up)

Elite Volcano Hike- (Hilo Pick Up)

Immerse yourself in the explosive side of Hawaii Island as you embark on an exhilarating foot tour. The adventure begins at Kaumana Caves, a fascinating part of the lava tube system that brought lava within 1.5 miles of downtown Hilo in 1881. Step inside these dramatic cathedral-like spaces and witness their awe-inspiring beauty.

Next, venture to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you’ll witness the aftermath of the 2018 eruption. Enjoy a picnic lunch within the park, accompanied by the melodic calls of native birds. Then, embark on your longest hike, approximately three miles, along the Halema’uma’u trail. This historic trail starts behind the renowned Volcano House and descends down to the caldera floor, which underwent significant changes during the 2018 eruption. Since its establishment in 1846, this trail has provided access into the caldera, with notable figures like Mark Twain being rescued here by native guide Alex Lancaster. Along the trail, marvel at ancient tree ferns, some dating back 1,000 years, and keep an eye out for native bird species like the yellow ‘amakihi and the red ‘apapane. The trail is also adorned with massive boulders from ancient rockslides and eruptions, bearing the marks of past visitors such as Benjamin Boyd, a Scot, and John Webster, a California artist, dating back to 1851.

Upon reaching the floor of Kilauea Caldera, witness an astonishing rockslide, evidence of the 2018 eruption, and behold the grandeur of Halema’uma’u Crater. This crater expanded during the eruption, with the draining lava leaving behind a colossal pit that plunges 1,000 feet deep. Traverse the caldera’s edge, passing previous lava lakes and observing the gradual reclamation of the area by native ʻōhiʻa lehua trees. As you ascend Byron Ledge, take your time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the 1,000-foot pit that continues to fill with lava during intermittent eruptions. Along the way, seize the opportunity to capture beautiful photos and catch your breath at scenic spots. At the top of the climb, a bench awaits, offering a bird’s-eye view of the caldera floor you recently traversed.

The remainder of the trail leading to Waldron Overlook presents a gentler incline through the forest, providing glimpses of Pu’u Pua’i and Kilauea Iki. Conclude the hike along the old crater rim drive, now slowly being reclaimed by vegetation, and return to Volcano House where you can relax and savor the view. But the adventure doesn’t end there! Following a short break, your guide will take you to other incredible locations within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Explore the lava flow of Mauna Ulu, searching for Pele’s tears and lava trees, and discover the hidden Nahuku lava tube nestled within the rainforest. To reward your efforts, indulge in a satisfying dinner at one of the locals’ favorite restaurants in Volcano Village, just outside the National Park. Depending on the current eruption status, your guide may also lead you back into the park after dinner to witness the mesmerizing glow of the lava under the cover of darkness. (Note: This is only done during an ongoing eruption in the summit.)

Prepare for an unforgettable experience, immersing yourself in the volcanic wonders and natural beauty of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Duration – 9 hours

Book this Elite Volcano Hike- (Hilo Pick Up)

1 Tank Shore Dive at Sea Turtle Cove

1 Tank Shore Dive at Sea Turtle Cove

If your purpose in visiting Hawaii is to indulge in diving adventures along the picturesque and vibrant East Hawaiian coast, then this excursion is tailor-made for you!

Led by knowledgeable and experienced local dive professionals, this tour sets off in the morning, just a short distance away from the awe-inspiring dive sites. Following a safety briefing and an introduction to the fascinating marine life you’re likely to encounter, get ready for a leisurely exploration of the captivating underwater marvels near Hilo.

The waters surrounding Hilo have a distinctive quality, thanks to the infusion of refreshing freshwater springs that flow into the sea along the coastline. This natural phenomenon helps regulate the ocean temperatures and protects the coral from bleaching, making it an extraordinary environment to discover.

Hilo’s coastline is renowned for its brackish waters, which are home to a thriving population of majestic sea turtles, vibrant coral formations, and a diverse array of marine species, including octopuses, manta rays, eels, and tropical reef fish.

Under the guidance of your skilled dive master, embark on an incredible journey through this abundant underwater realm, ensuring that you have a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable experience. Uncover the hidden, unseen wonders of Hilo’s underwater world and immerse yourself in the magic it holds.

Duration – 2.5 hours

Book this 1 Tank Shore Dive at Sea Turtle Cove

Hilo Bay & Coconut Island SUP Adventure

Hilo Bay & Coconut Island SUP Adventure

Experience a nostalgic journey that is unparalleled throughout the Hawaiian Islands as you embrace the essence of stepping back in time at Hilo Bay. Enroll in our expertly guided two-hour tour, where you’ll embark on a captivating paddle amidst the awe-inspiring snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea, providing a majestic backdrop.

Immerse yourself in the captivating history of the last Hawaiian monarch as you visit the Queen Liliuokalani Japanese Gardens, a place where you can delve into the intriguing narrative of this remarkable figure.

Unearth the treasures hidden within secluded coves, marvel at the diverse marine life congregating in the tide pools, and make a memorable stop at Coconut Island, where further discoveries await.

Engage in captivating conversations as you “talk story” with our knowledgeable guides, who will regale you with tales that unveil the unique history of Hilo Bay, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of this remarkable locale.

Join us on this remarkable journey that transports you to a bygone era, allowing you to forge unforgettable memories while immersing yourself in the rich heritage of Hilo Bay.

Duration – 2 hours

Book Hilo Bay & Coconut Island SUP Adventure

Tropical Reef & Wildlife Boat Snorkel Adventure

Tropical Reef & Wildlife Boat Snorkel Adventure

Indulge in an aquatic adventure like no other by embarking on a captivating dolphin snorkeling tour near Hilo, Hawaii. Step aboard a 35-foot Small Yacht and set sail beyond the break wall of Hilo Bay, following a picturesque route to your snorkeling destinations. Your tour includes the expertise of a knowledgeable local guide who will accompany you, leading you to explore pristine coves, sandy patches, and intricate reef formations in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you’ll receive fascinating insights into the marine wildlife thriving in these waters.

Keep a watchful eye for the playful presence of dolphins and much more as you embark on this thrilling snorkeling tour. Your experienced guide will lead you to uncover the untouched beauty of reef structures and coves off the coast, granting you glimpses of dolphins frolicking in their pods. Learn about the exotic sea creatures that inhabit the reef’s ecosystem and the coastlines of Hilo, including tropical reef fish, eels, and the iconic manta rays synonymous with the Eastern part of Hawaii. As you luxuriously cruise back to Hilo, you may also have the opportunity to spot sea turtles, eagle rays, and other fascinating marine life that call the reefs and Hilo coastline their home.

Create enduring memories as you dive into a hidden world beneath the water’s surface during this exhilarating snorkeling tour. Explore the remarkable underwater landscapes, encounter captivating sea creatures, and immerse yourself in the wonders that await you in the depths of Hilo’s coastal paradise.

Duration – 2 hours

Book this Tropical Reef & Wildlife Boat Snorkel Adventure

Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up

Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up

Witness a breathtaking sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea while immersing yourself in the captivating world of stars and planets.

Experience the Wonder:

• Immerse yourself in the splendor of an awe-inspiring sunset at the summit of Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Pacific.

• Engage with your knowledgeable guide who will share fascinating historic accounts of the Big Island, adding depth to your journey.

• Stand amidst the world’s most prominent collection of research telescopes, gaining insight into the groundbreaking discoveries made atop this remarkable mountain.

Marvel at the First Black Hole Photo:

• Encounter the extraordinary opportunity to view two of the eight telescopes responsible for capturing the first-ever image of a black hole.

• Savor a hot beverage as you engage in a private star show, guided by a Celestron telescope that unveils the mesmerizing wonders of the night sky.

Capture the Moment:

• Cherish the memory as your guide captures a photo of you with a DSLR camera, ensuring you have a keepsake of this remarkable experience.

• Receive your personalized photo via email, allowing you to relive the magic of the moment whenever you wish.

Prepare to be captivated by an enchanting sunset, witness history-making telescopes, and indulge in a private star show under the vast canopy of Mauna Kea. This extraordinary journey will leave you with cherished memories of this celestial encounter

Duration – 6-7 hours

Book Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up

Tree-to-Chocolate Tour

Tree-to-Chocolate Tour

Discover the fascinating journey of chocolate, from tree to delectable treat, at our farm where we grow and craft 100% Hawaiian single-origin chocolate. Nestled on a 1,000-acre farm high on the slopes of Mauna Kea, just above Hilo town, our cocoa beans benefit from the nutrient-rich volcanic soil, adding depth and flavor to our chocolate.

We warmly invite you to embark on a scenic drive to our Visitor Center, where breathtaking views await, stretching from the majestic mountain (mauka) to the sparkling ocean (makai). Immerse yourself in our Tree-to-Chocolate Tour led by our knowledgeable guides. Explore our cacao orchards, stroll through our chocolate processing facilities, and learn about the captivating journey from tree to luscious chocolate.

Conclude your tour at the Visitor Center, where you’ll savor a sample of our white chocolate with nibs. Indulge in an exploration of flavors, comparing chocolates with varying cacao percentages. Experience the delightful nuances and treat your taste buds to exciting flavors like Milk Chocolate with Mediterranean Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate with Orange, and our exquisite 70% Dark Chocolate, among others.

Prepare for an enlightening and indulgent experience as you uncover the secrets of chocolate production at our farm.

Duration – 60 minutes

Book this Tree-to-Chocolate Tour

Volcano Adventure Tour (from Hilo)

Volcano Adventure Tour (from Hilo)

Go on a comprehensive volcano adventure tour, where you’ll witness breathtaking waterfalls, stroll along black sand beaches, and explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Begin your journey by visiting spectacular waterfalls, marveling at their majestic beauty and feeling the soft black sand beneath your toes. Then, venture to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where ancient volcanic craters await your exploration. Gaze into the depths of Halema’uma’u Crater and witness the mesmerizing formation of steam clouds as groundwater seeps into the hot volcanic rock at the Steam Vents.

During the tour, savor an included to-go lunch from a local deli, ensuring you have sustenance for your adventure. Drive along the scenic Chain of Craters Road, passing by remnants of past lava flows, immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes.

As the tour continues, you’ll venture through Hilo, a town once affected by tsunamis, and traverse the renowned Banyan Drive, catching glimpses of the iconic Liliuokalani Park and Gardens.

Immerse yourself in the full experience of this comprehensive volcano adventure tour, as you discover natural wonders, witness ancient volcanic craters, and soak in the rich history and beauty of the region.

Book this Volcano Adventure Tour (from Hilo)

Hilo Bay & Coconut Island Kayak Adventure

Hilo Bay & Coconut Island Kayak Adventure

Join a guided kayak adventure led by a local, knowledgeable nature enthusiast eager to showcase the unique wonders of their home. Immerse yourself in the history and natural beauty of old Hawaii, which sets Hilo Bay apart from any other destination in the islands.

Situated on the eastern coast of the island of Hawaii, Hilo Bay encompasses a large bay area. Overlooking the bay is the modern town of Hilo, while the Hamakua Coast extends north along the slopes of Mauna Kea, and the Puna district stretches south along the slopes of Mauna Loa. To ensure an intimate and personalized experience, the group size is kept small, with no more than six guests per tour, allowing for a one-on-one interaction with your guide.

After a safety briefing in compliance with PADI/NAUI regulations, you will be introduced to your kayak, where your life jacket and paddle await. It’s time to embark on this extraordinary water-based expedition! As you paddle, you’ll be surrounded by the majestic snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea crater in the distance, creating a truly mesmerizing backdrop.

Throughout the journey, your experienced guide will share insights into the history of the last Hawaiian monarch at Queen Liliuokalani Japanese Gardens as you make your way towards Coconut Island. Also known as Moku Ola, Coconut Island is a small island located in Hilo Bay, just off the shores of Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. Local families frequent this island to relax on the grass and enjoy picnics in the small pavilions. The two sandy beaches are sheltered by the Hilo Pier, providing calm waters for exploration. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the vibrant tide pools teeming with marine life.

Duration – 1.5 hours

Book this Hilo Bay & Coconut Island Kayak Adventure

Weather and best time to visit Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo, Hawaii, experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by warm temperatures, high humidity, and significant rainfall throughout the year. Here’s a breakdown of the weather and the best time to visit Hilo:

Weather Overview: Hilo enjoys relatively consistent temperatures, with average highs ranging from the mid-70s°F (24°C) to the low 80s°F (27°C) year-round. The evenings bring cooler temperatures, usually in the 60s°F (15-20°C). Due to its location on the windward side of the island, Hilo receives substantial rainfall, resulting in its lush green landscapes and abundant waterfalls.

Rainfall: Hilo experiences rain throughout the year, with the wettest months typically occurring between October and March. These months often have higher rainfall levels, with occasional heavy showers. However, rain showers in Hilo are usually brief and sporadic, followed by sunny periods.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Hilo depends on your preferences and activities. If you don’t mind occasional rainfall and wish to witness Hilo’s vibrant greenery and stunning waterfalls at their fullest, consider visiting during the wetter months from October to March.

For those seeking drier weather and more sun, the period from April to September offers relatively lower rainfall. However, it’s essential to note that Hilo can still experience rain showers even during the drier months.

Check out these other posts to visiting Hilo and East Hawaii

There’s so many other wonderful places and attractions to visit around Hawaii, consider some of these other places to explore below.

A Wapio Valley hike in Hawaii

Big Island Hike to Narnia

Free or cheap things to do on the Big Island

Family Friendly Visit to the Big Island

Top things to do in Kona

Top things to do in Hilo Now

Conclusion to Hilo tours and excursions

Conclusion to Hilo tours and excursions

In conclusion, Hilo, Hawaii, offers a plethora of captivating tours and excursions that will leave you with unforgettable memories. From exploring the historic charm of the town to venturing into the breathtaking natural wonders that surround it, Hilo has something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re chasing waterfalls, immersing yourself in the local culture, or embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures, Hilo’s tours and excursions cater to diverse interests.

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the beauty and serenity of Hilo through these remarkable experiences, making your visit to this enchanting town truly exceptional.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.