Visit to Coconut Island (family fun, beaches and snorkeling)

A visit to Coconut Island next to Liliuokalani gardens is a unique experience and fun tour of this historic island that used to be a place of refuge on the island just a short bridge walk from Banyan drive in Hilo.

Exploring Coconut Island is one of those sweet places in Hilo that is family friendly and easy to explore as you walk across the 250-foot walking bridge directly to the island from Banyan Drive. Coconut Island is very kid friendly with a large grassy area in the middle, picnic tables and some pavilions that you can reserve through the county and little beach areas to swim and play in. You can easily enjoy a few hours or entire day on the island and enjoying the small beaches here and other fun places for kids to enjoy some fun time on the island off Banyan Drive.

A fun visit to Coconut Island and Banyan Drive in Hilo, Hawaii

History of Coconut Island in Hilo

Coconut Island in Hawaiian is called Moku Ola or Moku meaning “Island” and Ola translated into “Life”. The more common name of Coconut island is derived from all the coconut trees that were planted on the island and thrived in this bay environment. Coconut Island was historically a place of refuge on the island and included an ancient temple on the grounds which are not visible anymore. As a place of refuge on the Hilo side, the island would be a place of healing and escape for locals and also warriors to avoid being harmed or killed while staying on the island.  Many ancient Hawaiians would bury their children’s piko or umbilical cords in the rocks which is a sacred custom to ancient Hawaiians. The pikos or umbilical cords were buried deep along the rocks so rats could not get to them directly.

Separate from the rest of the area off Banyan, there used to be a ferry system to the island and this was eventually replaced with a long cement bridge and making access to the island easy and fast. On Boys Day in Hawaii the bridge is very colorfully decorated with large flying carp and fish images to signify a long and healthy life to the boys on the island. Coconut Island in Hilo is festive on those days and other big events that celebrate Hawaiian culture like the Kamehameha festival, Coconut festival and the World Peach Festival.

There are a variety of small and large festivals and events that happen on the island year round and it is a popular gathering spot for families to have a picnic, enjoy the small coves, go swimming or some other fun activity on the island.

Coconut Island FAQ

Parking is just off the island and across the bridge, you can park on the street if the lot is full

There are no life guards on site so be careful on swimming in the area

There are picnic tables and grill on site

There is also restrooms and shower facilities

Here’s an interesting coconut tree marker to the Tsunami events on the Big Island

What to see and do visiting Coconut Island

Visit to Coconut Island – fun things to do on the island

It’s fun to walk around the island, check out the lovely views and enjoy the simple life here with local kids jumping off the lava tower, picnics on the ground and even taking some lovely photos of the coastline, bay and Hilo in the background.

The Island is small and easy to walk around, popular things to do on the island include:

Packing a nice picnic and enjoy a private spot with views, there are also bbq pits located at the picnic tables

Play on the two little beach cove areas that you’ll come across on the island

Jump the lava tower into the bay (A popular pass time with local kids and adults). On the far left side of the island is a stone tower that local kids love to climb and jumping the two different levels into the deep part of the bay surrounding the tower.

Enjoy some outdoor adventure around Coconut Island like sailing, kayaking or SUP boarding with rentals available at the nearby hotels

Enjoy the coastal views of the bay and Hilo downtown area

Local kids also jump on the bridge causeway which isn’t advisable but done.

You can also rent kayaks or SUP boards from an outfitter close by at the Naniloa hotel to paddle around the island and scenic bay area and spend some time on the water.

Go search for colorful shells you can find in the small beach coves

Here’s a walking tour around Coconut Island below

You can also rent kayaks and sup boards close by on Banyan drive

Check out this fun video of local kids enjoying jumping off the lava tower in Coconut island, a simple but fun pass time on the island.

Details to visiting Coconut Island

The island is very busy with family activities and gatherings on the weekends and is relatively quiet during the week. End of day and enjoying sunset on Hilo Bay and Hamakua coast is also a popular timeframe to visit and walk around the adjoining Liliuokalani Gardens.

Directions getting to Coconut Island in Hilo

Coconut Island is accessible by a walking bridge through Banyan Drive and just off Liliuokalani Gardens. Address to map on Google is 77 Keliipio Place, Hilo HI 96720. There is a small parking area before the bridge and other off street parking.

Parking around Coconut Island

Parking is limited in the lot next to the pedestrian bridge to the island. Directly in front of the island is a small parking area and if it is filled drive around Liliuokalani park for more open spots or even Banyan drive where all the Hilo hotels are located. From there it is an easy walk to the island, but you can drop things off at the bridge area if you have a lot of things that you are bringing to the island.

Access the island through the paved walking bridge from the parking lot.

Other tips to visiting Coconut Island

There are two small coves for beach fun and swimming on the island

The large stone wall is also a popular spot to climb and jump into the small bay which is also deep

You can rent kayaks, SUPs and other watercraft from the hotel Naniloa and the outfitter called Kapoho Kine Adventure which also does adventure experience around HIlo Bay and other fun activities in the area.

There are picnic tables and pavilions on the island which can be reserved with Parks and Recreation.

There are toilet and shower facilities also available on the island but there are no lifeguard stations here.

There are garbage cans at the pavilions or restroom areas, please leave your trash here or pack it away.

More tower jumping fun on Coconut Island in Hilo

What else to see around Coconut Island area

What else to see around Coconut Island area

You can check out a variety of attraction close by to Coconut island and around Banyan drive to include:

A stroll through the Japanese garden at Liliuokalani Gardens and explore the many bridges, pagodas, tea house, torii gates and other Japanese ornaments around this beautiful park.

Here’s a look at Liliu’okalani gardens right next to Coconut Island and worth the walk and views

Banyan drive walk with the historic Banyan trees.

A family friendly beach at Reeds Bay Beach Park

Hilo beaches like Carlsmith Beach park and Richardson Ocean Park

Enjoy pau hana and drinks at bars and restaurants at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel or the Naniloa Doubletree Inn with Happy Hour specials or dining at their signature restaurants.

Explore the Kaumana Caves above Hilo town

Visit Hilo’s old town

Visit all the waterfalls on the east side and the island.

For more Hilo fun, check out my post on things to do around Hilo here for an inside look of popular attractions, downtown Hilo and historic places to visit around town.

Explore the Puna District of the Big Island.

What to eat here close to Coconut Island?

People bring their own foods to grill or potluck style food. If you love poke, check out the fresh and delicious poke from Suisan Fish Market close by and worth getting some poke bowls to go.

Check out the ono poke foods at Suisan Fish Market below

Check out this fun aerial video capturing Coconut island from above with Big Island Pulse

Have you visited Coconut Island in Hilo?

Enjoyed your visit to Coconut Island, Hawaii or any other tips to share? Please share on the comments below.

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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.