Hilo, HI

  • Hilo, Hawaii
advanced search

Explore Hilo, HI

Nestled on the slopes of volcanic Mauna Loa, the old port of Hilo, Hawaii, offers visitors a walk back in time. Your Carnival cruise to Hilo welcomes you to low-key Hawaii, where life moves at a slower pace and people still greet each other on the street. A Hilo cruise calls on a Hawaiian town draped in lush tropical foliage and overlooking the placid waters of Hilo Bay.

  • Meander among the trees of Banyan Drive.
  • See a slice of 19th-century life in the Lyman Museum & Mission House.
  • Experience a tsunami, without getting wet, at the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

Things To Do

Local Attractions

Discover the exotic side of Hawaii when you cruise to Hilo by venturing out to the local farmers market, watching how macadamia nuts are processed, and wandering through a tropical botanic garden. See how Hawaii was created on an excursion to the top of an erupting volcano, where molten lava oozes from the ground.

  • Visit the famous observatories atop Mauna Kea volcano.
  • Smell the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers wafting through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
  • Tour the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, where Hawaii’s favorite nut is grown and processed.
  • See a volcano erupting at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Swim in a natural waterfall or explore the adjacent rainforest.

Fun Facts

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the only U.S. National Park with an active volcano.
  • Lake Waiau, located near the top of the volcano of Mauna Kea, is the only glacial lake in the mid-Pacific and, at 13,020 ft., it is one of the world’s highest lakes.
  • Hilo was nearly wiped off the map during the “wall of water” tsunamis in 1946 and 1960.

Within Walking Distance

The Port Area In Hawaii

Cruises to Hilo, Hawaii see majestic banyan trees along Banyan Drive, which were planted in the 1930’s by various celebrities such as Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, and King George V. It’s worth stopping along the way to cross over the arch bridge to Coconut Island to look back on the quaint old town of Hilo with Mauna Kea towering in the background. Continue on to the downtown area where a row of boutique shops and restaurants lines the bay front. Nearby is the Pacific Tsunami Museum, where volunteers who witnessed Hilo’s tsunamis tell their tales of survival. A few blocks up is the Lyman Museum & Mission House, a preserved missionary home from 1839. Learn how the ancient Hawaiians navigated the ocean using the stars as their guide at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii on the University of Hawaii campus.

Beyond the Port Area

Take advantage of Hilo’s central location on Hawaii’s Big Island and explore the surrounding area. The number one activity on this island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located nearby Hilo, Hawaii. The best way to explore this amazing park is on the Volcano National Park excursion.

Beyond the Port in Hawaii

Plan to spend several hours wandering the park’s trails that lead through rainforest to a smoldering volcanic crater that has been slowly erupting for nearly three decades. Just north of Hilo, you can enjoy the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden excursion. Nearly 2,000 tropical plants and flowers fill this 40-acre verdant garden, set between the ocean and a thundering waterfall. Watch for rainbows appearing in the mist of Akaka Falls, a 442-ft. waterfall in the town of Honomu. On the one-mile loop trail to this natural wonder, you’ll also pass by fragrant ginger and waving bamboo plants. If you brought your kids on your Hilo cruise, don’t miss the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, just outside of Hilo. Native Hawaiian birds, endangered mini-hippopotamus, and Sumatran tigers (who get fed at 3:30pm daily) thrive in the lush setting, the only outdoor rainforest zoo in the United States.

Beaches in Hilo

One of the best beaches in Hilo, Hawaii, is Leleiwi Beach Park. Ringed by palm trees, this black-lava beach has a series of tide pools filled with a mix of fresh and salt water great for kids on Hilo cruises. Hawaiian sea turtles are frequently seen here both resting on the beach and swimming in the ocean, making this a fine stretch of coast for snorkeling. Facilities include lifeguards, picnic pavilions, and restrooms.

Beaches in Hawaii

Visit two of the most beautiful and famous waterfalls in Hilo, a breathtaking scenic drive through an oceanside rain forest, and a refreshing plunge in a private remote waterfall, on the Waterfalls Spectacular excursion. The highest waterfall, the most beautiful waterfall, and the most famous waterfall—all will be explored on this spectacular tour. Feel the power with a close up view of the world famous Rainbow Falls before driving off-road through cattle country on your way to a hidden jewel! A 150 foot tall double tiered waterfall tumbles into an unspoiled mountain pool, the perfect place to relax as your guides prepare a delicious Hawaiian BBQ lunch just for you! After lunch enjoy a swim in another private waterfall location. Explore the rainforest adjacent to the waterfall or just relax before returning to Hilo.

Shopping in Hilo

Shopping In Hawaii

The Hilo Farmers Market brims with flowers, colorful veggies, and wild tropical fruits. The best days are Wednesdays and Saturdays. Head out to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory to sample and buy these crunchy island treats direct from the source. An aromatic and delicious souvenir from your Hilo cruise is a pound of heavenly Kona coffee, grown right here on the Big Island’s misty western slopes.

Travel Tips


  • Since Hawaii is part of the United States, money and language is no problem.
  • Hilo’s year round warm climate (average temperature is in the low to mid-70° F) means shorts, t-shirts, and sandals are the norm and a jacket and long pants are perfect for breezy evenings
  • Cruises to Hawaii visiting Hilo dock at the Hilo Wharf at the southern end of Hilo Bay.