8 Things To Do in Hilo In Two Hours


View of Coconut Island from the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

The best part of living in Kona is the ability to discover a whole other world on the other side of the island!

My husband and I decided to take a staycation last weekend while we continue to wait for the island to open up again thanks to COVID19.

So, we booked a kama’aina “Stay and Play” at the Hilo Hawaiian and got an early 2 pm check in AND an ocean view overlooking Coconut Island.  We went swimming and had an excellent dinner with a view at Ponds Hilo restaurant, right off of Banyan Drive. If you want old Hawaii charm and Aloha, great service AND fantastic food with a gorgeous view, check it out.

If you read my blog and watch our videos, you know we just have to keep going to capture the beauty of the island, so we woke up at 6:30 am to catch the morning light on Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea in this beautiful historic town.  There is no rest for the blogger/vloggers!

You can see it all in our video!



1. Run to Coconut Island and explore

2. Run to Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens

3. Run over the Wailoa Bridge and see the boat harbor and famous Suisan Fish Market

4. Run over to the double Wailoa Park Bridges

5. Grab coffee at Cruzn Cafe

6. Jump on a RideShare bike

7. Ride down Hilo Bayfront

8. Check out Kaipalaoa Landing and see the lighthouse (Bonus-find out that Hilo got its name here and it means “to twist”. http://malama-kaipalaoa.weebly.com/historical-significance.html


We had such a great time and the area is just beautiful for photography and video.

If you can’t do ALL of that, which covered about a 2 mile run and a three mile bike ride, do check out Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens, a 24.14-acre park with Japanese gardens, located on Banyan Drive in Hilo.

In the video I say that Coconut Island has deep history-so I did some digging. VERY INTERESTING!

From Wikipedia: The Hawaiian name of the island is Mokuola which translates as “healing island” or “island of life” from the Hawaiian language. Moku meaning “island” and ola meaning “life.” It was the site of an ancient temple dedicated to healing.

Legend tells that anyone who was sick or feeling ill would be healed by swimming around Mokuola three times. In ancient times, Mokuola was a pu’uhonua (place of refuge), where natives or warriors could “redeem” themselves. Many native Hawaiians would also bury their children’s piko (umbilical cords) under the flat rocks here, so the rats would not find them (piko are often considered sacred to Hawaiians, as they are the connection to their mothers and to their blood lines).

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • SHEILA says:

    Aloha, you give great information and I really enjoyed reading your blogs. I have a question about Mauna Kea and can’t seem to get a straight answer. I love Hawaii more than anything ( I will remember your name when we move there in 2 years). I do not like to do tour guides and rather do things on our own. Can we drive to Mauna Kea for sunset and stargazing ourselves? I would rather give my money to small businesses (esp today) than costly tours. Thank you for any advice on this! Been to the Big Island 3 times and never got close to Mauna Kea! Mahalo!

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thanks Sheila: You can drive yourself up to the Visitors Center at 9000 feet, no problem. IF you want to go to the top, you need a 4WD vehicle (and many rental companies forbid you to take their cars up there). If you are bent on going up there, my friend Joe Webster Big Island Jeeps, rents them, but I think he has a 3 day minimum. We go up to the visitors center and star gaze from the parking lot…but if you want the high altitude thrill, go to the top. Just be safe.