Destination: Hilo!

Posted in: Big Island 2021, Culture & History, Environment, Shopping

Quaint Hilo hangs onto its small town charm as a residential hub of shops, restaurants and services, not yet willing to turn itself over to development. We like it that way, and so do the many visitors who slow down to enjoy its treasures.

Quaint, downtown Hilo [Image by Robbyn Peck / Hilo Downtown Improvement Assoc.]
Quaint, downtown Hilo [Image by Robbyn Peck / Hilo Downtown Improvement Assoc]

Park and poke around—don’t miss the colorful Hilo Farmers Market at Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street. Hilo is also home base for edible island favorites such as Big Island Candies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts—perfect for take-home gifts.

Expand your mind with island history, science, culture and fun found at Lyman Museum and Mission House, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, Pacific Tsunami Museum, East Hawai‘i Cultural Center/Museum of Contemporary Art and the Historic Palace Theater.

Hilo is also home to the nation’s only natural tropical rainforest zoo, Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. Last year, “Reader’s Digest” rated the tropical zoo the “Best Zoo in Hawai‘i” in its review of zoos across the nation. It’s open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll appreciate the many historic buildings, a few of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Natural beauty abounds at Rainbow Falls, the Boiling Points and Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens. And the beaches! Three of them are charmers, situated one after another—Onekahakaha Beach Park, Carlsmith Beach Park and Leleiwi Park.

For more restaurants, shops, accommodations, tours and activities in and near Hilo, visit Historic Downtown Hilo Walking Tour info is available at; get a brochure!

Looking for Hawaiian, Asian, tribal, tropical scenery and colorful batik fabrics? Discount Fabric Warehouse is the place to go. Their flagship Hilo store with a second location in Kailua-Kona and stores on Maui and Kauai carry the largest selection of Hawaiian prints on the island. 

One of the more favored items sold at their Hilo store are the Hawaiian quilt patterns by Apapane Designs, a Big Island-based design company. You can also find half yard pieces of Hawaiian print that are pre-cut which is quite popular with visitors who just want a little bit of fabric to take back home.

Hawaiian quilt kits in their Kailua-Kona store are a big seller and both stores carry a variety of fat quarter packs, Hawaiian patterns from Victoria Jones Collection, Asian patterns from Eastwind Art, tropical print home decor fabric, character prints, Hawaiian print insulated bags - all sure to make a treasured souvenir for you, a friend or the seamstress in your family. 

Discount Fabric Warehouse will also be more than happy to ship purchases back home for you.

In January 2019, Theresa and Mariner Revell’s long time dream came true. They opened Big Island Beef Jerky & Snacks in Hilo. “We love jerky!” exclaims Theresa. “It’s our mission to bring our customers the best quality, best tasting gourmet jerky and snack products in Hawai‘i. We carry over 100 types of gourmet jerkies including beef jerky, exotic jerky, vegan jerky, pork jerky and more. We also have local favorites including a large assortment of crack seeds, Li Hing mui snacks, arare (Japanese rice crackers), Asian snacks and others.”

Big Island Beef Jerky is known for their specialty, made-in-Hawai‘i goodies including “some of the best tasting cookies on the planet from ‘Ohana Cookies that don’t contain eggs or butter, and are made with a vegan margarine base. These cookies are locally made on the Big Island and taste wonderful!” says Theresa.

“One of our favorite jerky items are the thin, crispy, Hawai‘i-made jerky,” says Theresa. “It’s almost like a potato chip and has a delicious crunch to it. They’re so easy to chew and can be enjoyed by everyone.”

“We’re here for our customers,” shares Theresa, “and want each one of them to have a one-of-a-kind experience at our ultimate jerky and snack shop.”  

[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Big Island]

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