Why go to Hilo?
Hilo shines with its rich history and authentic culture, which is exemplified in its easily walkable downtown
It can get pretty rainy on this part of the island, so make sure you're prepared for wet weather
You'll get to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park via Hilo, but the city itself is worth a look
Hilo Cruise Port Facilities?
No permanent services are available at the dock. When cruise ships are in, however, helpful volunteers from the Hilo Information Center are onsite on with maps, brochures and overall guidance.
Good to Know?
On a practical note, Hilo has notoriously wet weather, so pack a travel umbrella. Also, resist any urge to take a souvenir rock from Volcanoes National Park. They are considered to have a spiritual quality, and the park is their home. The Hilo post office receives dozens of packages of returned rocks each year from folks who believe they were the cause of bad luck.
The walk into town takes about an hour, but it is not especially scenic, and there are no sidewalks. Instead, consider these options:
By Shuttle: On cruise-ship days, a free shuttle transports passengers to the centrally located farmer's market about every 10 or 15 minutes until 11 a.m. Roundtrip complimentary shuttles go to Hilo Hattie, the state's largest retailer of Hawaiian fashions. It's located in a shopping plaza some distance from the port.
By Bus: A city bus departs hourly, 7:10 a.m. to 11:10 a.m., from the Keaukaha Market just outside the port exit with drop-offs at the Hilo Information Center downtown. The last pickup back to the ship is 4 p.m. The bus costs $2, and $1 for seniors. It does not operate on Sundays. It's best to double-check departure times. Local buses often operate on "island" time, so don't plan on taking the last scheduled bus back to port.
By Taxi: There is a taxi stand at the pier. Taxi fare from the port to downtown Hilo is about $12.
By Rental Car: Rental car shuttles collect passengers who have made reservations in advance. Cars are picked up at the airport, a short drive from the pier.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Currency is the U.S. dollar. ATM's are plentiful in downtown Hilo. You will find two ATM's, close by and conveniently located in the S. Hata Building on the 300 block of Kamehameha Ave. by Cafe Pesto. There's also one at Hawaii National Bank next to the Pacific Tsunami Museum at 130 Kamehameha Ave.
English is the official language, but native Hawaiian routinely shows up in conversation, beginning and ending with aloha, which serves as "hello" and "goodbye." Mahalo means "thank you." As for restrooms, the one marked wahine is for women, and kane is for men.