A rainbow is caught mimicking the bridge in Hilo's Wailoa River State Park.

Hilo’s Wailoa River State Recreation Area

The Wailoa River State Recreation Area, a huge area encompassing a spring-fed lagoon, is used by locals for picnics, pleasure walks, informal get-togethers, fishing, and launching boats. For visitors, the Wailoa Center is also an excellent cultural stop, with historical and local artist exhibitions.

Waves crash on the rocky, volcanic shorline of Wawaloli Beach.

Kona’s Beaches: South of the Airport

Kona’s beaches south of the airport are a motley crew. Worth a visit if you’re in the area looking for sand, you’ll find plenty of picnic areas and one or two spots to get in the water for snorkeling, swimming, or boarding. Here are directions, the best activities for each beach, and amenities.

A Blue Hawaiian Helicopter coming in for a landing.

Adventure Sports in Kohala

There is little in the way of organized recreation along the north coast of the Big Island, but what there is can be adrenaline-fueled excitement. Try an ATV or helicopter tour, or for a real wind-through-your-hair experience, a zipline adventure.

Old, rusted car in junkyard on Maui, Hawaii.

Dealing with Waste on the Hawaiian Islands

It’s not so easy to move heavy or big items across the ocean. While this makes Hawaii a thrift-store and vintage paradise, dealing with waste on an island is a continuous challenge. Some locals tackle the problem creatively, such as reusing old or broken bicycles to build new custom models.

The Kilauea Caldera, visible from the Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center Area

As they say in the Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, the very best place to start,” i.e., the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center. You’ll find helpful rangers full of information about the area, various displays and interpretations, the necessary permits for backcountry hiking, and a whole lot more.

Hilo Bay Hostel.

Hilo Hostels

Hilo can make a good base to explore the island: It’s only 45 minutes to Volcano and about an hour to Mauna Kea, and it’s at the beginning of the drive on the Hamakua Coast. Staying the night in a hostel is an incredibly inexpensive way to travel, especially solo or in very small groups.