Liliuokalani Park and Gardens
This guide begins at one of the town's most beautiful sites. If you're driving in for the day, you'll find plenty of parking along the surrounding streets and lots. And if you're staying at either of Hilo's main hotels, this is an easy, pleasant stroll. So leave your car behind and pick it up later.
Adjacent to the Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on Banyan Drive, the 30-acre Liliuokalani Park and Gardens was built in the early 1900s and is said to be the largest such gardens outside Japan. The site was donated by Queen Liliuokalani for the purpose of creating an ornamental Japanese park honoring the many hardworking Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii Island to work the Waiakea Sugar Plantation. You'll definitely find it peaceful to stroll around this Hilo sanctuary that always seems to be quiet, regardless of how many people are wandering the paths.
Connected to the park by a footbridge, the small island of Mokuola (Coconut Island) is a great place for a picnic and some limited swimming. Because it faces the east (as does the entire park), it's one of the most pleasant spots to catch a sunrise. Before the sun comes up, you'll spot locals flinging fishnets into the ocean just on the other side of the park, catching the early morning hungry fish.
Not that much of an early bird? You can still grab some pastries and coffee at your hotel and then head over for breakfast before tackling the day. You'll take in an incredible panorama of Hilo Bayfront, downtown Hilo and the rest of Hilo Bay.
Address: Banyan Drive in Hilo