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[mis]Adventures in Hilo Redux

Back in January when Mr. Misadventures mentioned he wanted to take a photography workshop in Hilo, I jumped at the chance to return to Hawaii Island. (I didn’t even pretend to begrudgingly acquiesce.) I had such an amazing time on my last trip to Hilo that I immediately began dreaming about visiting again.

While the hubby was getting up at 3:30 a.m. for a 4 a.m. departure not to return until 11 p.m. in the evening, I spent four and a half days in Hilo largely unplanned. I mean I had a serious eating to-do list, but other than that I wanted to just enjoy Hilo without rushing around from here to there.

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Hilo-Side-Beach
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

We stayed at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel where I stayed last March (check all the wonderful things I had to say, they are all still true! Disclosure, I received a discount on my stay). The thing is, the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is the only game in town, there are no other hotels (to speak of) and instead of resting on their laurels, the Hilo Hawaiian continues to deliver excellent service (their staff is amazing), continuously renovated rooms, and a well-liked restaurant and buffet.

Their bar staff even gets in the game. They all have their own drink specials, sourcing local liqueurs, and fruits juices and making their own creations. I really like this hotel!

I started each morning sipping a cup of coffee as I watched the world wake up. Then I watched the sun fall every evening as I observed the local kids diving from a small concrete platform on a coconut island.

HiloHawaiianHotel_OceanfrontLanai
View from my room, photo courtesy of Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

The hotel is optimally located on the beautiful Hilo Bay, so every location on my giant food list, except Tex’s Drive-in (which was an hour away) where I grabbed some of their malasadas, was literally 5-10 minutes from the hotel. I really like this hotel!

While the hubby was capturing sunrises over the volcanoes

Hilo-Hawaii-Volcano
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

and on the beautiful rugged beaches

HIlo-Hawaii-Side-Rugged-Beach
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

They are out of this world at sunrise.

Hilo-Hawaii-Side-Rugged-Beach
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

and up above the clouds of the sacred Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea Observatory
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

And the milky way over Mauna Kea.

Milky Way over Mauna Kea
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

[See larger versions of these images on Mr. Misadventures site, Sel & Poivre Photography.]

I was eating, exploring, and meeting with old friends. I had lunch with Megan, a reporter and freelance writer I had met last March when we both went on the Hilo agri-tourism tour. Megan had just moved to Hilo when I met her and I wanted to know how life in this small town was treating her. Was she still happy with her decision to move here from Ohio and what were her favorite spots to eat?

We enjoyed a massive lunch at Hawaiian Style Café, a place I highly recommend. One suggestion, go hungry or go with a friend so you can split one dish, they are huge! I enjoyed a mixed plate with kalbi beef and fried chicken – and it was delicious! We get great kalbi beef in San Francisco, but the Hawaiian version is more well-done and slightly sweeter.

Hawaiian-Style-Cafe

I was happy to eat something a little different after having several meals consisting of loco moco! {More on my loco moco adventures here.}

I also had lunch with the lovely Ala from OK Farms. OK Farms was one of the stops on our Hilo Farm Tour last year and we became fast friends on Instagram. She is a passionate and industrious farm wife and mother and a friendly and generous tour guide. She gives tours of OK Farms nearly every day along with helping with farm operations and being a Mom.

Many of the best restaurants in town (and beyond, like Merriman’s in Waimea) use products from the farm as well as other partnership businesses such as Hamakua Macadamia Nut Farm and Rainbow Falls Coffee.

We met at one of her favorite lunch spots Puka Puka Kitchen where I had some of the best chicken katsu I’ve ever eaten. Moist, fried to perfection and not greasy, the chicken was perfectly cooked and was served with delicious garlic fried rice (I hear they do a mean curry fried rice as well) and a very simple salad with farm-fresh vegetables.

Puka-Puka-Kitchen

The rest of my time in Hilo I relaxed, rested, got caught up on email and a few blog posts, read my book, and just simply enjoyed the rain, the people, and the scenery. Oh and mochi too!

Next stop Kona.

Both Hilo and Kona are on Hawaii Island, sometimes referred to as the Big Island. And while it may be the largest in landmass, it is decidedly not big. Hawaii Island has many small towns where the greatest pleasure is to discover local treasures and local people. It is big-hearted with the perfect balance of things to do, visit, eat drink and explore. I am most definitely in love with Hawaii Island!

How about you? Have you been to Hawaii Island? How about Hilo? What did you like best?

More of my Hawaii Big Island stories:

[Disclosures: I was on vacation, but I did receive a hotel discount from Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, an airfare discount from Hawaiian Airlines, and a rental car discount from the Big Island Visitors Bureau. All opinions remain my own.]

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39 Comments

  1. I’ve never been to Hilo, but now I’m in! Wow, those are some spectacular photos. What a gorgeous place. I love that it seems much quieter, but yet it still has a beautiful hotel and some great places to eat. That’s my favorite kind of place to travel – not overrun with tourists, but still enough amenities that you want to stay a while.

    1. @Kelly, Hilo is absolutely PERFECT for that, if that is the type of spot that appeals to you, you’d love it.

    1. @Esther, it was with Canon, let’s talk if you are interested in that one. I understand about checking out other islands first!

  2. I’ve been to Honolulu, but not to Hilo. It looks incredible, but your husband’s photography probably makes it look even MORE stunning! Wow! Love his work! We haven’t been to Hawaii in over 20 years, so I think we’re overdue! Great post, Andi!

  3. Absolutely amazing photography. That picture of the love locks on his site is gorgeous. I love the picture of the dark sky and stars. Totally divine – and you got some fried chicken. In Hawaii!!

  4. First of all……the pictures are just beautiful. Lovely.

    I use to live in Hawaii from 1960 – 1965. Right after Hawaii became a state. I remember everything about it. Loved swimming all the time at the beach or the pool. I never lost that feeling of living close to the beach.

  5. I haven’t been to Hawaii, but it is definitely on my bucket list! Gorgeous pictures and it looks like you have a great time!!

  6. I have not been to Hawaii but it’s one of the places that I would love to visit in one of my future trips. I wouldn’t have a difficult time with their weather and the beaches, WOW. I’d have a blast there, for sure.

  7. I haven’t ever been to Hawaii. I would love to visit one day. Those photos are incredible, and that food looks so amazing. Hawaii is actually one of my dream vacation spots!

  8. I have never been to Hawaii, but I have seen how beautiful it is in travel shows. Mr. Misadventures’ photos are amazing.

  9. I love what you have shared about my town. Next time you visit, I would love to meet you. Your next visit should include the Vanilla Farm along the Hamakua Coast. Yummy lunches and a great tour of their orchid farm. A hui hou!

    1. @Carolina, I would love that! I was supposed to go to the Vanilla Farm for lunch but at 11:30 it was already almost 90 degrees and I couldn’t bear the the thought of being out in the heat! I will definitely be back and will reach out!

  10. Love the Big Island, especially the Kohala Coast. Spent 5 weeks Feb-March 2015, renting house in Waimea. The Hawaiian Style Cafe always has a long line waiting outside for breakfast, and is well worth the wait. Pancakes are the size of dinner plates. In Kona, we always hit Kona Brewing and Quinn’s Almost By The Sea.

    1. @Sarah, I drove the Kohala Coast for several hours and loved it! The pancakes at Hawaiian Style are as big as my head!

  11. Hi! my husband and I have fortunately been to the Big Island several times. We fall more in love with it each time. We will be back again in 2 years for our 20th and would love to live there one day. Your husband’s photos are amazing. Would love to know more about the photography workshop he took as my husband would LOVE something like that (while I could enjoy the island the way YOU did:) Thanks for sharing-his photos are fantastic!

  12. You’ve done such a wonderful job at capturing all that I love about Hilo (mostly the food, but also the awesome views and great atmosphere). So many people rush right to the waterfalls and then back over to Kona side, I think they miss so much of Hilo’s good stuff.

    Great post!

  13. I went to Hawaii and it was totally unplanned. Best vacation ever. Did what we want, when we wanted. It was perfect. The photos in the post are AMAZING. Truly talented!!!