Welcome to Hawaii. These are some of my favorite restaurants and photos from my visit to Hilo, Hawaii in February 2019. Or jump down to my diary entry.

About Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo is a town located on the east coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

My friends and I bought a small condo here last year.

I can say that Hilo is green and wet and the people have all been friendly.

Best Restaurants in Hilo, Hawaii

All of my restaurant recommendations are biased towards the downtown area and a fast-casual atmosphere.

Poke: Poke Market

Friendly owner. Delicious fish that sells out often.

Hand holding a plastic container that has poke and green avocado and purple scoop of potato

Poke Bowl in Hilo, Hawaii featuring scoops of avocado and Okinawa potato

I loved the scoops of purple Okinawan sweet potato with the salmon poke.

Fish and Chips: Mo’s Fish And Chips

The fish here was great: tender, juicy, and a crispy breaded batter that wasn’t too thick.

My friend Todd Iceton standing beneath a fish (fake) inside a restaurant

My friend Todd Iceton, standing inside the restaurant near the counter

I had the “Ono” which is a Hawaiian fish (and also what Tynan’s wife said the first time she saw him). The Mahi is also a good. The fries were average.

Each order of fish and chips comes with six pieces of fish. You can skip the fries and they will add another piece of fish.

Breakfast: Conscious Culture Cafe

Vegetarian vibes with friendly staff and an earthy feel. My favorite and only thing I ordered both times was Kela’s Platter: kimchi, scrambled eggs, cashew butter, and avocado over a bed of fresh vegetables.

Food on a plate from Conscious Cafe in Hilo, Hawaii

Kela’s Platter at Conscious Cafe, with scrambled eggs, avocado, cashew cream “cheese” (the white blob), sprouts, kimchi, and some salsa.

Bonus: 10+ flavors of kombucha on tap. My favorite was the turmeric ginger.

Dessert: Pandamonia’s Paletas

The guys I am traveling with are sweets maniacs. Every chance they can get popsicles or ice cream, they double order.

This is their favorite popsicle spot.

Industrial-looking building with sign on the top that says “WE COOL”

Outside of the popsicle shop Pandamonia’s Paletas in Hilo, Hawaii

It features over 30 unique flavors. $2 each, made with fresh fruit and cream.

White hand holding a popsicle

Coconut cream popsicle! This was my favorite flavor.

We have made a spreadsheet charting each flavor in an attempt to try them all. My favorite is coconut cream.

Ramen: Tetsumen

A spirited Japanese-calling owner who walks around on wooden sandals. Surprising interior design. Delicious ramen. I really enjoyed my fried chicken curry plate here. Tender, juicy chicken.

Vegan Ice Cream: Hawaiian Licks

Heavy scoops on the coconut cream-based flavors.

Three handsome, really fit gentlemen (OK one of them is me) in front of a pink background image for Hawaiian Licks ice cream in Hilo, Hawaii

We were featured on the Hawaiian Licks Instagram during one of our visits. L to R: me, Tynan, Todd.

The owner moved here from San Francisco a few years ago and is considering franchising the brand. You can also find their ice cream in stores around town.

Things To Do in Hilo, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls Park

Easy to see right from the road. Pull in and get a scenic view.

Waterfall with surrounding trees and vegetation in Hilo

Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii is an easy photo win.

Pro tip: Walk up the path and into the woods to see a fantastic Banyan tree.

Kaumana Caves

Lava tube caves are very special. I had never been inside one before and I really liked it.

Lower half of a man wearing pants and a shirt, and signs that way WARNING and KAUMANA CAVES

Heading down to the Kaumana Caves in Hilo, Hawaii.

Jungle scene, with a yellow stairway going down

Tynan pointing his flashlight towards the mouth of the major cave / lava tube

The majority of the hike into the cave was comfortable and interesting, with tall ceilings and a wide passageway. After 15 or 20 minutes of walking, we had to nearly get down and crawl. But it was never extremely claustrophobic.

Mostly black and dark, but a flashlight shines to see the vines etc

Coming out of the cave an hour later, it was dark. This was our view!

I would recommend this hike to everyone. You should take a strong flashlight and make sure that you have shoes, not sandals.

Richardson Beach Park

Shallow water makes for easy snorkeling. Black sand beaches. Appropriate for the family.

Clouds, ocean, a tree on the left side

Looking out from Richardson Beach Park, near the lifeguard stand. The beach is rocky but many people were swimming (myself included).

More Information

BONUS: Diary Entry: Morning in Hilo

There is a Main Street which we can walk to from our condo. Having a downtown area with restaurants and cafes nearby is a blessing.

I walked to one of the cafes. I ordered a breakfast platter with scrambled eggs, spinach, gluten-free toast, and a side of bacon. The service was pleasant. The food was unremarkable. (I haven’t reviewed it here.)

What was remarkable was the video playing on the television screen inside of the restaurant. Stacked DVDs with titles like “Birds of Hawaii” and “Underwater Adventures.”

The one playing is called VolcanoScapes 3. It features Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano, “the world’s most active volcano!” From the DVD description:

“Experience the agonizing struggle of those who live dangerously close to the Hawaiian Fire Goddess, Pele. The devastation and splendor of Pele’s most destructive eruption of the 20th century will captivate and amaze you.”

It was an arresting choice for background video over breakfast. To see houses on fire seemed like a strange way to wake up over scrambled eggs.

I ask the cafe staff about it. “We all knew what we signed up for when we moved here.” They told me about schools which were overtaken by lava. Farms they had worked on which are now covered 15 feet deep.

Later I saw wild chickens walking around the park downtown. Todd and I played frisbee here in the afternoon, which was fun and makes me happy. I like to throw the frisbee.


We took a red eye flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

Tynan and me (Nick Gray) on a flight, sitting next to each other in coach class

Tynan, founder of CruiseSheet.com, is less than excited to see my full-featured selfie stick before our red eye flight to Hawaii.

Our Minivan

Tynan organized the whole apartment purchase situation. He also bought us this sweet minivan:

White Dodge minivan in front of some trees, parked on the side of a road

Our Dodge Caravan that we keep parked at our condo complex in Hilo.

View from the back seat of a minivan driving in Hilo Hawaii

Tynan driving the minivan, windows down and listening to music, while Todd sleeps. I was typing notes on my iPad and really feeling #blessed in this moment.

Fresh Flowers Everywhere

Many of the restaurants had beautiful fresh flowers like these at every table:

Flowers, white and green and red, in a vase-type thing.

Local flowers from Hilo were casually displayed on the tables of many fast-casual restaurants mentioned here.


I like Hilo. Thanks to Tynan for help putting this together and being my tour guide in Hilo to show me all this stuff. I look forward to exploring more restaurants and activities in and around town.

Things I want to explore next time:

  • Pohoiki, the newest beach in the world
  • Kehena, a nude beach where you can also snorkel
  • Macademia nut factory tour
  • More nature hikes!
  • The West side of the island, especially for the night-time manta ray dive or snorkel
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