What do you do if you’ve got 48 hours to spend in Hilo and have a tiny toddler companion tagging along for the trip? Actually, lots. First thing, it’s Hilo, so expect wet weather. Drizzles and rain is part of the small town Hilo charm.
Nestled along the pristine Kohala Coast on the Island of Hawaii, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel is a wonderful choice for those looking to mix the luxury that Kona is known for with Hawaiian history, adventure, and delicious delights. Of course, you could always do what we did for part of the trip, and just lounge at the pool and relax at the Mauna Lani Spa.
3:30AM they said. Meet outside the cabin at 3:30AM. That’s the conversation that I overheard while quietly devouring my scrambled eggs, courtesy of the Kilauea Military Camp. That’s all that I needed to hear to know that these people, who were also enjoying the same fine eggs, were planning a trip to see the Kilauea lava flow at Volcanoes National Park. I instinctively interrupted their conversation and quickly asked, “do you have room for one more?”
For Hawaiians in old Hawaii, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau was considered to be a place of refuge. It was where you went, or attempted to go to, if you committed an act that went against the kapu system (the ancient Hawaiian code of conduct). In modern Hawaii, residents often complain about the $250 fine when caught using mobile devices in their vehicles. In old Hawaii, however, entering an area reserved for chiefs, or eating forbidden foods, would cost you your life. The stakes were much higher back then. But, there was a way out. If you could somehow Jason Bourne your way into a puuhonua, or place of refuge, your life would be spared.
Jump on Hawaii Belt Road on the Island of Hawaii and you’re bound to stumble on numerous historical sites of note. One of those sites worth stopping for is the Puu Kohola Heiau, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962. This site preserves the ruins of Hawaii’s last major ancient temple.
If you could visit just one of Chef Peter Merriman’s restaurants, it should be his flagship Waimea location. Merriman’s Waimea has been praised by Honolulu Magazine as the “Best Big Island Restaurant” for 15 consecutive years. 15 years. Insane. And yes, the food is indeed delicious. Chef Merriman defined what became known as Hawaii Regional Cuisine, along with other notable chefs, including Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, and George Mavrothalassitis.
When in Kona, you drink coffee. You drink a lot of coffee. That’s what you do. Below you’ll find five coffee shop stops that we made during a recent trip to Kona. Do note that the locations chosen below were selected based on location and convenience. This is by no means a Top 5 list of any kind.
“We are the great Hilo Vikings. Mysterious and strong seafarers. Noble in our cause from the shores of Hilo Bay. We have bravely set out over treacherous waters to conquer, pillage, and dominate somewhere deep in our memories. We remember the ancient ways of the Hilo Vikings. This is why we are drawn back here tonight. Together by a deep seeded urge. A urge so powerful we don’t even question it. Our fight. We long for it. Tonight we celebrate as vikings.”
The above statement was the first thing that I read when I opened up the program to the Bite of Hilo. It sounded a bit like the opening narration to an epic movie. No movie here, instead, the Hilo High School Foundation put together a night of epic grinds suitable for Vikings near and far.