Being able to fly direct to Hilo from LAX (via United) made it an ideal first stop on my road trip across Hawaii Island. The main draw to Hilo, of course, is its close proximity to the out of this world experience that is hiking the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is currently oozing the fiery 61G lava flow.

VIEWS OF COCONUT ISLAND/THE PACIFIC OCEAN/MAUNAKEA FROM MY BALCONY AT HILO HAWAIIAN HOTEL.

VIEWS OF COCONUT ISLAND/THE PACIFIC OCEAN/MAUNAKEA FROM MY BALCONY AT HILO HAWAIIAN HOTEL.

Located on historic Banyan Drive, just a few minutes walk from the gorgeous Japanese Liliuokalani Gardens, is the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel - my lovely home base for the east side portion of the road trip. If you know me, you know I love a good breakfast buffet (because ordering one main is not fair when you want to eat everything!) and the hotel's Queen's Court Restaurant has an incredible one. I had a limited amount of time in Hawaii and I had a lot of things on my "to eat" list, which included all the local fruits like rambutan, papaya, pineapple, etc., and since this buffet is farmers market to table, I got to gluttonously check a lot off said list.

Note: you have not tried a pineapple until you've had a pineapple in Hawaii. SO SWEET. SO JUICY.

HILO FARMER'S MARKET.

HILO FARMER'S MARKET.

You know how most of the best farmers markets start super early and finish at like noon? Well, Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best and does open super early (6am) but it also doesn't close 'til late (4pm), which is a big deal for fellow lovers of sleep, amirite?!

SMILES ABOUND AT HILO FARMERS MARKET.

SMILES ABOUND AT HILO FARMERS MARKET.

Being able to see the people who lovingly grow and sell the fresh produce used in the dishes being devoured on this trip is pretty special. Yes, I'm a sap and being in Hawaii has exaggerated this 100,000x.

RED RAMBUTAN.

RED RAMBUTAN.

SWEEEEEET PINEAPPLES.

SWEEEEEET PINEAPPLES.

YELLOW RAMBUTAN. IT'S SERIOUS BUSINESS.

YELLOW RAMBUTAN. IT'S SERIOUS BUSINESS.

THE LILIKOI (PASSION FRUIT) GINGERADE IS INCREDIBLE. 

THE LILIKOI (PASSION FRUIT) GINGERADE IS INCREDIBLE. 

THE LADY BEHIND THE AMAZING GINGERADE JUICE STAND.

THE LADY BEHIND THE AMAZING GINGERADE JUICE STAND.

LOOK OUT FOR THIS HOT SAUCE LADY! BE NICE AND YOU'LL GET LOTS OF FREE SAMPLES :)

LOOK OUT FOR THIS HOT SAUCE LADY! BE NICE AND YOU'LL GET LOTS OF FREE SAMPLES :)

BEAUTIFUL ISLAND FLOWERS GET THEIR SHARE OF LOVE.

BEAUTIFUL ISLAND FLOWERS GET THEIR SHARE OF LOVE.

LOCAL ARTISANS MARKET.

LOCAL ARTISANS MARKET.

Across the street from the farmers market, is a local artisans market filled with jewellery, clothes, and art.

HAND-CRAFTED BAMBOO BRACELETS FOR $10. CAN'T BEAT THE PRICES IN HILO.

HAND-CRAFTED BAMBOO BRACELETS FOR $10. CAN'T BEAT THE PRICES IN HILO.

DOWNTOWN HILO - CAFE PESTO. 

DOWNTOWN HILO - CAFE PESTO. 

Just a few steps down the street from Hilo Farmers Market is Downtown Hilo, which wraps around Hilo Bay and stands out with its early 1900s architecture. Lots of great restaurants and shops here.

KRESS. SIGNAGE GAME ON POINT.

KRESS. SIGNAGE GAME ON POINT.

SOME OF THAT HAWAIIAN CHARM.

SOME OF THAT HAWAIIAN CHARM.

THE KING KAMEHAMEHA MARKET. GO HERE.

THE KING KAMEHAMEHA MARKET. GO HERE.

As I've mentioned, Hilo price points are really affordable, so do as much of your shopping here if you can. I really loved The King Kamehameha Market - it's filled with tons of vintage and re-worked vintage dresses and shirts from Hawaiian designers and colorful home decor items. 

PRINTED PILLOWS @ THE KING KAMEHAMEHA MARKET.

PRINTED PILLOWS @ THE KING KAMEHAMEHA MARKET.

I BOUGHT THIS RED DRESS FOR $35.

I BOUGHT THIS RED DRESS FOR $35.

SOME QUIRKY ISLAND HOME DECOR.

SOME QUIRKY ISLAND HOME DECOR.

INSIDE SIG ZANE DESIGNS.

INSIDE SIG ZANE DESIGNS.

Sig Zane is the Island's most well-known designer and to understand why his designs are so special, here's an excerpt from his website: "We are here to share the knowledge and values of the Hawaiian people through art, by honoring the plants of the the islands, and providing a unique experience that is enhanced by teaching the symbolism of the Hawaiian name of the plant, and giving insight to other aspects of our lifestyle that will build upon the experience: all to express gratitude, appreciation, and compassion for allowing a life in this island environment along with the hosts of this culture." Behind each print is a story and small quantities are made of each color and pattern.

SIG ZANE AT SIG ZANE DESIGNS. 

SIG ZANE AT SIG ZANE DESIGNS

MOON & TURTLE RESTAURANT.

MOON & TURTLE RESTAURANT.

Moon & Turtle was my favorite restaurant in Hilo - delicious dishes that combine all the bright Asian flavors of the Island. My fave dishes were the Smokey Sashimi, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Wild Boar Fried Rice, and Tofu Oyster Sauce Sauté . 

NON-PRETENTIOUS, HOMEY, GOOD FOOD AND VIBES.

NON-PRETENTIOUS, HOMEY, GOOD FOOD AND VIBES.

Chef/Owner Mark Pomaski was born and raised in Hilo and worked in the kitchens of Chef Roy Yamaguchi in Waikiki and Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa in New York, before opening Moon & Turtle with his wife, Soni, and brother, Tedd, 2 years ago.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE MENU.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE MENU.

SASHIMI WITH THAT KIAWE-SMOKED SOY SAUCE, AHHHH... NEED GALLONS OF THIS PLS.

SASHIMI WITH THAT KIAWE-SMOKED SOY SAUCE, AHHHH... NEED GALLONS OF THIS PLS.

YAKI UDON - BRAISED PORK BELLY, MARKET VEG, WON BOK, WHEAT NOODLES, PORK-INFUSED SOY, ORGANIC ONSEN TAMAGO (EGG), SESAME AND PICKLED RED GINGER.

YAKI UDON - BRAISED PORK BELLY, MARKET VEG, WON BOK, WHEAT NOODLES, PORK-INFUSED SOY, ORGANIC ONSEN TAMAGO (EGG), SESAME AND PICKLED RED GINGER.

TOFU OYSTER SAUCE SAUTE - MARKET VEG, TOFU, HAMAKUA MUSHROOMS, BLACK TREE FUNGUS, SAKE AND TOASTED GARLIC.

TOFU OYSTER SAUCE SAUTE - MARKET VEG, TOFU, HAMAKUA MUSHROOMS, BLACK TREE FUNGUS, SAKE AND TOASTED GARLIC.

WILD BOAR FRIED RICE - GARLIC-SEASONED BROWN JASMINE RICE, KULANA WILD BOAR SAUSAGE, MARKET VEG, FRESH EGG.

WILD BOAR FRIED RICE - GARLIC-SEASONED BROWN JASMINE RICE, KULANA WILD BOAR SAUSAGE, MARKET VEG, FRESH EGG.

SPATZLE MAC N CHEESE - HOUSEMADE EGG NOODLES, MARKET VEG, WHITE WINE, AND CHEDDAR JACK.

SPATZLE MAC N CHEESE - HOUSEMADE EGG NOODLES, MARKET VEG, WHITE WINE, AND CHEDDAR JACK.

GINGER LILIES AT RAINBOW FALLS. 

GINGER LILIES AT RAINBOW FALLS. 

At Wailuku River State Park is the gorgeous Rainbow Falls...

RAINBOW FALLS.

RAINBOW FALLS.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

SUISAN FISH MARKET.

SUISAN FISH MARKET.

Back to my "to eat" list... obviously, when in Hawaii, POKE.

You can't get any fresher than going straight to the source - the Suisan Fish Market.

POKE.POKE.POKE.

POKE.POKE.POKE.

ALL THE POKE.

ALL THE POKE.

HAWAIIAN HAMACHI AND SPICY AHI, WITH BROWN RICE AND FURIKAKE UNDERNEATH.

HAWAIIAN HAMACHI AND SPICY AHI, WITH BROWN RICE AND FURIKAKE UNDERNEATH.

SPECIAL S/O TO RIMOWA FOR THIS SWEET NEW BOSSA NOVA CASE (WITH LEATHER TRIMMINGS AND QUILTED INTERIOR, Y'ALL!).

SPECIAL S/O TO RIMOWA FOR THIS SWEET NEW BOSSA NOVA CASE (WITH LEATHER TRIMMINGS AND QUILTED INTERIOR, Y'ALL!).

Here's a quick little snap from Day 1 in Hilo:

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