Directions to downtown Hilo

From the west side of the island there are two primary routes to Hilo, which is located on the east side of the island; the Hamakua Coast or the Saddle Road. Both offer beautiful scenery and attractions along the way (see the Highlights below), both are similar in terms of travel time (the Saddle is slightly shorter). We guide you to downtown Hilo and the Destination Hilo Information Center, located in a kiosk at the Mo’oheau Bus Depot, 329 Kamehameha Avenue. Here you will find ample parking along with information on accommodations, activities, and dining; as well as maps, brochures, and bus schedules. Most street parking in downtown is limited to 2 hours, you may park free all day in this lot.

Hamakua Coast Highlights: This route will take you along the Hamakua Coast, past historic sugar cane villages and scenic coastal views. Some of the stops along the way include: the historic cowboy town of Honoka’a; the Laupahoehoe Peninsula, site of tragic damage during the 1946 tsunami; and the Laupahoehoe Train Museum. Off the highway at the 14 mile marker, you can travel through the village of Honomu to visit Akaka Falls State Park. Akaka Falls drops 442 feet—the tallest single-drop waterfall in the state. Back on the highway, near the 10 mile marker, is the turnoff for the “4 mile scenic drive” through Onomea Bay. We highly recommend this bypass, and stopping along the way to see the sights including the beautiful botanical garden.

Saddle Road Highlights: This route will take you across the interior of the island, through the high valley “saddle” between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes at 6600 feet elevation. As you ascend, the scenery changes from desert to rolling pastureland to moonscape-like lava fields. Pu’us (cinder cones) dot the landscape. As you descend into Hilo, you enter the lush rainforest. Access roads to Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are at the top of the saddle, Pu’u Huluhulu offers hiking and views.

  • From Waimea: Take Hwy19 headed EAST. Continue down the Hamakua Coast on Hwy 19 until you cross “the singing bridge” entering Hilo town. At the traffic signal, bear right off of Hwy 19 and make an immediate LEFT onto Kamehameha Avenue. The information center is 2 blocks down on the left (ocean) side of the Avenue. With no stops, your drive will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is 54 miles.
  • From Waikoloa Beach Resorts (OPTION 1, Hamakua Coast): Take Hwy 19 NORTH to the junction of Hwy 270 at Kawaihai. Turn right onto Hwy 19 to Waimea, you are now headed EAST. Continue on through Waimea town on Hwy 19. Turn left at the intersection of the Mamalahoa Hwy, continuing to follow 19 East down the Hamakua Coast until you cross “the singing bridge” entering Hilo town. At the traffic signal, bear right off of Hwy 19 and make an immediate LEFT onto Kamehameha Avenue. The information kiosk is 2 blocks down on the left (ocean) side of the Avenue. With no stops it is about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and 75 miles.
  • From Waikoloa Beach Resorts (OPTION 2, Saddle Road): Take Waikoloa Road EAST to the junction of Hwy 190 (the Mamalahoa Hwy). Turn right onto Hwy 190, to the junction of Hwy 200 (the Daniel K. Inouye Hwy), turn left. This is the Saddle Road, take it to Komohana, turn left. At Ponahawai turn right. At Kamehameha Avenue turn left. The information kiosk is immediately on your right.
  • From Kailua-Kona (OPTION 1, Hamakua Coast): Take Hwy 19 NORTH to the junction of Hwy 270 at Kawaihai. Turn right onto Hwy 19 to Waimea, you are now headed EAST. Continue on through Waimea town on Hwy 19. Turn left at the intersection of the Mamalahoa Hwy, continuing to follow 19 East down the Hamakua Coast until you cross “the singing bridge” entering Hilo town. At the traffic signal, bear right off of Hwy 19 and make an immediate LEFT onto Kamehameha Avenue. The information kiosk is 2 blocks down on the left (ocean) side of the Avenue. With no stops it is about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and 98 miles.
  • From Kailua Kona (OPTION 2, Saddle Road): Take Hwy 190 NORTH to the junction of Hwy 200 (the Daniel K. Inouye Hwy), turn right. This is the Saddle Road, take it to Komohana, turn left. At Ponahawai turn right. At Kamehameha Avenue turn left. The information kiosk is immediately on your right. This route is about 2 hours and 16 minutes, and 86 miles.
  • From Volcano town: Take Hwy 11 NORTH towards Hilo. Some of the highlights along this drive include: Akatsuka Orchids and the Hilo Coffee Mill. You will reach the junction of Hwy 11 and Hwy 19 (and the famous Ken’s House of Pancakes). Take a LEFT onto Hwy 19, Kamehameha Avenue, headed NORTH. Shortly Hwy 19 and Kamehameha Avenue diverge. Stay on Kamehameha Avenue until reaching downtown Hilo. The information kiosk is a few blocks down on the right (ocean) side of the Avenue. With no stops this drive is 50 minutes, and 29 miles.

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