It happened again the other day… We had two different sets of guests arrive within the same couple of days who’d started their trips in Hilo and were aching to see the sun. This has happened so many times that whenever prospective guests ask us about splitting up their stay between Hilo and Kona, we try to clearly describe the two very different climates and what to expect. It’s a difficult task. We don’t want to sound like we’re just trying to sell more nights at our Inn, but we do want to be truthful about the weather patterns. We’re always trying to help guests prepare and plan. At the end of the day, we want them to be happy.
The problem is that the drear and gray that define Hilo’s weather seem to catch many visitors unaware. Especially if you’ve never been to the Big Island, it can be difficult to envision how its many mirco-climates can actually effect your experience, even when reading through tourist literature.
To get down to the point, Hilo is notoriously damp and overcast. We’ve heard stories of mildewed clothes in closets and mold infestations and dripping wallpaper, etc. Each island has a rainy side and a sunny side. The rain makes for the dramatic waterfalls and beautiful botanical gardens, but it can also be a dreary backdrop for a vacation. I can’t tell you how many visitors we’ve had who’ve stayed there first, often splitting a one week or two week stay between Hilo and Kona, and are desperate for sun once they arrive in Kona. We’ve had more than one guest say that they wished they’d limited their time on the other side and spent the bulk of their stay here.
Everyone is different, of course. We had some guests recently who were from Colorado and found the humidity of Hilo soothing in contrast to their cold, dry home. For many of our guests who’ve come from Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, Hilo feels to be just another small, weather-beaten town, for other guests, it can feel charming and funky. Even for guests who do spend their stay on the Kona side, we do suggest at least a day trip around the island to see Hawaii Botanical Gardens, perhaps Akaka and Kahuna and/or Rainbow Falls, and the lovely winding Hamakua Coastline. If I had one week on the island, I’d spend my time in Kona and do a day trip to the other side. If I had two weeks, I may spend a day or two on the other side (Hilo, Volcano, or Honokaa/Waipio), and the bulk of my time in Kona.