A Saturday in Hilo

There is a Saturday market in Hilo that we decided to visit. It was a long drive, almost two hours, and we decided to include a stop at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in the same area.

The Farmer’s Market in runs seven days a week. The booths are more permanently installed than other farmers markets. and more unkempt from the wear and tear of daily use. One section contains fruit and vegetable sellers, while the others have clothing, jewelry, wood objects, and other items. It’s a sizeable market for a small city, but not on the scale of Pike Place in Seattle, for example.

From the Farmers Market, we took a brief drive around the lovely Liliuokalani Gardens. It was a hot day, and we decided against a walk. We also realized that we could spend much more time in Hilo. The Wailoa River State Recreation Area is in the center of town and includes a large fish pond. There are lots of places to walk once you’ve had a stroll around the Liliuokalani Gardens. We contemplated changing our plans to have lunch in a cafe overlooking the shore and staying in the area, but we had planned on a stop at the Botanical Garden, so we tore ourselves away.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden with our visiting friend Peggy

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is one couple’s vision of how a coastal garden could be created. Between 1977 and 2017, Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse developed a 17 acre parcel into the garden today. It is a private enterprise, now run by their children, and seems to be thoughtfully run. We were impressed by how well-kept the trails are. A steep boardwalk at the start of the walk is manageable, and themed loops take visitors past groups of orchid plants, anthurium, and out to a waterfall by the coast. I felt a twinge of disappointment to find the large Bird House was empty, but the fact that the non-native birds have been transferred to a sanctuary is probably for the best. Macaws are pretty, but they are native to South America, not Hawaii. They are best left in the wild in the first place.

There were flowers and intriguing plants everywhere. We walked the entire trail in a couple of hours and enjoyed it thoroughly. The tall canopy of palms and rain forest plants created dappled shade that kept us cool as we strolled. We carried our own water and snacks (there’s no cafe), and stopped now and then to enjoy the surroundings. We were glad we’d chosen the garden over the city.


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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