Hawaii Island is full of charming towns, activities

On your way to the famed Pololu Valley Lookout, be sure to stop and explore the quiet haven of Hawi.

Perhaps best known as the “bicycle turnaround” location for the annual Ironman World Championship before all of the triathletes pedal back south to Kona, this historic town on the northernmost tip of the island is home to homespun shops and lively restaurants, as well as exciting outdoor adventure activities like farm tours, kayak tours, zip lining, ATV tours, and the original Kamehameha I statue.

Brimming with local flavors and culture, residents of Hilo, a midsize bayside city, boast of its tasty multiethnic comfort foods, diverse attractions and rainforest escapes into nature complete with waterfalls. Hilo also boasts the state’s largest farmers market, all of which keep visitors returning again and again.

Liliuokalani Gardens is a 24.6-acre ornamental Japanese garden that is recommended. Imiloa Astronomy Center is a beautiful, futuristic building that connects Hawaiian culture to science.

Waianuenue Falls, known as “Rainbow Falls,” should be on your Hilo bucket list along with Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens (the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S., and it’s free!).

Sig Zane Designs is one of Hawaii Island’s premier shops and Hilo Farmers Market is a large, daily gathering of local vendors). Moon & Turtle is an farm-and-ocean-to-table place to dine. Suisan Fish Market is the place to go for fresh poke bowls. Cafe 100 is famous for its many styles of the Hawaii comfort food dish loco moco. Moonstruck Patisserie dazzles with lilikoi cheesecake and Kawamoto Store is a popular okazuya-style lunch shop — according to Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.