Onomea Bay trail is great for the whole family because it’s relatively easy to walk and requires only a small climb at the end of the hike. The entire trail is short and the payoff is good. It gives you a chance to walk through the back side of the botanical gardens so you may see some interesting plants and wildlife. Of the things to do in Hilo this is great because it’s free and relatively easy with a nice scenic side detour along the Old Mamalahoa Highway. The only real limiting factor is finding parking on the highway at the entrance to the hike. This could be a challenge during busier times of the year. The limited parking is nice because it means the trial will never be very busy. This is pretty common for things to do on Big Island where often times you might be the only one there!
Who should Hike Onomea Bay Trail
If you enjoy nature and scenery with a healthy dose of botanical flair this is a great hike for you. It’s also good for families with small kids. If you’re looking to get excercise this is a short walk. There are more challenging hikes available elsewhere.
The walk down is a few hundred feet of elevation change and is about 0.15 miles long. It’s a nice quick and easy stroll. the path is mostly paved until you reach to turnoff to the bay itself. Once you head down the path to the bay you will see a riverbed that flows into the ocean. There is a spit of land that you can walk onto and see the entire bay around you. The mini peninsula has a blowhole and if the surf is large enough it will reward you with a bit of a show. Along the way down the trail you will see lush jungle plants with lau hala, and vines. We found a pitcher plant that made a large flower. The flower stinks and is meant to attract insects which it eats for food.
The path is great for most and makes this attraction easy to visit. The views of the coast along the walk are really nice with lots of peekaboo opportunities to see the bay. The day we visited the bay it was rough and the waves were crashing giving us the opportunity to see the blowhole and the bay in action.
Near the bay the trail continues to the botanical garden. The garden is a popular attraction and one of the more popular things to do in HIlo. It gets a lot of tourist traffic and is worth a visit. It also has a nice coastal walk and is a great way to continue your adventure. The garden is also one of the best botanical gardens if your looking for things to do on Big Island.
As you leave the path the trail is a bit bumpier and unpaved. At this point the trail opens up into a rocky rubbly riverbed with a path leading to the spit of land. There is an odd shaped coconut palm that presents a nice photo opportunity. Walk to the bay and you will see the walls and the water sloshing around. On rough days it can be quite noisy. Watch out because the water splashing might get you wet!
How to get there
The trailhead begins at Old Mamalahoa highway. It’s a side detour from the main highway and is a nice scenic windy drive that is worth the extra time if you want to see something different. It’s bordered in large trees dripping with vines. You will cross a bridge with a tunnel and waterfall. It’s a short distance from HIlo town and acts as a nice side trip if you’re going to Kona, or Akaka falls. While this is not located in Hilo proper it is nearby and often people will come here when they are looking for things to do in Hilo.
Things to do in Hilo
If you’re looking for more things to do on Big Island check out our article featuring things to do in Hilo for more ideas.