Nestled out of sight at the start of downtown Hilo on the east side of the Big Island, Banyan Drive is a scenic loop along the ocean offering various sights to see and things to do. Weaving around the Waiakea Peninsula of Hilo Bay, with views of the volcanoes Mauna Keau and Mauna Loa in the distance, the drive is named after the 50-plus Banyan trees that line it.
View on Banyan Drive — Photo courtesy of Alma Nac
The ground roots of these eerie hardwood trees extend like snakes across the sand, and long, spindly aerial roots dangle from overhead, giving the banyans a cage-like appearance. The trees were planted by celebrities like Amelia Earhart, F.D.R. and Fannie Hurst, and most of them date to the 1930s. Photographing banyan trees, whether nature only or families standing in the roots or under the canopy, makes for quite exotic vacation photos.
While cruising Banyan Drive, you can enjoy an exquisite sushi meal at Nihon Restaurant where they serve an abundance of fresh locally caught fish. Uncle Billy's Hotel is also located down here with an ocean view restaurant for drinks on a hot day. Also found nearby is Coconut Island, a small island connected to the main island by a man-made bridge. This is a place for local families and visitors to enjoy fun in the sun, swimming and beach time away from the main beaches.
Make sure to visit Banyan Drive as an escape from the busy streets of Hilo.