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“Best Hostel Experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hilo Bay Hostel

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Hilo Bay Hostel
101 Waianuenue, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 9 Specialty lodging in Hilo
Sydney, Australia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Best Hostel Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2012

We stayed at the Hilo Bay Hostel for 3 nights in June 2012 and could not have asked for a friendlier, more welcoming, comfortable and really lovely authentic Hawaiian place to stay.

I would recommend the hostel for the conscientious traveller, one who is interested in their journey and other travellers, not there to party. Being a 30yrs + couple, wanting to travel inexpensively with some comfort and privacy, this is the perfect destination in Hilo. If you prefer the nondescript, sterile hotels, then go for it - you are missing out on life. Hilo Bay Hostel makes you really feel like you've been on holiday in the friendliest place on earth.

After driving over from Kona, we were going to arrive rather late and, as the courteous thing to do, we called and let the hostel know of our late arrival. They were very appreciative of our call and told us not to worry at all. Pouring with rain when we arrived, the host was super friendly and showed us to our room, plonked down some cold beers for us and offered an umbrella and a hand for our bags. We were off to a good start.

The Hostel itself is in a restored building which breathes history and life from its original floorboards to it's wooden fans and Hawaiian memorabilia displayed about the place (little challenge for you - try to count the pineapples!). Our room was spacious and decorated simply yet elegantly in Hawaiian style, we were given the family room for two of us as we had booked a private room. We were soon offered an en suite room, if we cared to move rooms, when it came free the next day. We were also given a small fridge for our room, which was perfect to keep drinks and snacks and food for our meals, as we were out and about every day and like to save a couple of $$ by not eating out at a restaurant every meal. There is a communal fridge in the kitchen, but it was nice to have an added bit of space.The cleanliness of the hostel was outstanding, along with the kitchen facilities and advice and helpfulness of the staff on local activities.

I really respect the fact that the 10pm "Quiet Time" rule, as we were there to explore Hawaii, not party every night, and so was good to be able to go to our room and relax and prepare for the next day. In saying that, it was also a very social hostel and each evening we would share the communal dining table with our meal or drink with other travellers and share stories.

We were also able to experience a truly amazing Helicopter flight over the Volcanos, thanks to the Hostel, who were able to get us on a trip last minute. We wouldn't have been able to do this without their help! There is even a bunch of free to use snorkelling gear too.

After staying at a "Hotel" in Kona that was much more expensive, yet should have been condemned due to it's worn out facilities, and quite possibly a health hazard from the unkempt (read: dirty) state of it's cleanliness, I'd rather stay at a stunning "Hostel" like this any day.

Hilo was really special - Farmers Market, Volcanoes, Manua Kea, Tidepool snorkelling - as it felt like the "real Hawaii", not the American-shopping-mall-extravaganza that is somewhere like Waikiki, and Terry and Scott at Hilo Bay were a huge part of this whole experience.

Only one slight issue to be aware of - which had nothing to do with the Hostel - downtown Hilo can be a bit noisy at night, so bring you earplugs.

We will definitely go back to Hawaii and we will definitely stay at Hilo Bay Hostel again - look forward to catching up with you Terry and Scott!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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130 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
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English first
saskatoon, saskatchewan, canada
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2012

Our family of six (2 adults, two young adults and two teenagers) made an overnight trip to Hilo (staying in Kailua for 3 weeks)....we checked online for accomm. and came across the Hilo Bay Hostel. There was one room left, big enough for all of us. When we arrived in Hilo, after a beautiful drive through the north (to Hawi, down Highway 250, which was amazing - through Waimea and onto Hilo), Terry, the manager greeted us and had our room waiting. He also put a small refrigerator in our room, with the added treat of some Corono Beer. He was incredibly hospitable. The hostel was amazing...in a former hotel - original hardwood staircase - free WIFI - pay a minimal charge for internet use...great kitchen where we cooked a breakfast on Saturday morning with fresh ingredients from the Hilo Farmers' Market (excellent!)....our kids played chess with some of the other guests and had a gret time. When we come back to this island, we will definitely stay at the hostel for a longer period of time and see all the sights on the east side. Wonderful accommodation, great location, hospitable service. Oh, and there is a great dance studio right across the street - our daughter, who is a dancer, went to a Saturday morning drop-in Intermediate Ballet class for a one and a half hour class, which was excellent. What a fun time this was in Hilo....oh and if interested in the Observatory, make sure you book a trip there with a tour company (7 1/2 hrs)....up to Mauna Kea Observatory - we didn't have time for this, but next time (we didn't even know about the Observatory until we were researching Hilo when we got there).

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2012

I have stayed in many hostels around the world, and Hilo Bay Hostel takes the cake!!
Glenda at reception is amazing, kind, sweet, and super hospitable. My bf and I stayed at HBH 2x during our 2week trip. Had we known what an incredible place we had lucked upon, we may not have gone elsewhere.
The place is a gem, and laundry for $2 a load, is insane! I have never stayed in such a friendly, no bs hostel with travellers, and job seekers of all ages living and and chilling out together.
Love, love loved it!!!!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Dallas, Texas
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2012

Where to start? The facilities themselves are FABULOUS! As my 14 yr old daughter plopped down on her bunk, she said, "MOM, you find the absolutely best and neatest places to stay!"

We had to cancel a campground plan because my daughter had to seek medical help in Hilo, so I called the Hilo Bay Hostel and found a room after a tiring, unplanned day. VERY reasonable rate for a family on 10 minute notice. We were so lucky to find vacancy at all.

Much of this old building, or at least the hostel part of it, has been lovingly restored, and what's not to LOVE about beautiful, old and worn wood? Floor, walls, HIGH ceilings, even stairwell up to the 2nd floor hostel. Kitchen was very clean and neat, and guests we shared with were all polite. LOVED the "bananas of the Big Island" poster on the wall; I had no idea of the variety.

Great ambiance overall.

Shower time is somewhat limited, but, hey, I don't mind for modern, clean showers. Wish there were more, but that's hardly a complaint for such an old building. When it was our turn, it was wonderful. We did sleep in an exterior room and LOVED the rain sound we got all night. This may have bothered some people, but we liked it and slept with windows open on a street. There was some street noise with the window open, but we weren't bothered at all.

The location was great: central, easy to find, easy access (there's no lift I saw, though, so consider that there are steps to the second floor). Just a minute's walk to the bay.

Host was very nice and interesting; it's not his first hostel, and it shows. He really likes to make people comfortable while they "live" in his hostel, no matter how short the time. My only regret is that we couldn't stay longer. The rest of my family felt the same.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Somerville, Massachusetts
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2012

After spending a dreadful day and night at the hostel down the street, my friend and I decided to check out Hilo Bay Hostel to see if it was anything like the ant-infested, sketchy hostel we were currently staying at. Before we had even reached the top of the stairs, we knew there was a marked difference. Because of our terrible experience at the other hostel, the sunlight streaming down the beautifully refinished wood entryway staircase was enough to excite us. When we reached the top of the stairs, we noticed that the common area was not only clean, but the restored architecture, tasteful furniture, vintage posters decorating the walls, and the parakeets chirping in their birdcage created a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the weary traveler. My first impression of the hostel was that a lot of love, care, and attention was invested in this place.

Terry, the host, gave us the warmest greeting even though we weren't guests there yet, and showed us around the hostel. He was especially helpful with the not-so-smooth cancellation of our reservation at the other hostel and even gave us a night free to make up for the money we lost. When we arrived at Hilo Bay Hostel, our room had a cold bottle of wine waiting for us. Terry was truly delightful and went above and beyond his call of duty to make us feel comfortable so we could enjoy our vacation on the Big Island. Scott, the manager, was also around most days and was friendly and helpful as well. Without their hospitality, we would have had a miserable trip.

Other perks: there is free snorkeling gear, parking is convenient, and Terry and the other workers at the hostel are more than happy to offer advice on places to visit. There are lockers available and free wi-fi if you bring your own computer (otherwise, you will have to pay to use the computers in the common area). Tea and coffee are available 24/7. People of all ages from around the world stay at the hostel, and the environment is relaxed, safe, and comfortable. I enjoyed conversations with the other guests at the hostel.

I highly recommend Hilo Bay Hostel to anyone traveling to the Big Island!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2012

The manager of this hostel, Terry, rescued my mom and I from what could have been a very bad experience. We arrived in Hilo late in the evening on our first night on the Big Island. We drove from the Kona airport, through heavy fog, and we were very tired upon our arrival in Hilo. I had originally booked a room at another hostel, but that place was so shabby they didn't even leave their outdoor lights on for us! (Hilo is a small town, so without additional illumination buildings can be nearly invisible at night). We were left wandering around downtown Hilo unable to find the hostel where we'd made a reservation.

We stumbled into Hilo Bay Hostel just before their office closed. The Hilo Bay Hostel is situated a few blocks from the waterfront, and has a very visible sign. From the street, this 1920s New England style building is charmingly lit up. Even though we didn't have a reservation, and it was well after the usual check in deadline, Terry set us up with a lovely private room and even deducted the deposit I'd lost *at the other hostel* from our bill! He made us feel right at home, and after that our whole stay was beautiful.

The Hilo Bay Hostel is definitely the cleanest hostel I've ever stayed at. The private rooms are quite spacious, and some have a view of Hilo Bay. I was also impressed by the clientele this hostel seemed to attract. There were students and backpackers, but also young families and retired professionals. The common room conversation each night was delightfully unexpected and entertaining. I'm recommending this hostel to all of my friends!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sapporo
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2012

We stayed here as a group who arrived in mini-vans. Parking was easy nearby. Location is great for walking around Hilo, coffee shops, waterfront, funky shops, farmer's market; there is a large supermarket a few blocks away. Hostel is quaint but with wifi and decent bath and ktichen facilities. We had fun cooking a group meal for 13. Very friendly and helpful staff. Nice, large (but comfy) public space. Kitchen and laundry have somewhat limited hours. Many rooms front a noisy street, and our room, at the back, had thin walls and a seriously throat-clearing neighbor. So bring earplugs.

Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Hilo Bay Hostel

Address: 101 Waianuenue, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Hilo
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 9 Specialty lodging in Hilo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Hilo Bay Hotel Hilo
Hilo Bay Hostel Hawaii

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