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!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.