My husband and I had one night in Hilo (the first night of our honeymoon!) before we headed north to explore the Big Island. We randomly picked the Hilo Honu Inn and it was such a blessing. We got there in the late afternoon and Gay met us in the drive with a hug. Immediately upon meeting her, I felt at home. We were the only guests that night, so she upgraded us to a larger room, which was fantastic since I'd really overpacked! The room was gorgeous, comfortable and tastefully done. I'd really suggest staying in the front room, which has a sitting room as well as a bedroom, as it helps you pretend the place is yours!
The Inn is a beautiful building and Gay gave us a short tour and told us about its history. Although not from HI originally, Gay and her husband Bill are deeply invested in their community and have so much knowledge to share. Over breakfast they both gave us tips about how to spend our week, and my husband and I found ourselves repeatedly referring back to their advice.
In particular, they suggested buying "the blue book", which is a guide book written by locals. We read it and found it really helpful and entertaining. They've available for all of the islands and I'd recommend them too. They also suggested that when visiting VNP, if you do the Kilauea Iki walk, do it counter clockwise (against the recommended flow) and I'd suggest the same. It means a steeper ascent at the end, but the views are worth it going that way.
We were only at the Inn one night, but we fell in love with it and with Hilo. It's a lovely, quiet town where you can see what Hawaiian life is really like. We can't wait to come back to visit and to try Bill's french toast again (amazing, especially with the coconut syrup!) and hopefully the apple bananas too. And the homemade POG! I'd seen POG on menus, but didn't realise that it stood for "passionfruit, orange and guava" - a real favourite with the local kids, and me too.
All in all, the Hilo Honu Inn is a lovely and welcoming place to use as a base when exploring the hidden charms of Hilo, VNP, Akaka Falls, and the rest of the north/east side of the Big Island.