Banyan Drive
Banyan Drive

Banyan Drive

Banyan Drive, Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii, 96720

The basics

In 1933, a group of Hilo locals decided the Waiakea Peninsula needed some celebrity curb appeal. A year later, President Franklin Roosevelt arrived in Hilo, and the idea was set: Celebrities—of all sorts—would plant banyan trees along the coast, creating a scenic drive.

Today, these trees are quite outstanding—banyan trees have spectacular “hanging roots” and can grow to be 80 feet (24 meters) tall. Walk along this short stretch, and you’ll count some 50 “famous” trees, each with markers designating their planter. Look for names like Queen Elizabeth, Amelia Earhart, Louis Armstrong, and Richard Nixon.

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Things to know before you go

  • Though this is called a scenic “drive,” be sure to walk among the trees for the greatest effect; the sidewalk is paved and wide.

  • Many species of birds—and coqui frogs—love the trees, making this a great spot for easy-access birding.

  • Banyan Drive is within walking distance of Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island.

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How to get there

Banyan Drive is a 5–10 minute drive from the Hilo International Airport, just off the coast. It’s right in the thick of the action; if you’re driving along Kamehameha Highway, the main road through Hilo and along the shore, you’ll already be most of the way there. You also can walk there from various Waiakea Peninsula hotels, restaurants, and spots like Hilo Bayfront Beach Park.

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When to get there

Banyan Drive can be a popular spot. Though there’s no bad time to take a stroll here, it’s especially nice in the early hours of the morning, when the sunlight is soft, the traffic is light, and the crowds haven’t yet appeared. That’s when the birds will be singing their morning songs, too.

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A walk through Hilo’s past

With trees planted some 90 years ago, these giants have seen a lot. And, though their celebrity connections are what make most people stop to appreciate them, they’re pretty remarkable on their own. Not only are these trees massive—forming an incredible canopy of shade—they’ve also survived three tsunamis. In 1946, 1960, and 1975, giant waves swept through the area, but these trees live on.

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