Airbnb host recommended: Downtown Hilo shops

Merchant walks are a way to bring hosts together with local small businesses and introduce them to new and interesting places they can recommend to their guests. Travelers choose Airbnb to have a local and authentic travel experience and with the help of host recommendations, they get to explore parts of the city they would likely otherwise miss. When hosts give their guests recommendations about their favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and shops, local business owners benefit from new customers. Home sharing is a win-win because it benefits hosts, guests, and local neighborhoods. Airbnb hosts came together on a recent Thursday evening for a merchant walk to visit several small businesses in downtown Hilo. Located on Hilo Bay, this community is unique, fun to explore and has a lot to offer with its natural beauty, volcanoes, macadamia nut farms, rainforest climate and distinctive downtown businesses. Check out the places our hosts visited and recommend below and learn more about these unique local gems.

The Surf Cottage

Follow them on Facebook The merchant walk kicked off at The Surf Cottage, a surfing-themed Airbnb listing. The building was one of the few to survive the 1960 tsunami. Hilo native Shawn Pila hosts this unique listing and welcomed everybody in attendance. In addition to being a great host, Shawn is an adventure seeker, surfer, instructor, filmmaker, and photographer. Located in back of the Hilo Surfboard Company, and operated in partnership with them, this Airbnb listing is the perfect place for a traveler who wants to get a true Hilo experience. It features local photography and artwork and Shawn offers surf lessons, kayak tours and other ocean activities to guests.

Hilo Surfboard Co.

Follow them on Facebook Scott Murray opened this shop in 2003. It has a wide selection of surfboards and they are available for rent if you want to take lessons from Shawn and didn’t travel with your own. Murray said, “This is a real surf shop. I just have surf boards and t-shirts and a couple accessories. The people who know surfing, they get a real kick out of this place.” The shop has it’s own line of surfboards and can help people produce their own design, all made locally in Hawaiʻi.

“We help people fix their boards right here at our workshop in the middle of the store.” – Scott Murray

Lucy’s Taqueria

Follow them on Facebook At Lucy’s Taqueria, the group was treated to mango margaritas and some of the best Mexican food you can find on the island of Hawaiʻi. Open for six years and operated by Marlene Akana Hall, the atmosphere in this restaurant is lively and always bustling with activity. The restaurant is named after Marlene’s daughter Lucy and offers a wide variety of tasty Mexican food from tacos and quesadillas to sopitos and their famous “super burrito.” Hosts gave the food and drinks five stars.

Good Earth Sandals

Follow them on Facebook Along the walk we were invited in to Good Earth Sandals to check out unique, made-by-hand sandals for “travelers, wanderers, artists, poets, musicians and nature lovers.” This sandals are custom fit and assembled on site. It’s a great place to visit and buy something locally made to take home.


Follow them on Facebook “East meets West at Kanpai. An innovative menu designed to showcase an expert collaboration between traditional Asian cuisine and fresh, local ingredients.” With a modern twist on sushi and many ramen options, including vegetarian and gluten-free, this restaurant is a local favorite. Kanpai’s private banquet rooms with karaoke are great for big groups and open until 1:00 a.m.

“Good food, great service and great music.”

Hilo Town Tavern

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The Exhibit

Follow them on Facebook Hosts ended the night at Hilo Town Tavern, which features local brews and live music and the attached The Exhibit, Gallery of Arts and Events. The Exhibit is operated by Ashley Allen and features work from local artists.

Check out more photos from the merchant walk:

Check out more photos from the merchant walk

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