Radio Bay Amenities
|moorage||$10/night for 40′ boat. Stern tie to wall if room or anchor||fairly protected but you’ll spin on your anchor line unless you double-anchor|
|showers||free, hot & cold||get key from harbor office|
|water||faucet at lavatory building||If you’re tied to the seawall you can probably extend a hose to your water tanks. If you’re anchored out you’ll be ferrying water in jugs.|
|fuel||can be delivered to seawall in a truck||Ask at the harbor office for contact information – also check board at lavatory building for phone numbers|
|pump-out||none||nearest is Oahu|
|ice, groceries||convenience store 1/4 mile away; larger stores in town||Do visit the open fruit markets in town – much cheaper mangos & papayas there|
|internet||free from bar near convenience stores||The bar opens at 3 pm but you can also sit outside the convenience store at other hours and still get wireless connection|
|rental car||Walking distance – but watch out for spurious damage claims||National chains available, too, but sell out on holidays|
|bus||free –||see full island-wide and intra-hilo schedule here|
Hilo on the island of Hawaii (called “Big Island” to avoid confusion) is a popular first stop in the islands as it’s the most upwind of the islands – allowing downwind passages to the rest of the islands – and is an easy landfall from the US. Although it does receive a lot of rain (150-400 inches/year) we found the rain showers were brief if fierce and fell mostly at night. Of course we’re from the Pacific Northwest so you may not want to trust us on rainfall issues.
As you approach Hilo Harbor Basin you’ll see the large seawall that you have to leave to port and then duck in behind. You can follow the seawall all the way into Radio Bay. Don’t approach the cruise ship too closely – just continue straight down the seawall passing the cruise ship dock and then cutting to starboard to get back into the basin. You’ll see the Coast Guard station nestled against the back side of the cruise ship dock and left of that is the seawall where you can stern tie – or just anchor in the basin. University of Hawaii keeps a large cat at the seawall, too, but between that berth on the far left and the CG berth to far right about 8 boats can be accommodated. There’s a Hawaiian Canoe club and a small public beach to left.
When you dinghy over to the seawall and climb up the 8 foot ladders you’ll find the lavatory building to the left. Although there are two toilets and a shower in each of the two rooms, the tradition was to let each person finish before another entered. Since the women’s shower wasn’t working well families were sharing the bathrooms as well. But with only a few people resident it wasn’t a problem. There is also a bookcase of free books – contribute any you’re done with and take what you need. Under the overhang you can also dry out laundry. It rains frequently (and briefly) so you’ll want to hang it here.
Crossing the parking lot to the right from the seawall you’ll come to the temporary buildings housing the harbor master where you can pay for your accommodation and get the lavatory key. If you continue walking in that direction you’ll come to the security gates. Tell them your boat name and smile and they’ll treat you very nicely. Continuing through the gates, simply cross the highway to get to the convenience store and bar. Unfortunately the laundry has now closed so we ended up renting a car to take our laundry downtown. There’s a splendid new laundry downtown that takes cards – yeah! no more endless quarters!
We arrived labor day weekend and none of the national chains had cars available. A local outfit called Harpers, although very nice, later claimed that a one inch scratch on the bumper was new damage. Could be, I can’t prove it wasn’t us. Since it was so tiny I would not have noticed it, especially in the euphoria and disorientation of being on land for the first time in a month. When we arrived home we found a $500 claim waiting! I’ve never had this happen in many years of renting cars. It may be perfectly legitimate, but be careful. The car rental is a short walk to the right from the convenience store.