Shipman House Bed & Breakfast Inn

131 Ka`iulani Street, Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Innkeeper(s): Barbara & Gary Andersen
  • Introduction

    Shipman House Bed & Breakfast Inn - Hilo, Hawaii

    A 2009 Top Romantic Pick

    Shipman House Bed & Breakfast, Hilo's romantic luxury inn and the only authentic historic Victorian B&B on Hawaii Island, offers a rare opportunity to experience the monarchy period of Old Hawaii. This National Register treasure has been lovingly restored, with many antique furnishings original to the house and the Shipman family.

    History, antiques and authenticity blend nicely with modern amenities like free wireless Internet service, modern plumbing and fresh, healthy breakfasts. Your host is a Shipman descendent who welcomes you like long-lost friends, and shares with you her favorite places to visit, photograph, shop, swim or eat. You may not want to leave.

    Shipman House Bed and Breakfast is on Reed's Island, an historic neighborhood just across a wooden bridge from Historic Downtown Hilo...and worlds away. A rainforest of bamboo, palms and mango trees separates your inn from town and Hilo Bay, yet just a ten-minute walk takes you to restaurants, museums and the Farmers Market downtown.

    Rocking chairs beckon you to the lanai (veranda) for a good read, a chat or a snooze. Hear the birds twittering and calling nearby and across the gulch below, singing for a mate or just enjoying the day. If it rains, grab one of the inn's umbrellas and go for a's a warm rain, and could be over in minutes. You may be surprised at how raindrops sound on our huge tropical leaves!

    Shipman House is ideally located for sightseeing, and your hosts can help you plan your stay, sharing tips on where to visit, how to get there, and where to lunch...or pick up a picnic lunch. Maunakea, Maunaloa, Rainbow and Akaka Falls, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Puna, hot lava viewing, Waipi`o Valley, and Parker Ranch are all less than an hour from your inn.

  • About Our Inn

    Visit Hilo and be charmed. Stay at Shipman and fall in love!

    High ceilings and beautifully appointed rooms take you back to an idyllic era, when royalty and famous visitors called. Hilo's Shipman House Bed and Breakfast Inn offers you the rare opportunity to indulge in the lifestyle of Hawaii's monarchy era, with the grand Victorian homes, extensive grounds, and furnishings of the finest native Hawaiian woods.
    Purchased, restored and preserved by a Shipman descendent, this is one of the state's last privately-owned Victorian mansions. It is on both the State and National Registers. We have self-guided tours of the house available to our guests, and you are welcome in most of the home and grounds.
    Do you play the piano? If so, you may tickle the ivories of our 1912 Steinway Parlour Grand B, as did Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani, whose book of compositions lies nearby. The piano is always in tune.
    Hilo's most photographed residence, the recently renovated "castle" sits high on a ridge overlooking a deep gulch lined with magnificent stands of palms, bamboo and ferns.
  • Dining

    We grow our own fruit. Today there are over 20 varieties of tropical fruit trees on the property, numerous varieties of bananas, white pineapples, avocados, taro, and even a small coffee plantation. Fruits in season appear on the breakfast buffet, and exotic flowers from the garden grace the house and guest rooms. Ask about a Garden Tour.
    In 1993, the Shipmans' great-granddaughter and her husband, Barbara Ann and Gary Andersen, returned from the San Francisco Bay Area to purchase and restore the family home on Reed's Island in Hilo, on the big Island of Hawai`i. They continue the family tradition of Hawaiian hospitality as they open their historic home and guesthouse to bed and breakfast guests.

    Let us share memories and family anecdotes with you over breakfast. Barbara and her sister spent a part of every summer with their great-aunts at the house, climbing trees, weeding the cutting garden, riding wheelbarrows down rolling green lawns, arranging flowers, making plum jam, bathing in claw-foot tubs, and sleeping in four-poster beds.
    Barbara and Gary love this side of the island, and enthusiastically share its beauty, history, special nooks and crannies with their guests. This part of Hawai`i, slow, lush and green, so often overlooked by travelers and travel agents, has that "old Hawai`i" charm which most visitors really enjoy.

    Ahh, smell the fresh-brewed aroma of Ka`u coffee...and is that the fragrance of lightly toasted old-fashioned Portuguese sweet bread? Have some sun-ripened papayas splashed with tart lime juice and topped with a scoop of fresh passion fruit! The tropical breakfast buffet on the lanai at Shipman House Bed and Breakfast is all of this and much more. Don't miss our exclusive macadamia nut granola, assorted tropical fruits in season (there are over 20 varieties of fruit trees on the property), the beautiful Shipman Sunrise fruit smoothie, special breads or muffins. Fresh, healthy breakfasts, served outdoors on the lanai.
    Dietary restrictions or food allergies can be cheerfully accommodated if you give us enough notice. Whether it is celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, gluten-free, nut allergies, or another situation, we try to make your breakfast as special as everyone else's. Your host knows what it's like to travel with food restrictions.
    Special diets are cheerfully accommodated with enough notice.

    After a long day of business meetings, sightseeing or hiking, head back to Shipman House and let yourself into a sanctuary of cool comfort, peace and quiet. Your open windows catch the tradewinds, Hawaii's natural air-conditioning. The German-engineered showerhead sends a warm, relaxing torrent over your aching muscles, a soothing bliss. You're looking forward to that great little restaurant Gary and Barbara recommended, followed by a good night's sleep between cool Cotton Sheets in a comfortable bed. You might even slip into one of those soft, gauze-lined cotton yukata robes from your closet, and listen to the evening Rainforest while you check email. Or maybe skip the email ...but don't miss Breakfast!
  • Area Information

    Where is Hilo? Why should anyone go to Hilo?

    ~ Barbara Blackshear Andersen

    Picturesque Hilo (pronounced hee-low) sits at the water's edge where Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa meet on the lush, green, breathtakingly photographic side of Hawai`i Island. Here one finds the anticipated Hawai`i -- wild orchids blooming along the roadsides, waterfalls plunging through hillside jungles ...and rainbows. Hilo is blessed with more rain than any other city in the U.S. (averaging about 120" annually), and the gulches and hillsides around the Hilo area have more shades of green than there are names. The rain-washed air is sweetened by flowers, and wonderful to breathe. Deep blue waves shatter into white spray against and over a jagged jet-black shoreline edged in vibrant greens. Colorfully dressed children splash in the calmer pools and sheltered beach areas edging Hilo Bay.

    Located on the eastern coast of Hawai`i Island, the big island at the southeastern end of the Hawaiian Islands, Hilo is perfect for daytrips to Volcano, Puna, Waipio Valley, Mauna Kea observatories, and Kona. Often just driven past, a closer look reveals the Real Hawaii, not a fabricated tourist resort.

    Hilo is the town time forgot, with its false-front stores, covered sidewalks, and small town charm. Life moves at a slow, friendly pace. Shopping downtown is an international adventure, free of "tourist traps". Pick up a walking tour map and just stroll around Old Hilo Town. Refresh yourself with a paper cone of shaved ice in some exotic flavor (be real "local", order the li hing mui shaved ice), or sample the preserved seed so loved by locals. See how many old hitching rings you can spot, and figure out why Hilo's sidewalks are black instead of gray.

    Be sure to visit the farmers' market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Vendors offer taste samples of the more unusual produce, and sprays of orchids or bouquets of exotic flowers can be bought for just a few dollars.

    This county seat wears a wide greenbelt of parks and soccer fields along its half-mile-long black sand beach. Several local canoe clubs house their outrigger canoes along the water's edge, hold practices after work, and, during the summer, compete in day-long regattas with other canoe clubs from around the island and the state. Paddling clubs set up food booths to help pay expenses, and this is real local food. A canoe meet is a "must" experience for visitors.

    If you are lucky enough to be in Hilo when it rains, grab an umbrella and go for a walk. The rain is blissfully warm, and brightly-colored umbrellas pop up everywhere. These are not your ordinary umbrellas, as Hilo people favor the large size usually found in golf bags. Few sports events are cancelled by rain, and the sidelines may be a cheery line-up of umbrellas topping shorts, bare legs, and rubber slippers.

    Local folks love to be outdoors. Walkers and runners favor the beautiful oceanfront. Others fish along the waterfront and at Wailoa State Park. Golfers abound, and surfers dot the ocean just off downtown, and 2 miles up the coast at Honoli`i Beach. Hilo has public tennis courts and an Olympic-size pool. A favorite picnic spot is the beautiful Lili`uokalani Gardens, 30 acres of Japanese gardens with fishponds, gazebos, bridges, and a spectacular view across Hilo Bay of Hilo town, as it hugs the crescent ("hilo") beach, and edges up Mauna Kea's gentle slopes. Nearby, and across a footbridge, is Coconut Island, just big enough for picnics and open-air concerts. It is from here the fireworks are launched to delight Hiloans on the Fourth of July, as they gather, Norman Rockwell-like, in the park surrounding Mo`oheau Bandstand, across from the farmer's market.

    Take a hula lesson!

    Hilo has a number of restaurants serving delicious and varied fare, and the appropriate dress ranges from quite casual to more dressy (slacks with aloha shirt tucked in), yet none requires a coat and tie. The selection is such that day visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (27 miles away) are encouraged to return to Hilo for dinner and the night.

    With all our lush vegetation, it always surprises visitors to learn that Hawaii is snake-free. There are so many interesting sites to visit in the Hilo area, side roads to explore, legends to ponder, smiles to return, birds to spot, flowers to smell, food to try, waves to jump in.... Hele mai...Come.

  • Distance from Shipman House to Nearby Attractions

    5 to 10 minutes' drive:

    • Lyman Mission House and Museum (3 blocks)
    • Historic Hilo town (5 blocks)
    • Pacific Ocean
    • Hilo Farmers Market
    • Rainbow Falls & Boiling Pots
    • Imiloa Astronomy and Cultural Center
    • University of Hawaii at Hilo
    • Hilo International Airport
    • Lili`uokalani Garden

    15 to 30 minutes' drive:

    • Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
    • Beaches(snorkeling)
    • Akaka Falls & Kahuna Falls

    45 minutes' drive:

    • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park ("the Volcano")
    • Kalapana to see hot lava enter ocean
    • Wai `Opae Tidepools
    • Onizuka Visitor Center, 9,000' on Maunakea

    1 hour's drive:

    • Waipi`o Valley
    • Punalu`u Black Sand Beach

    1.5 hours to Waimea/Kamuela

    2 to 2.5 hours to Kona Airport