Welcome to Hilo
Hula down to Hilo, which has been dubbed 'Hawaii's forgotten
city' on the coast of the Big Island, for a dose of old-time
Hawaii. The city may be the second largest in the State, but Hilo
has a small-town feel. Overlooking beautiful Hilo Bay, and
dominated by two volcanoes (the active Mauna Loa and dormant Mauna
Kea), the city was a trading centre for native Hawaiians in ancient
times, then became an important port once the westerners had
discovered that the area was ideal for growing sugar cane.
More modern times have seen Hilo bear the brunt of two tsunamis,
one in 1946 and another in 1960, but the hardy citizens of Hilo
cleaned up their city after each affliction and now the high-water
marks of these devastating events are a tourist attraction, along
with the Pacific Tsunami Museum on the corner of Front and Kalakaua
Although reminders of the past are everywhere, in the
architecture and attractions, Hilo is a young, happening city, home
to the University of Hawaii and the Merrie Monarch Festival,
celebrating hula dancing, held annually in the week after
Another of the hottest happenings in Hilo is the Farmers'
Market, held on Wednesdays and Saturdays along Front Street, when
more than 100 vendors set up their stalls selling everything from
fresh produce to Portuguese pastries and native crafts.
The downtown area of Hilo contains Hawaii's largest collection
of historic buildings, dating back to the turn of the century.
There are plenty of restaurants, museums, a rainforest zoo and the
beautiful Nani Mau Gardens to explore. Beyond the city itself the
countryside is photogenically beautiful, with waterfalls plunging
down the hillsides, forming rainbows that light up the lush
vegetation. It rains a lot, but mostly in the late afternoons,
ensuring that the area stays vividly green. The volcanic beaches in
the area are covered in jet-black sand, offsetting the brilliant
white spray and blue, glassy waters. Hilo is a colourful
kaleidoscope of Hawaii, filled with friendly, smiling people
waiting to welcome visitors.
Information & Facts
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.