Hilo, Hawaii is located on the Island of Hawai'i, also known as The Big Island. The city has the second largest population in the state of Hawaii, after Honolulu. Sugar mills were a major export in Hilo and still operate today, on a smaller scale.
Hilo is considered ko'olau, which means windward in native Hawaiian. This position makes it the wettest city in the United States, with rainfall measures at 200 inches per year. This rainy climate enhances the productivity of sugar cane mills and macadamia nut factories that the island is famous for. The city is home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Company, world's largest producer of macadamia nuts.
Although not as big of a tourist destination as Oahu, visitors to Hilo can expect a more relaxed vacation. The city is home to beautiful waterfalls, rainforests and gardens. The Liliuokalani Garden is a popular attraction. This authentic Japanese garden stretches over 30 acres and presents visitors with breathtaking views only found Hawaii. Hilo Farmers' Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii. Locals and tourists alike come here for entertainment, food, and domestically grown exotic fruits. Strawberry papayas are a local specialty and a must-try for any visitor.
Hilo Bay is not suitable for swimming, but the city is home to Punalu'u Beach Park. This black sand beach is popular for the green sea turtles that come ashore. Wailuku River State Park is another water source worth checking out. Rainbow Falls are the main attraction here; this waterfall has an 80 foot drop, and gets its name from the numerous rainbows which form in the mist. More waterfalls adorn Hilo, including PeePee Falls which pour into terrain ponds. Due to the slow-cooling basalt lava, the ponds are called Boiling Pots, as they appear to boil.
The funnel shape of Hilo Bay makes it susceptible to tsunamis, and many have hit the Big Island throughout the years. Downtown Hilo has the state's only tsunami museum, dedicated to the history of two big tsunamis to hit the city. Hilo is also home to two volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is considered dormant, and holds a few astronomical observatories. Regardless of the natural disasters to have hit Hilo in the past, the city's beautiful landscape is a must see.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan