A busy farming and fishing area in early times, Hilo evolved into a commercial center for the sugar industry in the 1800s. Downtown Hilo was built around its crescent-shaped bay and became the seat of county government. Today, Downtown Hilo is a charming town offering museums, art galleries, shops and restaurants.
Discover the area’s fascinating history at the Lyman Museum, learn about the terrifying tsunamis that nearly swallowed Hilo at the Pacific Tsunami Museum or head to the newly built Imiloa Astronomy Center, a world-class attraction housed in three striking titanium cones (representing the three tallest mountains on the island of Hawaii: Maunakea, Maunaloa and Hulalalai).
To taste some of Hawaii’s exquisite produce or buy local crafts, try the Hilo Farmers Market in Downtown Hilo. See more local culture when you browse the art at the East Hawaii Cultural Center. Or, purchase a Hawaiian keepsake at one of Hilo’s many popular local shops.
Hilo has plenty of natural beauty, too. The Liliuokalani Gardens is a peaceful respite and features Japanese-style fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens on its 30 acres, while Wailuku River State Park is home to the 80-foot Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls) and Peepee Falls. Visit the nation’s only rainforest zoo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, to see a collection of exotic plants and animals. Whatever your itinerary, a visit to Hilo is worth the trip to experience an authentic taste of the island of Hawaii.