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Hilo, HI, USA

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Although Hilo might be the Big Island’s largest settlement, it has managed to maintain a laid back coastal appeal. When tourists visit Hilo, they get a glimpse of Hawaii’s golden past as they view some of the classic old buildings and wooden storefronts. Hilo and its historic architecture are recognized as the best preserved township on the Pacific Rim.

In the beginning, as far as the discovery of Hawaii is concerned, the Polynesians settled on the Big Island about 1100 AD and established agricultural and fishing communities. Well, along about 1823 Christian missionaries arrived and were soon followed by whaling and trade ships that began to do business in Hilo’s port.  Within 20 years entrepreneurs were taking notice of the attraction the volcanoes had on the traders coming to port and started to take advantage of this natural phenomenon. 

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hilo’s economy began to shift as tourists came to view the island’s active volcanoes.  Today tourism has become the single most important factor in the area's economy. Vacationers travel from across the globe and stay in Hilo when visiting nearby Volcanoes National Park.  Founded in 1916, the Park encompasses 333,000 acres from the summit of Manuela to the sea. Here you'll find 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, bleached and scalded deserts and rainforests as well as a museum, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes.

Because tourism is the life’s blood of Hilo’s economy, there are many affordable restaurants. Some of the varied offerings include Italian cuisine with a Pacific-Rim influence, steaks and seafood, Japanese and of course local cuisine and all served up with live Hawaiian music. Vacationers are very complimentary as well as satisfied with eateries in Hilo.

Hilo is the Big Island's big city, green, luscious and properly tropical, unlike other parts of the island overrun by volcanic activity in the last century. When visiting the great state of Hawaii Hilo is a good place to start your adventure.  If you are coming to Hilo hoping for a stereotypical Hawaiian getaway that includes Tiki Bars, luaus and the usual stuff you see on TV, you've probably missed the mark. However, the hiking trails and state parks that are here hold sights unlike anything you have ever seen. Plus, the beaches are colors you've probably never seen.


Headed for the Big Island? Start your vacation in Hilo, Hawaii so you can see the best before you see the rest.