|— CDP —|
Aerial view of Hilo bay and city.
Location in Hawaii County and the state of Hawaii
|- Total||58.4 sq mi (151.4 km2)|
|- Land||54.3 sq mi (140.6 km2)|
|- Water||4.1 sq mi (10.7 km2)|
|Elevation||59 ft (18 m)|
|- Density||750.8/sq mi (289.9/km2)|
|Time zone||Hawaii-Aleutian (UTC-10)|
|GNIS feature ID||0359187|
Hilo (pronounced /ˈhi.lo/) is a coastal town in the State of Hawaiʻi. It is the largest settlement on the island of Hawaiʻi, and the second largest settlement in the state. The population was 40,759 at the 2000 census.
Hilo is the county seat of Hawaiʻi County, Hawaiʻi, and is situated in the South Hilo District. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, and is near two shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa, considered active, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano upon which some of the best ground-based astronomical observatories are placed.
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, as well as the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula, which takes place annually after Easter. It is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia nuts. It is served by Hilo International Airport, inside the CDP.
Although archaeological evidence is scant, people certainly inhabited the areas along Hilo Bay, Wailuku and Wailoa Rivers before the Western world made contact.
Originally, the name Hilo applied to the whole district of Hilo, now divided into South Hilo District and North Hilo District. When William Ellis visited in 1823, the main settlement in Hilo district was Waiākea on Hilo Bay. Missionaries came to the district in the early to middle 1800s, founding several churches, notably Haili Church, in the area of modern Hilo.
A breakwater across Hilo Bay was begun in the 1900s and completed in 1929. On April 1, 1946, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake near the Aleutian Islands created a fourteen-meter high tsunami that hit Hilo hours later, killing 160 people. In response an early warning system, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, was established to track these killer waves and provide warning. This tsunami also meant the end of the Hawaii Consolidated Railway, and instead the Hawaii Belt Road was built north of Hilo using some of the railbed.
On May 23, 1960, another tsunami, caused by a 9.5 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile the previous day, claimed 61 lives allegedly due to people's failure to heed warning sirens. Low-lying bayfront areas of the city on Waiākea peninsula and along Hilo Bay, previously populated, were rededicated as parks and memorials.
Hilo expanded inland beginning in the 1960s. The downtown found a new role in the 1980s as the city's cultural center with several galleries and museums being opened; the Palace Theatre was reopened in 1998 as an arthouse cinema.
Closure of the sugar plantations (including those in Hāmākua) during the 1990s led to a downturn in the local economy, coinciding with a general statewide slump. Hilo in recent years has seen commercial and population growth as the neighboring district of Puna became the fastest-growing region in the state.
Hilo is located at (19.705520, -155.085918).
Hilo is classified by the United States Census Bureau as a census-designated place (CDP), and has a total area of 58.4 mi² (151.4 km²), 54.3 mi² (140.6 km²) of which is land and 4.2 mi² (10.7 km²) of which (7.10%) is water.
Hilo's location on the eastern side of the island of Hawaiʻi (windward relative to the trade winds) makes it the wettest city in the United States and one of the wettest cities in the world. An average of 128.53 inches (3,265 mm) of rain fell on Hilo International Airport annually between 1949 and 2008. At some other weather stations in Hilo the annual rainfall is above 200 inches (5,100 mm).
The warmest month is September with an average high of 83.7°F and an average low of 68.6°F. The coolest month is February with an average high of 79.2°F and an average low of 63.4°F. The highest recorded temperature was 94°F on May 20, 1996, and the lowest recorded temperature was 53°F on February 21, 1962. The wettest year was 1994 with 182.81 inches and the driest year was 1983 with 68.09 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 50.82 inches in December 1954. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 16.87 inches on February 20, 1979. Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 277 days annually.
As of the census of 2000, there were 40,759 people, 14,577 households, and 10,101 families residing in the census-designated place. The population density was 750.8 people per square mile (289.9/km²). There were 16,026 housing units at an average density of 295.2/sq mi (114.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 17.12% White, 0.45% African American, 0.34% Native American, 38.30% Asian, 13.12% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 29.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.78% of the population.
There were 14,577 households out of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $39,139, and the median income for a family was $48,150. Males had a median income of $36,049 and the median was $27,626 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,220. About 11.1% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
Although sometimes called a "city", Hilo is not an incorporated city, and does not have a municipal government. The entire island, which is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut but larger than Rhode Island and Delaware, is under the jurisdiction of Hawaiʻi County, of which Hilo is the county seat.
Hilo is home to county, state, and federal offices.
Hilo and its outlying areas are traditionally more Democratic-leaning than West Hawaiʻi, which adds to tension between the two major municipal areas. It has also presented more opposition to development than other large communities elsewhere in the state.
Hilo has a large tourism sector, as is prevalent across the whole island. Hilo, as the second largest city in the state of Hawaiʻi, is home to shopping centers, movie theaters, hotels, restaurants, and a developed downtown area. The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation has its home here as well.
Hilo  is a town on the Big Island of Hawaii. The county seat and largest city in Hawaii County, Hilo is the one of the best starting points to explore the eastern half of the island, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hilo International Airport is the main airport serving Hilo and the eastern side of the Big Island. The majority of flights to Hilo originate from Honolulu via Hawaiian Airlines, go!, Island Air, or Pacific Wings. There are also flights from Kahului daily.
Most of the visitors bound for Hilo will arrive via one of the inter island Airlines (go!, Hawaiian, Pacific Wings, Island Air), or as a day stop from one of the frequent cruise ship visits.
As public transportation on Hawai`i Island is minimal, virtually all visitors rent a vehicle from one of the many rental agencies upon arriving at Hilo International Airport. As an alternative, taxis are also available at the airport though renting a car is almost always more practical. The county's free Hele-On Bus system does not serve Hilo International Airport. It's a good idea to make car reservations in advance, as special events or active conditions at the Volcanoes National Park can quickly deplete the supply of available vehicles.
For family - friendly, educational, personal tours of Hilo and Hamakua waterfalls, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and other locations on the island of Hawaii, check out Native Guide Hawaii  Tel: (808) 982-7575
Many of the activities that are available are strictly daytime, and focus on the ocean. Surf culture is big, and boards may be rented from Orchidland Surf, located in the Bayfront district. Stan, the owner, will be happy to fill you in on where to go as well as the current conditions.
Other ocean fun can be found at Richardson's Ocean Park at the end of Kalanianaole (Highway 19). This is a popular spot for family cookouts, and has occasional waves. Snorkeling is a popular activity here. You can also find people relaxing on the beach or in the grass reading and visiting.
Four Mile is a popular swimming spot, also located on Kalanianaole, before you get to Richardson's. Though there is no 'beach', it is rather like a large salt water swimming pool, with a sandy bottom, protected from the ocean by a reef. The brackish water is colder, a mix of the ocean and fresh water springs.
Hilo has two main shopping areas, each about a mile away from most of the hotels on the Banyan Drive loop. Follow Kamehameha Avenue west from Banyan Drive, and you will arrive at Downtown Hilo, which is home to many quaint shops and restaurants. Follow Highway 11 (also Mamalahoa Highway or Kanoelehua Avenue) south from Banyan Drive, and you will arrive at the Prince Kuhio Plaza. There are larger retail stores in and around the Prince Kuhio Plaza area.
Most Downtown Hilo stores are located along the "Bayfront", or Kamehameha Avenue, though the side streets are also packed with excellent finds and shops to explore. The famous Hilo Farmer's Market is also located downtown. You can easily spend a day walking around Downtown Hilo, browsing and shopping.
While Downtown Hilo itself is walkable, parking spaces can be hard to find midday. It is possible to walk from your Banyan Drive area hotel to Downtown, though it is approximately one mile.
The Prince Kuhio Plaza is the main retail center in Hilo. It is surrounded by many larger retailers and shops. It is best to have a car, as Highway 11 from Banyan Drive to the Plaza is not the most pedestrian-friendly boulevard.
Hilo is known for its locally-made ice cream. It's some of the best on earth and can be found several places, including Hilo Homemade Ice Cream downtown at 41 Waianuenue Avenue.
The Hilo Farmer's Market has lots of cheap eats. Located at the corner of Kamehameha Avenue & Mamo Street. If you love tropical fruit, this is the place to go. There's a great tamale stand in the west corner of the market serving very tasty $2 tamales. Market open daily 7AM to 5PM. Expanded on Wednesdays & Saturdays.
Coconut Grill, 136 Banyan Way Excellent entres including Chicken Mauna Kea, Fillet Mingnon, fresh fish dishes and desserts such as Naughty Hula Girl Mud Pie (enough for a family of 4!) and mac nut ice cream.
Blane's Drive-In, 150 Kino'ole St. and 217 Waianuenue Av. Falling into the category of "plate lunch" place, Blane's has a large, inexpensive menu. Perfect for a heavy lunch after surfing for a couple of hours. A plate lunch, for those who don't know, usually consists of 2 scoops of steamed rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and your choice of a variety of extremely fattening delicious goodness. For the less adventurous, they also serve up burgers, fries, chili, etc. They are famous for their loco mocos.
Cafe 100, 969 Kilauea Ave, Tel: 808-935-8683. In honor of the famed 100th Infantry Army Battallion, Mr. Miyashiro who served in the 100th during World War II, established this local restaurant with his wife in 1945. Destroyed twice by the devastating tsunamis, Cafe 100 offers good food at a great price. Known for their famous "Loco Moco" consisting of a bowl of rice with a hamburger patty, gravy and an egg, it is one of the best places to "grind" on the island and a local favorite.
Restaurant Miwa, 1261 Kilauea Av., Tel: 808-961-4454. An upscale Japanese restaurant, ask about their famous Chirashi bowls, you won't be disappointed. Located in the Hilo Shopping Center.
Sunlight Cafe, 1261 Kilauea Ave., Tel: 808-934-8833. Japanese 'izakaya' type menu.
Seaside Restaurant, 1790 Kalanianaole Ave, Tel: 808-935-8825. One of the best places to be served an "ono" and fresh seafood lunch or dinner. Seaside can be found on Kalanianaole street across from 4-mile beach.
Cafe Pesto, 308 Kamehameha Av., Tel: 808-969-6640, . If you have a memory of coming to Hilo as a child, and eating in a reasonably nice restaurant with a view of the bay, chances are it was Cafe Pesto. They have a wide range of food, everything from pizzas to furikake-crusted ono. It's also open late, which is a definite plus in Hilo.
Kuhio Grille, Prince Kuhio Plaza Suite 106A Tel: 959-2336 by Starbucks and Jamba Juice, Home of the one pound Lau Lau!
The Hilo Bay Cafe, 315 Makaala Street, #109, Tel: 808-935-4939. This restaurant was started by the owners of a local health food store (Island Naturals) and features excellent cuisine, featuring local organic produce, etc. A great place for a date. Try a Mojito, you'll thank me. The name is somewhat misleading, since it's actually located in the Prince Kuhio Mall, close to Wall-Mart. Strange location, fabulous place. Reservations may be required on Friday or Saturday nights.
Ken's House of Pancakes, 1730 Kamehameha Av., Tel: 808-935-8711. Don't let the name of this place throw you off. They have an amazingly varied menu, and perhaps more importantly, they are the only 24-hour eatery in Hilo. Look for Ken's on Kanoelehua, before Banyan Drive.
Ocean Sushi Deli, 250 Keawe St. Ocean Sushi features low-cost original and creative sushi along with local-style Japanese food. Some favorite sushi: eel with cream cheese, scallop roll with melted cheese on top--yum!
Pescatore, 235 Keawe St, Tel: 808-969-9090. A good northern Italian restaurant, located in downtown Hilo on Keawe st. The ahi carpaccio is not to be missed.
Garden Snack Club-- weird name, but original Thai food. 82 Kilauea Ave Tel: 808-933-9664.
Naung Mai 86 Kilauea Ave. Tel 808-934-7540 Best Thai food in all of Hilo, behind Garden Exchange.
Sushi Bar Hime14 Furneaux Lane in downtown Hilo near the Farmer's Market. Place sits only 10 people--cozy.
The Pahoa Market: Another weekly flea market, the Pahoa market is open only on Sundays. It's located on Highway 130, on the way to Pahoa town. This market is a little less produce, a little more hippie. They also tend to have more pre-prepared food, so it's a good stop for lunch.
Hilo is a small town, and as such, there is not a lot of public drinking to be done. Despite of a very lackluster nightlife, almost every bar has a cover charge. Still, there are a few places to wet your whistle, and maybe catch a live act.
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