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Hilo, Hawaii
—  CDP  —
Aerial view of Hilo bay and city.
Location in Hawaii County and the state of Hawaii
Coordinates: 19°42′20″N 155°5′9″W / 19.70556°N 155.08583°W / 19.70556; -155.08583
Country United States
State Hawaii
County 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)
Population (2000)
 - Total 40,759
 - Density 750.8/sq mi (289.9/km2)
Time zone Hawaii-Aleutian (UTC-10)
ZIP codes 96720-96721
Area code(s) 808
FIPS code 15-14650
GNIS feature ID 0359187
The districts of Hawaiʻi. From northernmost, clockwise; North and South Kohala, Hāmākua, North and South Hilo (highlighted), Puna, Kaʻū, North and South Kona.

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,[1] 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.[2]



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.[3] Missionaries came to the district in the early to middle 1800s, founding several churches, notably Haili Church, in the area of modern Hilo.

Hilo expanded as sugar plantations in the surrounding area made sure that they didn't move and drew in many workers from Asia, and the city became a trading center.

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.[4]

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.

Geography and climate

Hilo from the Bay, 1852
Aftermath of the 1960 Chilean tsunami in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, where the tsunami left 61 people dead and 282 seriously injured
Hilo Bay at night

Hilo is located at 19°42′20″N 155°5′9″W / 19.70556°N 155.08583°W / 19.70556; -155.08583 (19.705520, -155.085918).[5]

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.[6] At some other weather stations in Hilo the annual rainfall is above 200 inches (5,100 mm).[7]

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.[6]

Hilo's location on the shore of the funnel-shaped Hilo Bay also makes it vulnerable to tsunamis.[8]


As of the census[9] 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.


Hilo is home to a number of educational institutions, including two post-secondary institutions, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College.

Government and politics

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.


Farmer's market in downtown Hilo

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.


Notable natives and residents

Points of interest

Naha Stone at the public library


Hilo is served by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, member of the Stephens Media Group.[11]

Sister city

La Serena, Chile


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "Hilo CDP, Hawaii." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  3. ^ Ellis, W. A Narrative of an 1823 Tour through Hawai'i, republished 2004, Mutual Publishing, Honolulu ISBN 1-56647-605-4, chapters 11 and 12
  4. ^ Jeane Branch Johnston (May 2003). "Personal Accounts from Survivors of the Hilo Tsunamis of 1946 and 1960: Toward a Diaster Communications Model". Master's Thesis. University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-07-23.  
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  6. ^ a b HILO WSO AP 87, HAWAII - Climate Summary
  7. ^ Hilo, Hawaiʻi information on NOAA web site
  8. ^ "Where is Hilo Hawai'i?". Frequently Asked Questions. The Pacific Tsunami Museum web site. Retrieved 2009-07-23.  
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  10. ^ "Education - Discovery Center". Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument web site. NOAA. Retrieved 2009-08-25.  
  11. ^ "Hawaii Tribune-Herald". official web site. Stephens Media Group. Retrieved 2009-08-25.  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Lava flow at Kilauea
Lava flow at Kilauea

Hilo [1] 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.

Get in

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.

Get around

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 [2] Tel: (808) 982-7575

  • Pacific Tsunami Museum (130 Kamehameha Ave.; tel. (808) 935-0926; FAX (808) 935-0842; email: [3] The Pacific Tsunami Museum serves as a living memorial, and a reminder for a generation yet to experience such fright. A tsunami, Japanese for “harbor waves” are a fact of life in Hawaii, especially Hilo. On April 1, 1946, and May 23, 1960, Hilo suffered devastating tsunamis that reshaped its social and economic structure.
  • Hilo Art Museum (1266 Kamehameha Ave.; tel. (808) 961-1426; email: [4] The Hilo Art Museum is the Big Island's only general art museum, and has a growing collection of art from around the world. It is in the historic Hilo Iron Works building with a breathtaking view of Hilo Bay.
  • The Lyman House Museum (276 Haili St.; tel. (808) 935-5021) - Located in downtown Hilo, this museum features a restored missionary house (hourly guided tours). They also have a small collection of local artwork, historical exhibits, and the 9th best mineral collection in the United States.
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
  • Rainbow Falls: If you don't have time to make it up to Akaka Falls, or you don't like hiking, Rainbow Falls is worth a visit. Try to visit early in the the day. You have a better chance to see the rainbow created by the mist. Drive up Waianuenue Ave. from downtown Hilo, following the signs. If you pass the hospital, you have gone too far. Very wheelchair accessible, but the Boiling Pots will require some hiking.
  • King Kamehameha Statue - Erected in 1997 at Wailoa State Park, the statue of King Kamehameha is perhaps the most impressive of the four found throughout the state. A gift from the island of Kauai who failed to erect the statue due to the historical significance of being the only island never to be conquered by Kamehameha the Great. Standing at 14 feet tall, the statue now overlooks Hilo where the first King of Hawaii established his seat of government.
  • Naha Stone (300 Waianuenue Ave., in front of the Hilo Public Library) - It was prophesized that the man who moved the Naha stone, which weighs nearly 5000 pounds, would unite all of the Hawaiian islands and be the greatest king of all Hawaii. Kamehameha, at the age of fourteen, not only moved the stone, but lifted it end over end, and he eventually fulfilled the prophesy. The Pinao stone, which sits next to the Naha stone, once guarded an ancient temple.
  • Lili'uokalani Gardens - Located on Banyan Drive, this authentic Japanese garden was built in the early 1900s as a memorial to the immigrant Japanese who developed the old Waiakea Sugar Plantation and is named in honor of Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani.


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.

  • Helicopter touring is popular, with flights over macadamia nut plantations to the lava flows at Kilauea.
  • Kaumana caves are fun to explore and it's free. You should bring your own flashlight.
  • Pacific Tsunami Museum is a great place to learn about the tidal waves that destroyed Hilo several times.
  • Hilo Art Museum is the island's only general art museum. It is in the historic Hilo Iron Works building with the best view of Hilo Bay.


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.

Downtown Hilo

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.

  • Hilo Surfboard Company, 84 Ponahawai St., (808) 934-0925, [5]. The Big Island's surf shop for surfers. This little shop has Hawaii Islands largest selection of new, used, and custom surfboards. There is also a huge selection of bodyboards. They have rentals and on site board repair. Also find Hilo Surfboard Company t-shirts and many local brands. Owner Scott Murray will be stoked to see you and talk story!  edit
  • Sig Zane Designs, 122 Kamehameha Ave. (right next to the Pacific Tsunami Museum), (808) 935-7077, [6]. 9:30AM - 5:00PM (M-F), 9:00AM - 4:00PM (Sat). Sig Zane Designs is one of the premier clothiers in Hawaii. They are known for their original textile prints, which depict indigenous and culturally-significant Hawaiian plants and flowers. The shop offers aloha shirts, ladies' blouses and dresses, handbags, and furniture. Sig Zane's aloha shirts and clothing items are priced higher than brands available at Hilo Hattie, though the quality and look is worth the extra cost. Well worth the visit for the visual experience, and to talk story with the store staff! Aloha shirts from $79, Ladies' blouses from $59.  edit
  • Basically Books, 160 Kamehameha Ave., (808) 961-0144, [7]. This family-owned independent bookstore in the heart of Downtown Hilo is the perfect place to purchase books on Hawaiian culutre, history and language. Excellent selection of Big Island maps.  edit
  • Hilo Farmer's Market, (corner of Mamo St. and Kamehameha Ave.), (808) 933-1000, [8]. Wed and Sat, from dawn until it's gone. Every Wednesday and Saturday, you can purchase the freshest, cheapest produce in Hilo at the Hilo Farmer's Market. You can also find fresh fish, fresh-cut flowers (anthuriums, protea, and other local varieties), prepared snacks, and the typical flea market junk. Be prepared to haggle. Get there early, like the locals do, before everything sells out.  edit
  • Chase Gallery. Located in Hilo's scenic Bayfront district, along highway 19, this gallery features an excellent collection of local artwork.  edit
  • Hilo Guitars, 114 Ponahawai St., (808) 935-4282. Speicializing in acoustic instruments, they also have the best colleciton of ukuleles in Hilo.  edit
  • Kahuina Gallery, (on the corner of Mamo St. and Kilauea Ave., just up the street from the Farmer's Market), (808) 935-4420. A cooperative of island artists and musicians. A variety of cards, posters, CDs, original works of art, and small publications are available from local artists and musicians. Each Friday night is free open mic and music.  edit
  • Kathmandu Imports. A fascinating new addition to the Hilo Bayfront district, Kathmandu Imports sells a collection of Tibetan and Nepali items. Located on Waianuenue Ave.  edit
  • KTA Superstore, 321 Keawe St., (808) 935-3751, [9]. 7:00AM - 9:00PM (M-Sa), 7:00AM - 6:00PM (Su). This Big Island grocery chain is known as Taniguchi store to the locals. They offer a great selection of Japanese food products, but they also stock local products alongside mainstream American grocery items. Their own Mountain Apple Brand uses ingredients from local farmers. This Downtown Hilo location is one of six on the Big Island. There is also a location in the Puainako Shopping Center, in South Hilo.  edit

Prince Kuhio Plaza Area

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.

  • Prince Kuhio Plaza, 111 E. Puainako St., (808) 959-3555, [10]. 9:30AM - 8:00PM (M-Th), 9:30AM - 9:00PM (F-Sa), 10:00AM - 6:00PM (Su). Hilo's main shopping center features a number of standard retail stores including American Eagle Outfitters, Hot Topic, GameStop, and Foot Locker. Macy's and Sears are the department store anchors. There are a few local shops such as Big Island Surf Company and Royal Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry. Also has a movie theater and food court.  edit
  • KTA Superstore, 50 E. Puainako St., (808) 959-9111, [11]. 5:30AM - midnight (daily). This Big Island grocery chain is known as Taniguchi store to the locals. They offer a great selection of Japanese food products, but they also stock local products alongside mainstream American grocery items. Their own Mountain Apple Brand uses ingredients from local farmers. This Puainako location is one of six on the Big Island.  edit
  • Hilo Hattie, 111 E. Puainako St., Building G, (808) 961-3077, [12]. 9:00AM - 6:30PM (daily). Hilo Hattie offers many of the stereotypical tourist attire -- matching his and hers Hawaiian print shirts. This is one of the most popular spots for tourists to purchase clothing, jewelry, handbags, and other Hawaii knick knacks. You will be greeted with a shell lei and a cup of guava juice upon entering. Aloha shirts from $40, Ladies' dresses from $30.  edit
  • Discount Fabric Warehouse, 933 Kanoelehua Ave., [13]. 9:00AM - 6:00PM (M-Sa), 10:00AM - 4:00PM (Su). This unassuming warehouse offers the largest selection of Hawaiian-print fabrics on the Big Island. This is a must-stop for anyone who loves to sew or craft! Very reasonable prices on all fabrics, especially the cotton Hawaiian prints.  edit
  • Big Island Candies, 585 Hinano St., 1-800-935-5510, [14]. 8:30AM - 5:00PM (daily). Big Island Candies is renowned for their chocolate hand-dipped cookies and confections. They even dip dried squid in chocolate! This is one of the most popular gifts for visitors to take home from Hawaii. Products are packaged perfectly for gift-giving.  edit
  • Kawate Seed Shop, 1990 Kinoole Ave., (808) 959-8313. Some say Kawate makes the best shave ice in Hilo. With about a dozen flavors, visitors can add ice cream, azuki (red bean paste), or condensed milk to their shave ice. Kawate is also a great place to purchase local-style snacks such as Chinese li hing mui and other "crackseeds". shave ice from $2.  edit
  • Long's Drugs, 111 East Puainako St. (at the Prince Kuhio Plaza), (808) 959-5881, [15]. 7:00AM - 10:00PM (M-F), 7:00AM - 9:00PM (Sa-Su). Good selection of Hawaii knick knacks, macadamia nuts, and local-style snacks. Lower prices than Hilo Hattie.  edit
  • Wal-Mart, 325 Makaala St., (808) 961-9115, [16]. Excellent selection of Hawaii knick knacks. Possibly the lowest prices you can find.  edit


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, [17]. 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.

  • Suisan, 85 Lihiwai Street, +1 808 935 9349, [18]. many varieties of poke sold by weight - take your package to the park across the street and enjoy a picnic!  edit
  • Hilo Coffee Mill, 17-995 Volcano Highway, Mt. View (Btwn the 12 and 13 Mile Markers in Mountain View), 808-968-1333, [19]. Mon-Sat 7AM-4PM. Great light breakfast and locally made lunch specials daily. Some of the best Portuguese Bean Soup around, shoyu chicken, kalua pork, chicken and veggie wraps made to order. Lots more. Friendly staff, great smell of coffee, tours and unique coffee from around the state. Full espresso bar. Coffee roasted on site.  edit

Outside of Hilo

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.

  • Detour A relatively new bar catering mostly to an Asian/Hawaiian clientèle. There is a dance floor with music supplied by a house PA system, there is no DJ. There is a bar/lounge area with pool tables, darts, TV's and sofas and a separate dance floor area. Fights tend to be common here also. On weekends there is typically a $7 cover charge.
  • Shooters, Banyan Drive. They call this place a club, but the reality is this is a dive bar. That being said, service personnel are friendly and attractive, and drinks are relatively inexpensive. Music is mediocre, but not bad for a small town. It is within walking distance of all major hotels, so if you want to drink a lot in Hilo this is a good place to go. The fact they charge a $5 cover is a joke.
  • Cronies, downtown Hilo, corner of Waianuenue and Kamehameha. General sports bar, closes at 9PM, not a spot for nightlife.
  • Emerald Orchid, Keawe St., Downtown Hilo. A neat British pub-style bar with a nice selection of beers and liquor served by friendly bartenders. Features a small dance floor with the occasional live band or DJ. Attendance is hit or miss, with some days being packed and the next week being nearly empty. Very close to Hilo Hostel.
  • Legends Bar & Grill (formerly Charley's) Recently bought and renovated, this bar in Keaau is now one of the few venues that frequently has live music. It's located in the Keaau shopping center, about 20 minutes from downtown Hilo.
  • Bear's Coffee, in Downtown. Good waffles, lame hours.
  • Kope Kope, Hilo Shopping Center on Kilauea. Great coffee, wonderful atmosphere, rockin' baristas (new owner - yeah!).
  • Starbucks They just appeared one day. One is on Kilauea, the other is in the Prince Kuhio shopping center.
  • Just Cruisin Coffee corner of Kilauea and Pauahi Streets (by the new State building). Great sandwiches and pastries and 100% pure kona coffee.
  • Seattle's Best Coffee Located in Borders in Prince Kuhio/Wal-Mart area.
  • Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, 71 Banyan Dr., Tel: 808-935-9361, Fax: 808-961-9642, [20]. Older hotel of 286 rooms with great views. It is clean, the staff are friendly, but it is really showing its age. Beds for instance, feature bedspreads which are clearly 20+ years old. Plus, air conditioning in each room is a small corner unit that works, but is hardly central air. Internet access in rooms, but the TV is 15 inches.
  • Dolphin Bay Hotel, 333 Iliahi St., Tel: 808-935-1466, Fax: 808-935-1523, [21]. Modest, clean accommodations. 13 Rooms.
  • Hilo Bay Hotel, 87 Banyan Dr., Tel: 808-935-0861; Fax: 808-935-7903, [22]. Inexpensive with a touch of Hawaiian hospitality and fun. 145 rooms.
  • Hilo Bay Hale, 301 Ponahawai St., tel: 808-640-1113, Email: ( A restored 1912 plantation home that features 4 guest suites with private baths and lanai (porches) overlooking koi ponds, streams and Hilo Bay.
  • At the Beach with Friends Bed and Breakfast, 369 Nene St., tel: 808-934-8040, Email:, [23]. Custom built as a B&B on a lagoon at Hilo's favorite swimming beaches. One of a kind tropical setting, privacy, comfortable rooms, friendly, good food, and a great location. Beautiful house and garden with great tropical fish and plant collections. Computer station and WiFi. Cable TVs, and private phone lines in all the rooms. Lounge with books and music.
  • Waterfalls Inn Bed and Breakfast, 240 Kaiulani St., Tel: 808-969-3407, [24]. Four suites in a classic old house. Country relaxation.
  • Hilo Vacation Rentals, 2256 Kalanianaole Ave., Tel: 800-813-3306, ( Oceanfront homes front best swimming and snorkeling beaches in Hilo bay. Choose from 1-4 bedroom beach houses. Guests enjoy complete oceanfront privacy in fully-equipped vacation rental homes. Available for nightly, weekly, and extended stays. All properties are privately owned and managed by the same family.
  • Haole = Caucasian: Though many think that "haole" just means white person, it refers more to an attitude than anything else. Treat the locals with respect, and the same respect will be returned to you. There are a few native Hawaiians who have a generally negative attitude to Haoles, and may express this attitude through looks or comments. You are best to simply ignore comments to avoid provocation.
  • Do not mix aloha patterns: It's just tacky.
  • No local people wear full aloha outfits: Look around. Do you see anyone from here wearing matching aloha-print shirts and shorts?
  • Do not wear matching aloha-wear outfits: See above, and it looks silly.
  • Be respectful: Both in Hilo and anywhere you go!
  • Foot outfits: It's called slippers here, not flip-flops. Say it once and immediately be branded as a tourist.
  • Style: Very casual to resort casual at best. Dress shoes don't fare well in mud and/or puddles. (Hence the slippahz. Please refer to above installment regarding "Foot Outfits.")
  • Akaka Falls State Park - Located 11 miles north of Hilo at the end of Highway 220, this awe-inspiring waterfall is the highest falls on the island. The loop trail is an easy walk through the tropical rainforest, and provides several viewing opportunities. Kahuna Falls can also be viewed from the trail, though it is much less impressive than Akaka Falls.
  • Nani Mau Gardens (421 Makalika St.; tel. (808) 959-3500) [25] Located 3 miles from Hilo, Nani Mau, which translates as "forever beautiful", features over 50 acres of artistically-landscaped displays of native and exotic tropical flowers and plants, a spectacular orchid garden, rare palms and tropical fruit orchards. First opened to the public in 1972, this tropical garden claims to have every flowering plant in Hawaii.
  • Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo (off Hwy. 11; tel. (808) 959-9233; hours 9:00AM - 4:00PM daily; free admission) [26] This is the only zoo in the U.S. situated in a tropical rainforest--a playground for exotic birds and animals, including a white Bengal tiger and pygmy hippos. Three squirrel monkeys from the old Pearl City Tavern (now closed and razed, replaced by a auto dealership) are there as well. Tiger feeding daily at 3:30PM.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - The entrance to the park is in the town of Volcano, roughly 40 minutes drive from downtown Hilo. Many people can spend several days exploring all that the park has to offer. There are a number of excellent hikes, showcasing most of the flavors of Hawaiian geological activity. Of course, the thing that most people come to see is the active flow zone of Kilauea. Entrance fees are consistent with other U.S. National Parks.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also hilo



Proper noun




  1. largest town on the island of Hawaii, located at the eastern corner of the island.

See also

  • Puna District


  • Anagrams of hilo
  • Holi



Proto-Polynesian *Filo

Proper noun


  1. (Hawaiian mythology) A Polynesian navigator.
  2. Hilo ( town ), possibly named for the ancient navigator.
  3. First night of new moon in the old Hawaiian calendar.
  4. A male given name, rare today.


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