Hilo, Hawaii County, Hawaii

Century 21 | RE/MAX

Hilo is one of Hawaii’s largest settlements. Hilo Bay serves as a seaport, tourist center and commercial zone for the entire island. Hilo also holds the University of Hilo. Built in 1947, the University of Hilo is achieves great education with track record to back it up. Some other attractions located on Hilo include Liliuokalani Gardens Park, Lyman House Memorial Museum, and Nani Mau Gardens. Hilo has two active volcanoes nearby, both located at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While in Hilo be sure to check out Rainbow Falls as it is quite possibly the most beautiful waterfall in all of Hawaii.

Hilo was originally settled by missionaries in the early 1820’s where it later became governed by Hawaii County. Hilo is also known as the “census designation place” according to the United States Beaeau of the Census. With a population of 40,759 and growing, you will find it no problem at all to fall in love with this wonderful community of people.

Hawaii, with its pristine beaches and idyllic sceneries, is on most people's list of dream destinations. Who wouldn't be enthralled with the idea of spending late afternoons sashaying along the clear blue waters under purplish pink glow of twilight? Imagine the sun-kissed warmth of beach sand and the gentle roaring of the waves on a tranquil evening. These are perfect little moments one can experience in any of the islands in Hawaii, including the picturesque city of Hilo, which overflows with nature's goodness.

Once a booming commercial city, Hilo still carries in its bosom tinges of brashness and classic charm of the olden times. Twice harshly hit by a tsunami, the city managed to be taut and poised like a woman who graciously rose above life's trials and emerged as beautiful as ever. But then, the city still has that distinct nostalgic feel, which serves as little reminder of the past.

Next to Honolulu in terms of biggest population and size, Hilo occupies a land area of 58.4 square miles and acts as home to approximately 40,200 residents. Hilo, Hawaii county's administrative center, is lying on the southern part of Hilo district but the town is positioned on the east side of Hawaii island. This geographical set-up is accountable for frequent rain falls in Hilo, making this place the 'rainiest' city in all of the states in America. Tsunamis also tend to attack Hilo because the town is nestled on dry areas of exquisite Hilo Bay, which has a shape susceptible to tidal waves.

Aside from rainfall and tsunami, another notable thing about Hilo is its proximity to a mountain and a famous active volcano. These two features are not only known in Hawaii but also the world. Mauna Loa or "long mountain," included in five volcanoes in Hawaii, is the biggest volcano on Earth. On the other hand, observatories are situated in Mauna Kea mountain, the highest reach in Hawaii.

Hilo's History

Hilo, just like Hawaii in general, is a melting pot of various cultures and races. This coastal city is a rich tapestry housing Asians, African Americans, and Latins, among others. A look back at Hilo's history explains the boom of expatriates in this city.

Long before the reign of noble Hawaiian leader Kamehameha The Great in 1700s, Hilo Bay is occupied by natives from nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean. King Kamehameha is a powerful authority figure at that time, not only in Hilo, but also in other areas in Hawaii. As part of his plan to subdue The Big Island, the king consolidated his power by welcoming travelers from different places. This also had another effect in Hawaii's trade and culture as well. The travelers conducted barter trade with the natives and introduced sundry items from the other corners of the world. Eventually, some of these explorers decided to settle down in Hawaii.

When missionaries penetrated The Big Island, culture and tradition dramatically changed in other areas, especially Hilo. Since this coastal city is huge and blessed with natural resources, missionaries opted to make Hilo the bastion of education and religion, both Christianity and Puritanism, in Hawaii. Hilo's unexpected new role made the city exposed to more traders and more changes. Inevitably, the coastal city served as the commercial spot in Hawaii. Things even got better for Hilo at the turn of the century when sugar plantations, docks, and construction of infrastructures were ongoing. Everything looked bright and promising for this coastal city until a natural calamity crumbled Hilo residents' dream into a nightmare. Nothing was spared during the two tsunami attacks, in 1941 and 1960, and the city literally had to start again from scratch.

Due to the traumatic incidences, the residents came up with a structure that was deemed to somehow protect them from tsunami destructions in the future. Despite Hilo's roller coaster past, residents were determined to rise again after the crisis. They didn't let themselves be overwhelmed with failure; instead, they tried to make things better. Today, Hilo is a busy tourist destination brimming with interesting bits and pieces of the town's colorful past.

Hilo's Attractions

Apart from natural wonders like Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hilo serves as a sanctuary to a bunch of historical sites and spots. Tourists can first drop by King Kalakaua's Park, a structure established a century ago in honor of King David Kalakaua, which features grand sundial and intricately sculpted statue of the last king in Hawaii. For informative bites of culture, visit Lyman Museum and Mission House on the corner of Haili and Kapiolani streets. One is bound to know more about The Big Island's background, like the indigenous groups who came in the country long before any other groups did; some maybe should take a look at their extensive collection of seashells and minerals. Those who are inclined with the stars and skies should check out the museum's Astronomy Center. There's so much to do, see, and absorb in this museum that tourists might lose track of time while inside this cultural hub.

Movie enthusiasts would be interested to check out Hilo's Palace Theater, Hawaii's pioneer venue for plays, along Haili street. This 1925 structure was refurbished in the earlier half of the 1990s to preserve its Art Deco glamor as well as serve as venue for cultural presentations. Also with an Art Deco feel is the S.H. Kress Company Building along Kamehameha Avenue. With terra cotta and floral patters, this building was restored in the mid 1990s to occupy movie houses and other quaint shops. Another worthwhile hot spot to visit is Bayfront. This harbor is built to prevent the repeat of the tsunami tragedies in the past few decades. Residents can seek refuge in Bayfront the moment officials detect the onset of tsunami.

Hilo's Economy

Aside from its booming tourism industry, Hilo lives on as a financially stable coastal city because of its rich agriculture. Hilo thrives on the abundance of rich fauna, specifically tropical flowers, which are esteemed worldwide for extraordinary charm and diversity. In fact, this island is recognized as a world leader when it comes to flower export.

Fertile acres of Hilo, approximately one million, are solely devoted to cultivating variety of orchids in the most enticing colors and other flower species. Hilo supplies flower dealers all over the world with the fresh bounty of colorful and tantalizing blooms. Even after the glorious years of sugar plantation, Hilo residents still manage to keep their economy in tiptop shape by becoming ingenious.

Along with flower export, other million-dollar industries in Hilo are livestock and fishery. Hilo houses the Cattle Ranch, which supplies more than fifty percent of hogs and cows in all of Hawaii. These products are also exported in other countries like Canada and other states in America. Livestock brings in approximately $25 million every year. Hilo is also naturally blessed with abundant seas, which are sanctuaries of several water species ranging from succulent oyster to good-quality shrimps and fishes. Export-quality aqua goodies are not only limited to edible ones because there are also species, like algae, which are used for pharmaceutical purposes. These marine goods is likewise a booming industry, which assures an $11-million income for the Hilo government. Another addition to the long list of Hilo's economic success is the honey bee industry.

Hilo Statistics:

Population: 40,759
Households: 14,577
Median resident age: 38.6 years
Median household income: $39,139
Median house value: $153,800
Land area: 54.3 square miles
Elevation: 38 feet
Latitude: 19°42'N
Longitude: 155°5'W
Zip code: 96720
County: Hawaii

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