The largest town on Hawaii’s Big Island is Hilo, located on the island’s east coast. With a population of just over 40,000 residents, Hilo is big enough to feel like a city, but not big enough to lose its island charm. The town’s proximity to many of the island’s most popular natural attractions makes it a great base for sightseeing, and the town itself is a hub for local cuisine, culture and retail outlets.
Relax on one of Hilo’s beautiful beaches and try one of the popular water sports that Hawaii has become famous for. Rent a surfboard and catch some waves, or try snorkeling at one of the great spots just outside the town. Richardson’s Ocean Park at the end of Highway 19 is one of the most popular beach destinations.
Hilo is home to a number of cultural institutions, including the Pacific Tsunami Museum and the Lyman House Museum. Visit the Hilo Art Museum to discover traditional and contemporary Hawaiian art at the only dedicated art gallery on the island. Take a trip to the Prince Kuhio Plaza for the best shopping in Hilo. Here you can buy clothes, food and souvenirs at reasonable prices.
Taste the local cuisine or grab a drink with the locals in the heart of the town. A number of restaurants serve authentic Hawaiian dishes, and there are also plenty of American, Mexican and European restaurants. Visit the local farmers market for fresh, cheap produce, perfect for picnics around the island. While Hilo is not known for its nightlife, there are plenty of local bars where you can mingle with the locals.
Hilo is located on the east coast near the Hilo International Airport, making it an obvious point to start your visit to the island. The town has a public bus system; however, most visitors choose to rent their own vehicles as the bus does not serve areas beyond the town.