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Big Island Travel Guide

  • Photo: Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock


In comparison to Kailua-Kona, Hilo is often described as "the old Hawaii." With significantly fewer visitors than residents, more historic buildings, and a much stronger identity as a long-established community, this quaint, traditional town does seem more authentic. It stretches from the banks of the Wailuku River to Hilo Bay, where a few hotels line stately Banyan Drive. The characteristic

old buildings that make up Hilo's downtown have been spruced up as part of a revitalization effort.

Nearby, the 30-acre Liliuokalani Gardens, a formal Japanese garden with arched bridges and waterways, was created in the early 1900s to honor the area's Japanese sugar-plantation laborers. It also became a safety zone after a devastating tsunami swept away businesses and homes on May 22, 1960, killing 60 people.

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