The most notable location on the East side of the Big Island of Hawai'i is undoubtedly Hilo town. Hilo is the island's largest city (second largest in the state - population wise) and also takes the title for the wettest city in the United States (70+ inches yearly). Hilo is an especially lush city with several gorgeous orchid gardens, interesting parks (the most prominent being Liliu'okalani Garden), museums, and other various attractions. Hilo borders a beautiful bay and is often cooled by sea breezes and tradewind showers.
Don't let the beautiful bay fool you about its past though, it hasn't always been so pleasant. On April Fool's Day 1946, the city of Hilo was hit with something far worse than any practical joke, a tsunami swept inland killing 159 residents and destroying 1,300 homes. On May 19, 1960, devastation struck again when the area was swept over by another tsunami killing 61 more. Today the Tsunami Museum in Hilo is a somber reminder of what this devastating force can do to an island.
Today Hilo is a thriving and relaxing historical center for residents and visitors alike on the east side of the island. The business district has undergone major renovations in the last few years and the town is becoming quite popular with visitors these days. Twice a week the farmers' market also opens its doors and offers a wide variety of produce, tropical flowers, and even visitor souvenirs (some of the best deals on the island in our opinion). Hilo's fish market is also a popular stop for chefs and retailers each early morning.
Hilo town also plays host to the Merrie Monarch festival each April, as well as the 'Olympics' of Hula competition worldwide. Hilo town remains the 'back door' of sorts for access to the central part of the island and its famous Saddle Road, including access to Mauna Kea's summit and Mauna Loa.
Rainbow Falls State Park and Wailuku River State Park, featuring the Boiling Pots area and Pe'epe'e Falls, are some of the larger natural attractions in town. Both parks are located on the same river just a few miles separate from one another.