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Hilo, the rainiest city in America, (125 inches a year) is full of rainbows, waterfalls and exotic flowers. The rain saves Hilo from progress, keeps it in a bell jar. Mark Twain called it the "most Sundayest place" and it still is. Old store fronts, circa-1800s, are chic shops and cafes like Siz Zane Designs and Cafe Pesto. Orchids, anthuriums, all locally grown, are sold daily at Hilo Farmer's Market. Hilo hulas at Merrie Monarch Festival; you'll be lucky to get a seat. Once threatened by lava, twice hit by killer tsunamis (in '45 and '60), Hilo looks over its shoulder at Pacific Tsunami Museum, and keeps an eye on its seawall. The ...

Hilo, the rainiest city in America, (125 inches a year) is full of rainbows, waterfalls and exotic flowers. The rain saves Hilo from progress, keeps it in a bell jar. Mark Twain called it the "most Sundayest place" and it still is. Old store fronts, circa-1800s, are chic shops and cafes like Siz Zane Designs and Cafe Pesto. Orchids, anthuriums, all locally grown, are sold daily at Hilo Farmer's Market. Hilo hulas at Merrie Monarch Festival; you'll be lucky to get a seat. Once threatened by lava, twice hit by killer tsunamis (in '45 and '60), Hilo looks over its shoulder at Pacific Tsunami Museum, and keeps an eye on its seawall. The whole town moved inland after the last big wave hit. On the waterfront, take Banyan Drive past trees named for visiting celebrities to Queen Liliuokalani Park. Visit Suisan Fish Auction & Market to see what's for dinner. Nani Mau Gardens has 2000 tropical flowers. Snooze where Jack London did in the 1899 Shipman House Bed & Breakfast or doze at Dolphin Bay Hotel. Visit 1839 Lyman Mission House, oldest in Hawaii. Try crack seed, the local treat, or take a bento out for lunch. Rainbow Falls is around the corner on Aneuenue Street, (Hawaiian for rainbow). Down the coast highway 400-foot Akaka Falls and Onomea Tropical Botanical Gardens are must sees. Up the hill from Hilo, the earth quakes and the volcano spits fire.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer since it doesn't rain so much.