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About Hilo

Hilo is a small-town environment with an abundance of lush natural beauty and delicious locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Downtown, the many arts and crafts stores, museums, and educational and cultural centers reflect Hilo’s territorial past and varied culture. Along beautiful Banyan Tree Drive, Hilo Bay sparkles with lovely parks and gardens. Turn around on a clear day for a majestic view of the summit of Mauna Kea in the distance.

Hilo has homes at all income levels, from modest to luxurious.

While there are a number of architectural styles in Hilo, most homes are Hawaiian plantation-style or Craftsman-style bungalows. Some homes may have more contemporary design while keeping the spirit of the traditional style.

The low-profile Hawaiian plantation-style house has wood siding and a wide hip roof with exposed rafters under the overhanging eaves. Attached to the exterior is a covered or enclosed lanai (porch). The house is raised off the ground to take advantage of the winds circulating air beneath to cool the interior. Generally, the home has high ceilings and an open floor plan with lots of windows and exterior doors, engaging with the outdoor environment.

The bungalow is a design of the arts and crafts movement of the nineteenth century. Usually single story, the bungalow also has a covered or enclosed lanai, a hip or gable roof, and overhanging eaves with thick round or square supporting beams. Houses distinguished by a double-pitched roof became known as “Hawaiian-style bungalows.”

The bungalow’s non-symmetrical facade may have aesthetic design features such as a protruding lanai with a gable roof, an interior wall adjacent but extending beyond a lanai, and lava rock or stucco on a portion of the facade. The home has lots of windows, and rooms may connect directly, reducing hallways.

Contemporary design and renovation result in more aesthetics and conveniences for both of these very livable architectural styles.

In Hawaii, a leasehold property is one in which the buyer does not own the ground beneath the house. As a leasehold property, an agreed-upon annual or monthly lease amount is determined. At the end of the lease, usually several years, a new lease may be created, the lease ended, or the option to buy the land under the house offered.

A fee simple property is one in which a buyer purchases the house and the land.

Hilo exemplifies ‘ohana!

Though many tourist attractions are in and around Hilo, it is not tourist dependent.

Various industries, offices, malls, stores, restaurants, a university campus, and government offices provide employment. While Malihinis (newcomers) have expanded Hilo’s population to almost 50,000, many folk are generational residents. Along with native Hawaiians, the sugar plantations imported Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean workers. On plantations and ranches, many Portuguese also made the Big Island home. The descendants of all these ethnicities take enormous pride in their community and heritage, celebrating with year-round festivals and pageantry.

Hilo has some notable former residents.

Among them are Gabe Baltazar, a past member of the Stan Kenton Orchestra; Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame; and Pat Saiki and Ed Case, Hawaii politicians, all born and raised in Hilo. But Hilo’s most honored Hawaiian birth is that of Victoria Kinoike Kekaulike, a princess of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was the sister-in-law of David Kalākaua, the “Merrie Monarch,” the namesake of the internationally acclaimed annual hula competition.

Hilo is home to the Merrie Monarch Festival, celebrating hula kahiko (ancient hula) and hula auana (modern hula). This preeminent week-long event attracts state-wide hula hālaus (groups) and competitors from the Mainland and around the globe.

Fabulous rainbows magnify the natural beauty of the area!

The cooling trade winds from the north and northeast blow across Hilo about 250 to 300 days of the year. As they travel up Hilo’s elevated slopes, it rains, creating an abundance of flowers, foliage, and surging waterfalls in the windward area. However, the rainfall is not constant; most of it is at night or early morning. When it does rain during the day, it may be heavy but generally short-lived, followed by the beauty of the emerging rainbows!

Rainfall increases with altitude, but the temperature drops about one degree for every 200 feet above sea level. The average year-round daytime high temperature is 80F (27C).

When the trade winds blow in from the ocean across Hilo and then over Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to the dryer leeward side of the island, there is little volcanic gas emission (vog) in Hilo.

Hilo is below the national average in crime rate.

According to the Citytistics 2022 website, the total Hilo crime rate is 4 per 1,000 people while the national average is 27.5. Property crime constitutes most of Hilo’s statistic. The neighborhood with the lowest reported crime is the Kaumana/Piihonua area. (Neighborhood Scout)

In Hilo, the farthest commutes are generally no more than 15-20 minutes since 45% of residents work in and around town.

The county's free Hele-on Public Transportation has buses running every 60 minutes in Hilo. Hele-on buses also run to other destinations on the Big Island for a sit-back-and-relax scenic ride. Taxi service is available from the Hilo International Airport and around Hilo.

Hilo has schools to meet every need, from pre-school to university.

There are 32 public schools, including 2 high schools; 3 charter schools with high schools; and 20 private schools with 2 high schools. Hawaii Community College and the University of Hawaii are also located in Hilo.

Hilo provides exceptional medical care.

The Hilo Medical Center is a CMS 5-star rated medical facility, placing it among the top 20% of hospitals in the nation for delivering high-quality health care. Patients rate it higher than the national average. HMC has ongoing renovations and acquisitions of the latest medical technology.

My favorite dining, casual but Dee-lish!

Oh, my, there are so many tasty places to eat in Hilo. Fine dining is amply represented, but Hilo's laid-back atmosphere invites a wander into one of the many places that offer casual dining and take-out.

My favorite place has to be the Suisan Fish Market. I love fish! Established over a hundred years ago, this fish market buys its fresh fish every day from the local Hilo fishermen. Delectable poke bowls with a wide variety of seafood choices are easily the favorite. It's just mouthwatering thinking about it. And for a bonus, I can eat outside and view the lovely Liliuokalani Gardens and Hilo Bay!

The popular Hilo Farmer's Market is the place to get fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, but it also has vendors serving a potpourri of prepared foods, from fresh salads to barbecue, poke, and other delicious ethnic plates.


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