The largest city on the island of Hawaii, or the ‘Big Island’, Hilo is still relatively small, with a population of around 45,000. It has retained its old world Hawaiian charm, whilst embracing its role as a tourist hub for those eager to see the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hilo was heavily damaged by the 1946 Pacific tsunami and again in the 1960 Chilean tsunami. Learn all about these natural disasters and how they affected the region at the Pacific Tsunami Museum.
The terminal itself is small, and is largely used as an export facility for the island’s natural products, including stunning tropical flowers.
How To Get Around
Getting to and from Hilo terminal is easy and there are a number of ways to explore the city after you disembark.
Rental cars can be booked in advanced and then picked up from the airport, a short distance from the port on foot or via taxi. There is a taxi rank at the pier.
When a cruise ship is docked, a free shuttle service operates every 10 to 15 minutes between the pier and Hilo’s Farmers Market, until 11am. This again is a short journey, and the Farmers Market lies within walking distance to numerous other town attractions.
The island’s bus service is the Hele-On Bus, with 15 routes operating intermittently around the island.
- Currency - the currency in Hilo is the American dollar. 1 dollar is made up of 100 cents, however they are often known by their colloquial title. Coins come in 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), 50 cents (half dollar) and 1 dollar. Notes come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars.
- Time Zone - Hilo uses Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time. It is -10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - Hilo has a tropical rainforest climate, with high rainfall all year round. Temperatures remain quite mild from season to season, with the average temperature ranging from 22 degrees Celsius in January to 25 degrees Celsius in August.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - a 45-minute drive out of Hilo, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park allows an up-close look at some of the most active volcanoes in the world. Comprising of hiking trails and campsites on over 300,000 acres of land, it is a great way to get a glimpse of the otherworldly nature of the volcanic environment.
- Pacific Tsunami Museum - arriving via boat, there is an instant understanding of the vulnerability of Hilo to tsunamis. This small museum has a great collection of photographs and first-hand accounts of the tsunamis that have affected the city over the years, with a large focus on education and forward planning.
- Hilo Farmers Market - open from Monday to Saturday, fruit, vegetables, local delicacies, arts and crafts abound at the Hilo Farmers Market. A free shuttle operates to and from the port in the early morning. It is easily accessible and provides visitors with a great experience of the people and produce of Hilo and greater Hawaii.
- Merrie Monarch Festival - every April Hilo hosts the Merrie Monarch Hula festival, named in honour of King Kalakaua who played a pivotal role in the revival of the Hula after it was banned in 1830. The festival has received worldwide recognition and performers travel to this Hawaiian celebration from all over the globe.