The town of Hilo is located on the windward side of the Island of Hawaii. Hilo is the second largest city within the state. Honolulu (located 200 miles away, on the Island of Oahu) is a major metropolitan area and is the state’s largest city. Hilo has a population of approximately 47,000, but still has the feel of a small town. Hilo is modern in the sense that there are many national chain businesses and there is a large indoor shopping mall.
The Island of Hawaii is home to the state’s only currently active volcano, Kilauea. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (approximately 40 minute drive from Hilo) is a popular tourist destination.
On the leeward side of Hawaii, the resort town of Kailua-Kona, is also a popular tourist destination because of its calm waters, white sand beaches, sport-fishing, diving, snorkeling, and various other water sports. Kailua-Kona is approximately a two hour drive from Hilo.
The Island of Hawaii is a unique place; home to a volcano, black sand beaches, a green sand beach, white sand beaches, waterfalls, a mountain summit that is covered in snow in the winter, and many other amazing sights.
Climate: Hilo has a tropical climate and is a very rainy town; average annual precipitation is 130-200 inches. Check out this National Weather Service link for a summary of the climate and prevailing weather in Hilo.
Vog: Kilauea volcano emits “vog” (volcanic smog). Most vog is pushed by the prevailing easterly trade winds to the leeward side of Hawaii (Kona coast); although, during infrequent southwest winds, Hilo sometimes experiences vog. Most people have no major reaction to vog, but people with respiratory ailments sometimes experience difficulty when the vog gets heavy. Visit the U.S. Geographic Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website for more information.
Tsunamis: A unique but dark part of Hilo’s history; the town has been hit by multiple major tsunamis within the last 70 years. Most locals have stories about their experience with tsunamis. Low-lying tsunami evacuation areas are formally designated and marked. Check out the Pacific Disaster Center’s link and the Pacific Tsunami Museum (located in Hilo) for more information.
Hurricanes: The Hawaiian Islands
are subject to hurricanes passing through the Central Pacific. Hurricanes do
not make landfall in