Hilo: Introduction

The city of Hilo is the main port of the island of Hawaii, the largest island in the chain. It is the business and government center of the island, as well as the shipping and service center of the various industries in the vicinity. With more than 100 inches of rain annually, the city is the rainiest in the United States. The rainfall encourages the city's major industries—raising tropical flowers and fruit. Tourism is growing rapidly, spurred in part by the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is 30 miles away. Hilo curves around a crescent bay where the lower foothills of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea emerge. In recent years the city has attracted retirees and escapees from the faster-paced life on other islands. The city boasts a modern, convenient airport and a deep water harbor, and serves as the transportation hub for the island. The city, whose name means "new moon," is slowly transforming itself from a plantation town whose economy centered on sugar cane to a university town that is attracting a slew of new construction and research dollars.